Ithaca, NY: At Glenwood Pines, Skip the Namesake, Go For the Tully
1213 Taughannock Blvd, Ithaca NY 14850(map); 607-273-3709; glenwoodpines.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: This old school family restaurant pushes their Pinesburger, but you should go for the Tullyburger instead.
Want Fries With That? Nope. What you want is the fried corn nuggets.
Price: Pinesburger $5.75; Tullyburger $4.50; corn nuggets, $3.95
I wasn't expecting for much to have changed at Glenwood Pines since Adam visited it back in 2008. From the looks of the place, not much has changed in a long, long while. You'll still find a '90s era pinball machine and a vintage bowling game—you know, the kind where you throw the puck down a salt-covered lane towards pins stuck on ropes?
The friendly waiters'll try their best to push the Pinesburger ($5.75) on you—a six-ounce patty of lean ground meat that comes served with lettuce, onion, tomato, Thousand Island, and cheese on a split piece of French bread from Ithaca Bakery. It's not the best burger on the menu. The lean beef has plenty of flavor from the grill, but it's not quite as juicy as you'd like. Couple that with the overly-large piece of absorbent French bread, and the whole thing comes of tasting dry.
You're far better off going for the Tullyburger ($4.50), which swaps out the larger patty for a more manageable four-ouncer. You lose some of the dry interior in lieu of more charred crust, which in this case, is a good thing. More importantly, instead of the French bread, you get a soft, squishy, sesame-seed bun—a much better partner in crime for the patty.
It's still not the greatest burger in the world—where's the juice?—but it's got flavor where it counts, and the price is right.
I'm not sure where the name "Tullyburger" comes from, and neither was the waitress or manager. Anyone know its history?
Definitely get a side of the corn nuggets ($3.95) which are essentially creamed corn formed into balls, breaded, and deep fried. I had them a few places around town (they seem to be an Ithaca thing), and the ones at Glenwood were my favorite.
Of course, I'll find out after posting this that they all use the same brand of frozen corn nugs. Oh well, I like 'em anyway.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.