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Michael Landrum

Ray's Hell-Burger - Great Hamburgers at City Vista - Closed

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So I finally went to Ray’s Hell Burger. In fact, I’ve been twice in the last week. And I am a believer!!! It was every bit as good as people say it is. Although I do not like the Diablo sauce….it was way too spicy and it overpowered the taste of the burger. The second one I got was Diablo, the first one was just grilled and it was much, much better. The first burger I got was cooked all the way through (I guess it was technically medium-well). The second one I got was rare…..and terrible. So now that I have had both ends of the temperature spectrum, what I do want to comment on is this whole temperature debate. I know we have had this conversation on this forum a million times…so forgive me for starting it up again. But I just don’t get it…… I do not understand for the life of me why a rare burger is supposed to be of superior quality than a medium-well burger.

The rare burger was juicer yes, but because it wasn’t cooked very long, the juice was less flavorful. So more tasteless juice is supposed to be better than a smaller amount of flavorful juice. And not only did the rare burger have less taste, the texture was kinda gross. It was so mushy. Growing up, I never had mushy burgers, so that texture is neither nostalgic or tasty. And again, because it hadn’t been cooked very long, it didn’t have as much of that nice, charbroiled flavor. Now, maybe I can agree that the rarer the meat, the more nutritious it is because you haven’t cooked out all of the nutrients. But other than that, I just don’t think I can get with a rare hamburger. Ever. And I don’t think I’ll ever understand people who look down their nose at people who like their burgers cooked all the way through. You say "tomato"..........

Maybe at the end of the day, red meat is like wine…..the best kind is the kind that you like. It’s all just a matter of personal preference.

On another note…… I think that RHB has THE BEST music selection I have ever heard at any restaurant!!! Sooooo fun!!! I really wanted to get up and dance!

Oh, and even the tomatoes and the watermelon are stupendous!!!!! Do NOT skip them. This place really does have it all!!

Peace & Blessings,

LaShanta

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You are assuming I have a mind.

Maintenance, repairs, equipment installation at 1725 Wilson Monday and Tuesday.

It is impossible to describe how beat up we get everyday just trying to keep up with the crowds. That "not too crowded" Monday (the Monday after a holiday weekend)? Ohh, 600 people.

On any given day, at different times throughout the day, we may be serving at 1713, 1725 or both, depending on the day, time, and cleaning and prep schedules.

As far as the Catch goes, it is impossible to make any plans--for anything--at all right now due to the ongoing insanity. Impending reviews don't help matters at all (in fact, have once again forced me to cancel whatever little time off I was planning to take this summer)--especially since based on his questions, I am sure that Tom Sietsema is going to bring up that whole fallacious "time limit" thing that his little network of spies and the chronically aggrieved love to bitch to him about, thereby encouraging people to come poke the bears. Of course, they are always so shocked when they find out that this bear has learned how to pick the lock on his cage. It's always so funny how bullies turn into the biggest cry babies, and liars, when denied their right to threaten and bully. You'd think that Tom would know that by now before he give credence to their whinging.

It's enough to make me want to put on some moose antlers and head up to Wasilla. Or to set up a web site and change from Invision 2.0 to Invision 3.0. Arrrgh.

I'd really hate to have to stop taking reservations again.

By the way, glad the Hell-Burgers didn't suck.

Seeing as how the Royal Palace has been shut down for a month by the booze police, I assume you'll have more time to devote to your many chores, if less efficiency-enhancing R&R potential.

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The question for reviews in general is whether the critic can shoot on the count of three, but the restaurateur can only take aim after ten paces, unless he cheats.

I've clearly not given the brain cells sufficient lubrication this evening to usefully contribute to this conversation. Allow me, then, to simply say that my maiden voyage to RHB was today, and it done good. Food, yes, but more--asked a gent at an outdoor 3-seater if I could share his table, as the place was predictably packed, and he looked surprised (a stranger? asking to sit with me? well, yes, there aren't any other seats here for us as despise A/C), then said yes, of course. We had a lovely chat, and then we started talking with the 3-seater beside us, and it's a good, good place.

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I've had bad luck recently with overcooked burgers. Wednesday evening I ordered four Ray's Hell-Burgers (at the new location), recommended, with Vermont cheddar and bacon, and all four came out medium-well. People need to fully understand just how much demand has increased here since President Obama's visit - at around 8:30, there was still a line, and the burgers took an unacceptably long time to arrive. Over $36 - cash only. For me? Not worth it right now, and I'll wait to see how things change once the new operation gets up-and-running (I assume with two locations going at once, the waits will decrease significantly).

Due to the quality of ingredients, I can't say that I've ever had a bad burger at Ray's, but I do think that the best ones (flavor and correct level of doneness) I've had here were during times when there was no wait. Last visit was at 4:00 on a Monday, perfectly rare and juicy!

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Great sighting tonight at RHB-one of the waiters from Pho 75 boxing up a whole slew of burgers.

They probably ran out of cheap frozen pho-meat to dump in their soup.

I'm kidding! I'm kidding!

I have us off tendon, see, to beef at tea brisk, it ripe.

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Thanks all, for making us look like the best hosts EVER. You do all the cooking and we get all the credit. It's not fair, but it is delicious!!! We even had a vegetarian throw in the towel for the night.

Seeing the operation in the old RTS space makes one appreciate the work you did in such a small room. Keep the burgers coming :rolleyes:

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Thanks all, for making us look like the best hosts EVER. You do all the cooking and we get all the credit. It's not fair, but it is delicious!!! We even had a vegetarian throw in the towel for the night.

Seeing the operation in the old RTS space makes one appreciate the work you did in such a small room. Keep the burgers coming :(

Michael, from a post this evening on Chowhound:

"The fries are of the Mcdonalds thin, crispy, and virtually potato-flavor free variety. Our batch was also quite generously salted. They appear to come from a brown paper bag, which is a most curious development."

Please forgive my asking but are you using fresh potatoes? I have not had them yet and am really hoping that your answer is, "of course."

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Michael, from a post this evening on Chowhound:

"The fries are of the Mcdonalds thin, crispy, and virtually potato-flavor free variety. Our batch was also quite generously salted. They appear to come from a brown paper bag, which is a most curious development."

Please forgive my asking but are you using fresh potatoes? I have not had them yet and am really hoping that your answer is, "of course."

Wait a minute - FRIES?!?!

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I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the addition of fries at Rays tonight. They were a little thicker than McDonalds, but not as big as the chips at Eammon's. They seem to be freshly cut--a few of mine had some skin on them. They were perfectly crispy, lightly salted, and extremely hot when they arrived with my burger.

I hesitate to add a criticism because I am very grateful that Michael decided to add fries to the menu, but I have to say that the flavor was a little lacking. I think they needed some seasoning to perk them up a bit. The perfect consistency still made them a worthy caloric splurge, however. Just my two cents.

BTW--they still have mac n' cheese and homemade coleslaw on the menu.

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"I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the addition of fries at Rays tonight. They were a little thicker than McDonalds, but not as big as the chips at Eammon's. They seem to be freshly cut--a few of mine had some skin on them. They were perfectly crispy, lightly salted, and extremely hot when they arrived with my burger.

I hesitate to add a criticism because I am very grateful that Michael decided to add fries to the menu, but I have to say that the flavor was a little lacking. I think they needed some seasoning to perk them up a bit. The perfect consistency still made them a worthy caloric splurge, however. Just my two cents."

A post from Chowhound today:

yes, them being frozen is what i hinted at in my original post...them coming from a "brown paper bag" and all. You can see it in plain sight. The guy just slits open a bag and dumps it in the fryer.

A post of mine from June of this year:

McDonald's are an absolute joke. I could not be more emphatic in my comments about this. In 1967 McDonald's had a huge advertising campaign to try and legitimize the frozen potatoes that they introduced around the United States. Prior to this they used fresh potatoes which they stored in a dark room/building for a week or more then peeled them leaving the skin on. They were cooked twice with the last time in 70% animal fat. The McD in Downey, CA which has a separate "museum" building adjacent to the restaurant has numerous photographs of the original cooking process. Growing up eating these McDonald's built a huge national reputation in part because of their french fries. When they stopped it was a travesty. It was also a comment that McDonald's was about popular culture and homogonized food and no longer about food that tasted good. Yes, good. At one time McDonald's used fresh hamburger and made milk shakes from scratch with Ray Kroc's MixMasters. There's a reason that McDonald's grew and that reason is that in the '50's and early and mid '60's it had good food, much like In-n-Out Burger does today. (In-n-Out hasn't changed since it opened in 1948; McDonald's has.)

It all came to an end in the Fall of 1966.

Today, there is one place on the face of the earth that still serves McDonald's original french fries: Dick's in Spokane, Washington. This is NOT related to the Seattle Dick's but it is a store created by a man who was turned down by McD in the late 1950's for a franchise. Frustrated, angry he went to Southern California and worked in a McD for a month or so. Then returned to Spokane and opened "Panda" (aka Dick's) serving the EXACT SAME FOOD AS McDonald's. Today, he still serves the same french fries and milk shakes although the burgers have changed a bit. I met him four or five years ago when he was in his mid '80's. He was as ferociously independent as Michael Landrum and as proud of what he had introduced to Spokane. USA Today honored him as having the second highest grossing independant fast food restaurant in America-I believe he was doing something in excess of $5 million a year with walk up windows. Serving McDonald's original food-with a "new" McDonald's down the street that sits almost empty at lunch time on most days.

Last Friday I had french fries at Duckfat in Portland, Maine ( www.duckfat.com ) who arguably may have the best french fries in America, perhaps challenging Brussel's best. (Duckfat is owned by the chef/owner of Hugo's who won this year's James Beard Award as best chef in the Northeast beating out Boston, Providence, etc. Duckfat serves a number of the exact same soups, salads and dishes that Hugo's does. At 3:00PM last Friday every single seat in the restaurant was filled-at 3:00PM!) Sitting at the counter in Old Port I thought long and hard about who has America's best french fries: Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City who still fry them in lard, Hot Doug's in Chicago who also has duck fat fried fries on weekends, Thrasher's on the lower end of the Ocean City boardwalk (ONLY this location-NO others) and Michel Richard's Central.

Not once did I give a second of thought to McDonald's of today. But Dick's in Spokane, AKA McDonald's original fries-still fried in 70% "animal" fat, may give Duckfat a run for the best on this side of the Atlantic.

Michael sorely needs to introduce french fries to Hell Burger...duck fat fried french fries. To the best of my knowledge D. C. doesn't have anything like these...yet.

If Jeffrey Steingarten noted McDonald's french fries of today he should know better. There was a huge uproar over forty years ago when they switched to frozen potatoes.

Michael, you can get as mad at me as you want to but frozen french fries do NOT compliment the hamburger you are serving. Whether you do duckfat, vegetable oil or lard at least use fresh potatoes. I just don't think of you as a frozen french fry kind of guy. Need I note that In-n-Out uses fresh potatoes?

Michael: are you using frozen potatoes for your french fries at Hell Burger?

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Please forgive my asking but are you using fresh potatoes? I have not had them yet and am really hoping that your answer is, "of course."

Joe, I read your query last night, but wanted to wait a day to see whether the world had ended or not.

We had a fryer insatlled on Monday and on Tuesday began experimentally serving fries. If I'm not wrong, today is Wednesday.

As with everything we do, our fry service will evolve and adapt based on the best product we can possibly serve reliably, consistently and on time.

For example, some fries we tested using cast iron dutch ovens as fryers over the past several weeks had a completely different flavor profile and texture using the deep fryer and so we are in the process of re-evaluating and re-testing our product and process.

Five things to keep in mind, Joe, while passing judgement:

One, we serve about three times the volume of the average Five Guys.

Two, Ray's Hell-Burger was intended to be a small, fun, side project which would quietly compliment Ray's The Steaks. Instead, it has become like one of those insane waterslides that you have described earlier--except in my case, the free fall and sense of impending death just hasn't ended--and it has been a full-time occupation over the past 16 months to keep the whole thing from crashing and burning (at a time in my work, I'm sure you can imagine, I don't exactly have a whole lot of free time).

Three, the current location of Ray's Hell-Burger is a temporary stop-gap measure necessitated to mitigate the above two points until a more stable, long-term solution is made to happen. At that time, I will certainly have more space and production options.

Four, as others have pointed out on Chowhound, we serve a broad public for whom such details may be less important just being able to get fries with their burger already.

And, five, as someone who spent six months each in San Sebastian and Biarritz, 12 hours a day, six days a week, washing, peeling, hand-cutting and twice-frying the best fries in the world, I can assure you that the right frozen potato is far superior to a fresh potato when once-frying. Subject to dissent, I know, but that is my experience.

As to something to which there is no dissent, on criteria of sheer artistry and quality, the best burgers and the best fries can be found at Palena. Or if not, then at Central.

For more discussion on the matter, let's all agree to meet at either place and we can talk the night away. They both even have cocktails, beer and wine.

That is, if the world doesn't end by tomorrow.

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Michael, you can get as mad at me as you want to but frozen french fries do NOT compliment the hamburger you are serving. Whether you do duckfat, vegetable oil or lard at least use fresh potatoes. I just don't think of you as a frozen french fry kind of guy. Need I note that In-n-Out uses fresh potatoes?

I'd never claim to be half the aficionado of any of you that read this board. But it seems to me that in order to appropriately judge a dish, even french fries, one needs to actually, in fact, in the flesh, eat the dish.

And In-n-Out's fries suck.

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Michael, I gotta tell you, although of course you know, fries matter.

My own grandmother owned a cafe that survived on burgers, fries, and beer. She made the world's best fried chicken, poor boys, and red beans and rice, but burgers and fries were her restaurant's life's blood.

I know she hand cut her fries from whole unpeeled potatoes. That's all I know. She kept her secrets.

When I eat your burgers I am transported to higher dimensions. When it comes to fries, the whole world is watching. I believe in you.

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...

And, five, as someone who spent six months each in San Sebastian and Biarritz, 12 hours a day, six days a week, washing, peeling, hand-cutting and twice-frying the best fries in the world, I can assure you that the right frozen potato is far superior to a fresh potato when once-frying. Subject to dissent, I know, but that is my experience.

As to something to which there is no dissent, on criteria of sheer artistry and quality, the best burgers and the best fries can be found at Palena. Or if not, then at Central.

I have not had Palena's french fries. Perhaps because your hamburger is so good I had hoped for a french fry to match which is why I mentioned the places above such as Duckfat in Portland, ME. As for frozen potatoes and "once-frying" of course this is preferable to not serving french fries at Hell Burger- if that is the only choice. Anyway, thank you for answering.

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I'd never claim to be half the aficionado of any of you that read this board. But it seems to me that in order to appropriately judge a dish, even french fries, one needs to actually, in fact, in the flesh, eat the dish.

And In-n-Out's fries suck.

Only (half) true if you take them as they come. But if you ask for them "well done," that is a different product.

I don't know for sure what you were implying about Joe H having or not having eaten In-n-Out fries, and he certainly doesn't need me to comment on his dining habits, but I will say he probably has eaten about 1,547 lbs. of them, so far. Michael has probably eaten fries in several hundred places, if not several thouand, but then he's liable to eat anything.

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I don't know for sure what you were implying about Joe H having or not having eaten In-n-Out fries, and he certainly doesn't need me to comment on his dining habits, but I will say he probably has eaten about 1,547 lbs. of them, so far.

I think tentimesodds meant that Joe hadn't tried the fries at Rays.

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