It took a while to do it, but I finally got around to revisiting an old favorite for what I believed was one of the best cheeseburgers in Memphis. On my best burger list, I ranked Fresh Slices Sidewalk Cafe & Deli seventh on the strength of its Bacon Deluxe Cheeseburger. Unfortunately, I relied on previous eating techniques for current opinions about my favorite cheeseburgers. Back in the day when I wasn't health-conscious, I used to dip cheeseburgers in cups of mayo to make them creamier. By doing this, I was masking out the taste of the burgers which in turn led to false conclusions. Consequently, I never got a real sense of the quality of my favorite bacon burger. Meanwhile, my friend Seth (blogger for Best Memphis Burger) had a low opinion of Fresh Slices' burgers. As an avid reader of his blog, that really surprised me (to be clear, he didn't review Fresh Slices but instead opined about it in responding to comments that I posted on his blog and Twitter). When it comes to burgers, I agree with Seth's opinions about 95% of the time and not too disagreeable when we're not in sync. That said, our differences about Fresh Slices was an anomaly that I wanted to resolve. However, the last time that I tried to disprove Seth was with our disagreement over Dyer's. In his initial review, he said "I found the taste of the burger almost completely missing. Even with a triple cheeseburger, all I tasted was the bun" (a conclusion that I agree with). Like with Fresh Slices, I thought that he was wrong in his assessment but I eventually saw the light. In the case of Dyer's, it was more about the Heinekens than Hellmann's that clouded my judgment about the greasy cheeseburgers (by the way, I'm also drinking less alcohol, albeit for different reasons). Anyway, I thought for sure that Seth was off the mark about Fresh Slices, but my recent experience has proven me wrong again.
SIDE NOTE: Since Seth's first review, he has had a change of heart about Dyer's. Also, Seth recently appeared in an episode of Travel Channel's Burger Land that highlighted two of Memphis best burger joints. They were Alex's Tavern and a place that uses 100-year old grease to cook its burger patties (Dyer's). Seth did a great job on the show, just like he does on his blog. It's worth checking out.
|This was taken on a Saturday afternoon about two years ago. I feel that this is a better|
picture than the one I took recently. By the way, with my birthday in September,
does anyone want to hook me up with a camera? Just kidding.
On the night (Tuesday) that I visited Fresh Slices, the place was empty. Compared to years past when the place was full on weeknights, seeing this was shocking. Undeterred, I picked out a table to sit at and placed my order. It was good to know that the menu didn't change much since my last visit, although it wouldn't have mattered. I was there for one thing, the Bacon Deluxe Cheeseburger with steak fries. My friendly server promptly took my order that arrived a few minutes later.
When I got my Bacon Deluxe Cheeseburger, I didn't know what to expect. Eating the burger without mayonnaise was hard for me to grasp, but I had to know if my confidence in it would hold true. As it turned out, the only redeeming attribute about the burger was its peppered bacon. Far better than most places, the smoked flavor in Fresh Slices' bacon turns an average burger into something slightly better. Without it, the cheeseburger would get a grade of "C" as opposed to a "B-" for being slightly better than average. The beef patty (cooked "medium" as opposed to my request for "medium rare") had the requisite seasoning that was far from distinctive. In addition to the bacon, the cheeseburger came with cheddar and Swiss cheeses, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and onions (which I left off) within an artisan-style bun for something that is good but far from great. While it wasn't a "disaster," Fresh Slices' Bacon Deluxe Cheeseburger isn't among Memphis' best. It turns out that Seth was right again, to some degree. With regards to my burger rating, it has fallen to eighteenth and it (along with Dyer's) will likely fall off my list if I find better burgers. I hate admitting when I'm wrong, but I'm a man enough to accept it.
Overall, my recent experience at Fresh Slices wasn't a total disappointment. I left the place with some sense of satisfaction but not the high that I was looking for. With my new perspective, I can't look at Fresh Slices like I used to. In fact, with the Bacon Deluxe Cheeseburger being about the only reason for dining there, I'm less likely to eat there in the future. Nothing against Fresh Slices, but there are many nearby places that serve better food. However, the good service and atmosphere will make me an occasional visitor.
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Labels: American, Burgers, Midtown, Multiple Locations