Of burgers, doughnuts, onion rings and beer at BadaBoomz
Aside from deep-fried Pepsi, no culinary concoction this summer has had pop food fans buzzing as much as the burgers at BadaBoomz. What’s so special about a burger, you ask? Well, actually, it’s not the burger that has people reeling, though this one is a wonderfully chargrilled, beefy, high-quality burger you’ll want to sink your teeth into. What’s different about these burgers ($8) is what they come on. Exit your typical, ho hum bun. Enter a Long’s Bakery glazed doughnut, sweet as can be, sliced in half, its sticky sides facing inward to keep your fingers “clean.”
Heart attack on a plate, you say? A new culinary foe to be conquered, this critic says! And conquer I did, on a recent lunch run, hoping to add another notch to my belt of gastronomic victories. But how was this a victory when I’d hardly blink at its constituent forms? After all, there’s nothing odd about a bacon cheeseburger or a doughnut, really. Only tradition makes this pairing novel.
So, how was it? I don’t have an essentially sweet tooth, but there was something reminiscent of breakfast in the doughnut-bacon combo, though I held back on my usual healthy dose of ketchup. The bottom half of the doughnut also tends to sop up a lot of juice, so you’ll need some extra napkins anyway. Suffice it to say it’s a combo that makes you rethink the American standard. But it’s not likely to conquer territory firmly held by the iconic sesame-studded roll.
I wasn’t even going to eat it. At least not then. I had planned to go back later and have it, maybe after a night of drinking, for which it would be the perfect antidote. But when my requests for babyback ribs and, later, the top sirloin were met with, “Oh, we’re out of that,” fate was suddenly dictated my lunch choice. Get the burger, already, the waitress seemed to be saying. So I did.
Still, it was a little disappointing that so many things were missing or off kilter at a restaurant just a couple of months in operation under its new format. Beer-heads and wing lovers alike will remember the downtown location of BadaBoomz as a former Buffalo Wild Wings, albeit it the one with the best beer selection in town. Kudos go to owner, suds aficionado and entrepreneur Mike DeWeese for going independent and turning a wing joint into a spiffy, more refined eatery, already with two locations (the other up Lafayette Road).
On Maryland Street, a makeover that added new furniture and soothing gold and copper tones, as well as a nonsmoking dining room, has made this place a lot more appealing to a wider range of diners. A lunchtime dance party soundtrack might be a little jarring to some, but a much-expanded menu suggesting great beer and wine pairings shows the care DeWeese has taken in making his new “Ale House” different from other like eateries around town. Where else would they tell you that a big, brown Arrogant Bastard Ale goes with the Aloha chicken sandwich while a fruity Rogue Dead Guy goes with the Cuban?
Unfortunately, going it alone can have its pitfalls, and we suffered through a few too many kinks of a restaurant still trying to get things right. An appetizer of “Da Bombz” ($6), an Italian version of Scotch eggs, had too little sausage coating around hardboiled eggs and little kick in the accompanying marinara sauce. Just some simple seasoning on the cut insides of the eggs would have made this better. Super thick, doughnut-sized onion rings ($6) were golden and crisp on the outside, but, digging in, we were shocked to find clumps of uncooked flour trapped in the interior, indicating some amateur treatment in the back. We pushed most of them aside.
That popular Cuban sandwich ($8) was plentifully stuffed, though almost too much ham and some rather thick-cut bread kept this from being the kind of crispy, hot and melting classic we’d expected. A hotter sandwich press would have helped. Thankfully, waffle fries on the side ($1 extra) were super crunchy and delicious, some of the best around. A triple berry stack ($4) with quite moist sponge cake and berries layered with cream cheese was also a winner for dessert, one of the small touches that does hit the mark at this playful and inviting independent eatery.
BadaBoomz Ale House & Grill
15 E. Maryland St.
4930 Lafayette Road
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-midnight
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Food: Three stars
Atmosphere: Three and a half stars
Service: Three and a half stars
Recommended dishes: burgers, waffle fries, triple berry stack