You can be the best Pilates-taking, nonfat-latte-drinking, flossing-religiously kind of person, and yet there will come a time -- possibly lunchtime -- when only a cheeseburger will do. Not a mass-produced, held under a heat lamp burger, either. When that cheeseburger moment arrives, don't risk disappoint with a lesser burger. Go to City View Tavern (403 Oregon St., 513-241-8439) in Mount Adams and have the Big Ted.
City View, one of our fair city's more historic drinking establishments, doesn't have an extensive menu. They've got the Big Ted cheeseburger ($5.25), a variation sans condiments and a variation sans meat. They've got gazpacho on the menu, a hot mett and a barbecue sandwich, too -- although they had none of these on the day of our visit.
Chef/part-owner/bartender Silas is not going to tell you some line of bullshit about this.
"No soup," he said.
"The metts'll be in later. And the barbecue, I haven't started making that yet. And it takes a whole day."
In other words, have the cheeseburger.
And there is no bullshit about the burger when it arrives in its plastic basket, paired with a bag of Husman's chips. No bacon, no avocado, not even any French fries. The deluxe version of the Big Ted features a slice of tomato, a little diced onion, the usual condiments, a dill pickle slice or two and some chopped up iceberg lettuce -- all on a pretty ordinary Kaiser roll.
Then tell me, Silas, why is this burger so delicious? So juicy? So incredibly flavorful? Is there a secret sauce? A marinade? Is there a lot of pepper on there?
"There might be," he says, grinning.
We are too enraptured by each bite to pursue this line of questioning any further. My guest, an erudite traveler who dines regularly in big cities around the globe, was impressed.
"This is the tastiest, most flavorful burger I've eaten in, well, ever."
I nodded in agreement. My mouth was full.
The other City View legend is the Bloody Mary. Even if you are there on a workday, don't miss it. Get the Virgin version ($5.75). My guest, who keeps a bottle of Tabasco next to the stapler on his desk, tasted the Virgin Mary and smiled broadly.
"What is this?" he asked, wiping the fiery pepper mix that edged his tall glass onto his finger and then licking it off. "Is there some Old Bay in there?"
The wily Silas acknowledges that there might be. And some Cajun seasoning. But he's not giving away any secrets.
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