"Go Way West, Young Man" or "West Tavern: Manifest Density"
West Tavern, formerly known as Westy's Tavern and Wes Y's Tavern and That Shithole Cop Bar, reopened a few months back with little fanfare but big changes. Firstly, the owners finally ditched the dilapidated sign in favor of a laminated tarp bearing the new-ish name. And that's the only change. But the tarp's big, so there you go.
They also supposedly got a new chef, or at least had someone consult on their menu, and Foobooz reported that they had created a dev site for "the dirty burger." A chef I never heard of from a bar I never heard of devised it from ingredients he wouldn't divulge and that I, therefore, never heard of. Still, something about it was alluring to us. Probably the word "burger."
Walking into West Tavern, I was immediately filled with dread. The bar's revamping was limited to a once-over with some Lemon Pledge and a dirty dishrag, and in all other respects it maintained its Reagan recession aura of optimistic despair. As the lumbering bison of a karaoke host bellowed George Straight into an empty bar, Laurence walked up to the bartender to place our orders.
"Did you get mine medium rare?" I asked.
"She didn't ask how we wanted them done."
The Burger: The dirty burger comes with nothing except their “dirty spices,” which make it look like they used the meat patties to scour rust off the pipes. Except that the pipes are still rusty. The fries also come with extra rust.
Kyle: The dirty burger is without question the ugliest burger we've seen. You know how some dogs are so ugly they're cute? This burger is like that, but the opposite.
West Tavern makes no attempt to deny that this thin strip of meat-like product came straight out of a box in the freezer, and that the box didn't say "Garces Trading Co." The last time I had this burger was in elementary school, where it was so smothered in ketchup that you could almost forget there was a sandwich involved in the sandwich.
Similarly, West Tavern tries to distract you from the piss-poor quality by slathering the patty with so many overpowering seasons that you forget you're eating something made primarily from ground tires. It doesn't work. While at first it seems like there's a lot going on, after a few bites you realize the secret rub tastes almost exactly like the dollar-store knockoff of Jimmy Dean microwave maple sausage.
If only the meat had the same quality. The word "ammonia" comes to mind. The parts that are not so rubberized as to forcefully rebound your jaw are filled with an infinite gristle hyper combo finish.
To complement the low-brow dirty aesthetic, you're given the worst looking potato bun on the planet. Bread doesn't get mashed that much in the truck, which leads me to believe they add an extra bit of love when they make your meal by deliberately mangling the bun. The french fries have the same dirty rub as the burger, and they come with a side of mayo with chives, which tastes exactly like mayo with chives. They fries are also made mostly of potato, which gives them an advantage over the rest of the meal.
The best thing you can say about the dirty burger is it doesn't taste bad. Okay, that's a lie, it tastes horrible, but the ingredients themselves shouldn't. Maple, honey, molassass, cayanne pepper and whatever else they threw in there are not bad flavors. But combined to satiric excess, they also aren't good flavors. Still, it fits in your mouth and probably won't make you throw up, and that's ultimately what you should derive from this review: the dirty burger can be successfully consumed and digested. It just shouldn't be. Rating: 2/10.
*Editors Note: This article is disgusting and reading it will make you feel ill. Though in all honesty reading it is a lot better than actually consuming the burger discussed.
Laurence: Eating at West Tavern is best told backward, kind of like Memento. Why backward? Mainly because the meal doesn't really end after you've finished it. It has a long protracted story and at the end of that story you'll be asking yourself, with pain, shame, and mostly regret, how you've come to be in this situation. In thinking of the chain reaction you'll inevitably retrace your steps and end up staring at a burger. Though calling it a burger is something of a misnomer.
I also like stories that end with happiness and since a trip to West Tavern definitely doesn't, I can use a little trickery of time to put the bad up front and then conclude with a happy ending. So, let me start at the end.
I'm resting my face on cold porcelain. My hands are embracing the toilet's base and I muse at how something with which I generally try to avoid such intimate contact has become a great comfort.
I am finished writhing in pain for a moment. It is time to regroup.
I am un-vomitting. With each stomach expansion the bile and stomach acid re-enter my mouth and stomach at high velocity, and I feel a worse and worse. Eventually the entire contents of my stomach has reentered my body and I rise from the floor and begin sprinting backward toward my bed, where I quickly pull covers over my body and begin clutching my stomach.
I am sleeping uneasily, I am falling quickly asleep and then drifting slowly back to consciousness.
I get up from bed and wander to the bar backwards feeling a bit happier with each stride.
I am entering the bar and the bartender gives me money. Then I return to a stool next to Kyle and begin reassembling a burger from parts in my mouth.
This bite of food is dreadful, I muse. Kyle is an idiot for picking this bar. Kyle has terrible taste. I am agreeing with Kyle. Kyle is reflecting, “This burger blows.”
Why would anyone would steam a bun? The bun which is reconstituting itself from my mouth is still a wet lumpy mess. If one wasn't sure this story was moving backwards he or she would be hard pressed to tell me if the bun had been chewed or not. Time is absolutely relative here. The bun, I find, has been steamed, a special treatment process designed to make something far more unpleasant that it was to begin with. The bun is bad by any measure. It is a store-bought potato roll that Fat Tony sat on while driving it over from southern Jersey while farting on it. It is smashed and mangled and has an odor that does not resemble bread.
I am analyzing a chunk of gristle and then putting it back in my mouth where it attracts my teeth together like a magnetic force. I am frowning. Then I make an only mildly disappointed face.
The marketing gimmick that is “The Dirty Burger” has struck me. I can see through the veil. Someone who can't cook and is probably being paid by the company that makes that red “Seasoned Salt”stuck up a website and got a shitty bar on a shitty corner to cook it. I can't tell who got played worse, the bar that serves the stuff or the customer. I wonder who actually is making out well on this deal. I know who is not. This though fades from my mind and disappears as my neurons suck in electrical impulses and my second pint of Exit 4 returns to my blood from my brain where the blood returns the alcohol to my stomach and it exits my mouth into my glass.
I understand how the dirty burger works. By covering meat that couldn't be sold to humans in a array of strong flavors that are usually good, it is possible to sell terrible burgers and market them in a way as to make people want to eat them. I am tasting an odd, unpleasant flavor but it is being quickly overpowered by the tastes of every spice on the rack and a bunch of salt. I am wondering if the meat under this thick coating of red dust could possibly contain enough flavor to be detected. Then, I consider the chances that this burger could possibly be good.
As I remove the burger from my mouth and look at it incredulously, I place it back down on the plate and ponder what a sad flat looking thing it is. I note that the fries are not very good by most standards but the coating of salt and garlic salt make them enjoyable enough to keep me pleased. I put some fries back onto the plate. I feel lingering irritation and the feeling we've chosen poorly. A waitress drops something resembling a burger on the table. Suddenly I am very excited. I see a waitress walking away from us with two plates. Kyle and I sit and drink Exit 4 which is on draft. I think that this bar must have something going for itself and choose to ignore the terrible atmosphere until I have tried the food.
I walk to the bar and a waitress removes ink from her pad of paper. I am confused that by a statement. The waitress tells me all burgers are cooked well done. I tell her I want two dirty burgers. I leave the bar and return to Kyle where we undrink some more beer. We leave the bar. I am noting the bar hasn't changed much despite it's hype. I am excited to reach the bar. I'm feeling hungry. I think that this burger will probably be pretty good after all the last burger we had that was so sparse was at Pub and Kitchen. Any burger that takes meat that seriously probably has a lot going on. Kyle picked this bar. Kyle has pretty good taste. I greet Kyle. Rating: 2/10.
I've put a lot of dirty things in my mouth, and this is the one I regret most.