First there was LeRoy’s Chicken (Leh-Roy, not Lee-Roy, bubba). They had everything going for it – high quality chicken, a classically trained and respected chef, rich and trendy pork lard for frying, and beautiful broasting fryers. Everything, except a consistently well executed fried chicken with an enjoyable (read: not flacid and falling apart gummy) exterior. While I’m told it eventually improved, they never recovered from the initial miscues.
The veneer, signage, and most importantly, those broasters, remained. Then came Curly’s Fried Chicken. The color scheme changed, prices went down, product became consistent though unimportant (yet they found their way on to Bourdain’s The Hangover in what was surely a logistical filming convenience), and….they promptly closed, citing a search for a new venue.
Enter Ben’s Brown Bag, which opened yesterday. They bill themselves as “Atlanta’s newest fast food restaurant”. Sloppy Joe’s, burgers, and PB&J. Take-out only.
$5 for a burger. $2 for cheese. The website menu says $1 for cheese. $2 for fries. I asked if the sea salt and vinegar was a seasoning on top of fries. Affirmative. Five minutes later my bag lunch arrived.
I ate in the car. Wait. Those are chips, not fries. Though, they are good. Hot, right out of the broaster! Nobody wants to move those damn things. If they ever come up for sale I’m putting one in my dream kitchen.
The burger. Very soft, slightly sweet toasted bun. Nice.
Interior shot. Gross to see half eaten food, I know, but it gives you a better idea of what we’re talking about here. It went down quickly.
Though it’s local (North Carolina local) beef and a homemade soft bun, this is not a gourmet burger. Simplicity. A touch of sweetness. It’s an order at the counter burger. It’s a tastes-like-beef burger. It’s a makes you happy, snarf it down…fast food burger.
I’ve had this burger before. It took me a few hours and I just remembered. Sorry for the terrible pic but this is me eating a Pat Lafrieda Custom Burger from the Delta terminal at LGA. The Lafrieda beef is a little juicier, fattier, but they are very, very close. It was clear combination of sweetness and beef that triggered my taste memory. They are very much the same. No frills, just satisfying in a fast food context.
I’d like it if Ben’s went back to the initial plan of $1 for cheese and maybe a touch bigger patty to accomodate the larger bun. Cook it a smidgen less as the fat content seems low. You got a winner.
Parking is tough here. It’s all to-go, and there is no indoor waiting area. I wish them best of luck. I will be back to try more.