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January 12, 2009

Our first Fatburger opens

Fatburger%20Counter.jpg

 

Regular readers know how much I like guest reviews, especially of places I haven't gotten to yet. Not only has Retired in Elkridge sent us a first look at the new Fatburger in Columbia, but it sounds like he and his wife were the first customers. Shouldn't they have gotten some sort of prize for that? EL

The Columbia/Elkridge Fatburger opened this morning at 10:30. When my DW [Dear Wife] and I got there around 11:00 we stepped through the door and the entire staff yelled out something that sounded like "Welcome to Fatburger." Apparently we were the first customers.
That didn't last long as more and more people came in. By the time we finished there was a line waiting to order. Getting back to basics, I ordered the Fatburger with cheese and bacon and Fat Fries (as opposed to Skinny), and my DW ordered the Baby Fatburger with just cheese. ...
Whenever a Fatburger, fries, or a milkshake is ordered, the counter person yells out the order and the grill staff yells it back. I guess they do this in all Fatburger locations, but it was the first for me and made for a nice atmosphere.
We were given a number to put on our table and our drink cups for the self-serve sodas. When you come in the door there is a lane to the left leading to the counter. It frames a seating area. There are more tables to the side and to the rear.
Our order came out after a short wait. Bucky might be interested to know that the relish was not that overpowering, perhaps due to the Tabasco-enhanced ketchup I added.
The burger appeared to have been hand-shaped - somewhat irregular, a good thing. It was cooked somewhat past medium with no visible pink. Don't know if you can order them to your liking, but we weren't asked. Flavor was good though a little dry. Nowhere as greasy as Five Guys. Still good, just different.
Fat Fries are just what they sound like, basically steak fries. They came out hot and not greasy, a little crisp on the outside but smooth inside. I might have liked them a bit more cooked, but that's the way I like my fries -- fried.
We had everybody from the manager on down coming by and asking how things were and if we needed anything. A very friendly group. While we were eating, a reporter and cameraman from Comcast Sports came in, taking shots of the inside and the happy patrons eating. They also interviewed people, asking about the Ravens and the tie-in with Orlando Brown (whom I was told was at some kind of reception there on Saturday).
In all we had a nice lunch. My DW, who likes things more cooked that I do was very happy with her Baby Fatburger and said it was just the right size for her dainty appetite. Definitely will go back. It is a welcome addition to the range of eating establishments. As my DW suggested, they just need a large "Grand Opening" sign out by the highway.
(Photo courtesy of Retired in Elkridge)
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 8:17 PM | | Comments (47)
        

Comments

A regular drink is 22 oz? I don't think I drank 22 oz. of soda total in the last half of 2008.

the relish was not that overpowering, perhaps due to the Tabasco-enhanced ketchup I added.

LOL...that would do it, I think.

Where is this Fatburger located? I looked on their website. No listing for Maryland.

Where is this Fatburger located?

A quick google search leads to the conclusion that it's next to Trader Joe's in the Columbia Gateway center...near Costco.

I had no idea! Time to check it out...

6630 Marie Curie Dr, Elkridge, MD 21075

Near the intersection of 175 and 108, just off 95.

Saw the Comcast Sports story last night - former Raven Orlando "Zeus" Brown is the owner.

There's a Trader Joe's in Columbia? Who knew! It's impossible to see what is in any of those shopping centers the way they're laid out.

"There's a Trader Joe's in Columbia?"

And with a little bit of luck there will be a Wegman's in a year or two, across from Apple Ford.

Also, there is a fantastic beer and wine store called "The Perfect Pour" next to Fatburger. Very impressive beer selection.

Heather - funny! I used to live in Columbia, and we always said heaven help people who ran low on gas in town. If they didn't know exactly where the gas stations were, they'd run out before they ever found one from the signage.

I've vever even heard of "Fatburger" before, but I guess it;s a reputable chain somewhere.

But isn;t it funny that in this current age of "health conscienceness" we're seeing more and more burger places pop up.

For years it was just Fudruckers and maybe Johnny Rockets. And then came along followed by Red Robin, followed by Five Guys, Cheeburger-Cheeburger (my personal favorite), and now we have "Fatburger" (that sounds healthy doesn't it?).

So much for eating healthier folks!

Donny, follows my theory about economy in toilet and fat getting fatter. I saw a story on the news last night that more people are now officially "obese" than overweight. Maybe that's because you can eat a lot of 10 for a dollar raman noodles or dollar menu burgers than fresh fruit and veggies. I'm still waiting to be nominated for a Nobel prize for this discovery!

BTW, have you all seen the commercial where the woman seriously says something about research at the Obesity Institute? It cracks me and my partner up - we keep saying "oh, TOI - graduated from there with a major in fried food and a minor in butter (the Paula Dean track).

Fatburger is another California-based burger chain that has a history that goes back to the 1950s. Unlike In-N-Out, it franchises, which is why it is expanding so rapidly.

Does Fatburger serve beer or wine?

Joyce--

Eating healthy can get expensive. It's amazig how much more expensive fruit and veggies are as opposed to burgers, fries, and potato chips.

During the lunch hour, a nice healthy salad can cost upwards of $8, while McDonald's is selling Big Mac's for $2. For people on a tight budget, that McD's can get mighty tempting. I walked by the one near my office this afternoon, and it was PACKED!

For my money, Subway is the best bet to eat somewhat healthy at lunch. I don't like cheese or mayo to begin with, so the condiment selection is not really an issue for me. The only downfall is that after a while, it can get pretty boring.

Red Robin goes back a ways here also. What was most recently Rocky Run Tap & Grill originally was a Red Robin. After they left it was a Bob's Big Boy for a while before Rocky Run opened. Wonder who's next?

Isn't that a Red Robin in difficult-to-define Towson/Loch Raven Villiage? (same parking lot as PetSmart)

A nice, healthy salad doesn't cost $8 if you make it (and the dressing) yourself. Not unless you are putting caviar on it.

Isn't that a Red Robin in difficult-to-define Towson/Loch Raven Villiage? (same parking lot as PetSmart)

If you mean the PetSmart at Joppa Road and Goucher Boulevard, that definitely doesn't qualify as Loch Raven Village in my opinion. It would have been Eudowood in the old days, but that's probably another forgotten place name (anyone remember the Eudowood Sanitarium?) I'd probably call that Towson nowadays.

Loch Raven Village is the area around Loch Raven Blvd south of Putty Hill Avenue and north of Taylor Avenue/Goucher Boulevard.

Gods, I wish you folks would settle on your town and neighbourhood names! It is hard enough finding Towson without finding out that it may or may not be certain places.

Don't even get me started on where Canton is. It appears to be eating Highlandtown at a rapid rate.

Heck, I can't even figure out if I work Downtown or in Mt. Vernon. Or maybe Federal Hill. That's been expanding, too, I hear.

Joyce W. and Donny B-
Michael Pollan has written much about the conundrum of cheap vs. healthy food in "The Omnivore"s Dilemma" and how our agricultural system has gotten us to our current state. He's been on TV recently and you can probably catch him on youtube. He's worth a listen.

Joyce, I noticed today that the sun is starting to set later. Let's hope for brighter days ahead!

Laura Lee - Brighter days ahead indeed, just whether or not I can weather it out remains to be seen! LOL!

Donny is right, Lissa. If you buy salad at a workplace cafeteria where they charge by the ounce a nice size salad is around $5 for me but I believe a man would require a bigger one. And, point well taken, we should be brown bagging and often too.

I was in Columbia yesterday, so I tried Fatburger. I arrived prior to the lunchtime rush (like RiE) and ordered a Fat Deal meal (1/3-lb Fatburger with cheddar cheese and bacon, Fat Fries, and soda). There was an awfully long wait for the food, given the lack of customers at the time and the huge kitchen staff. The burger was pretty good -- slightly pink inside (although, as with RiE, they didn't ask me about the desired degree of doneness), and somewhat greasy (though I can't compare it to Five Guys, having not been there yet). I did think that it was rather small for the stated 1/3-lb size, but I think I was mentally comparing it to Fuddruckers, which steers its customers to its 1/2-lb burgers. Fatburger does offer a 1/2-lb Kingburger, and if I should ever return, I think I'd order a Kingburger and try the Skinny (regular) Fries instead of the Fat (steak) Fries.

My meal cost $10.06 ($7.99 for the Fat Deal, plus $0.60 for the cheese, $0.90 for the bacon, and sales tax). That's in the same ballpark, price-wise, as Fuddruckers, but a lot more than what you'd pay for a combo meal at McDonald's.

As for ambiance, I was turned off by the jukebox blaring music at high volume (although that is, apparently, a hallmark of the chain). They also have a tip box at the cash register, with separate slots for Fat Tips ($1.00 or more) and Skinny Tips (under $1.00). I found the tip box to be annoying, given that the only "service" you get (over and above what you'd get at McDonald's) is that your food is delivered on a tray to your table if you're eating in.

EEL -- the Columbia Fatburger doesn't serve alcohol, although a Google search indicated that some West Coast units of the chain are licensed to sell beer and wine.

Two additional points on my review: (1) A copy of the menu is posted in a clear plastic frame in front of each register, which speeds the process of figuring out what extras you want on your burger. That sure beats continually staring up at the overhead menu board. (2) You can get a fried egg on your burger (though I'm not exactly wild about the thought -- and, anyway, the Sandbox already kicked that topic around in connection with Abbey Burger Bistro).

Hal - Remember Eudowood plaza (which is now Towson Marketplace). That was the original site of the Eudowood Sanitarium. I lived in Loch Raven village until I was 5, returned in my 20's and have lived there since. We used to walk all the time to Eudowood and also Luskins. We laugh now at the thought of my older sister being all of 8-9yrs old, walking me 4-5 yrs old all the way to Luskins. Would not see many parents allowing that these days. However, my mother came from the generation where it was quite ok to sit back, have a gin & tonic, and let the big sister handle things! Do you remember the name of the restaurant that was in the plaza? It was a BYOB, and it had the best hushpuppies!

And Eve - Yes that is a Red Robin. And it is VERY family oriented. The one time I ate there (I refuse to shop at that mall, the parking lot alone makes me insane), it was like Romper Room exploded.

As far as chain burgers go, Five Guys is my favorite. I don't know what it is about them, but they just taste better to me.

Here goes
The Best
1. Five Guys
------------------
Really, Really Good
2. Fatburger
3. Wendy's
4. In-n-out Burger
5. Johnny Rockets
-----------------
Just okay (not worth the calories)
6. Red Robin
7. Fuddruckers
8. Burger King
-----------------
Not for me
9. Cheeburger Cheeburger
10. McDonalds

Did I miss any? I kind of consider myself a fast food burger connoisseur... that's pretty sad. Thank god for the treadmill!

Joyce W.
Whaethre
The worst spell of weather I've ever seen.

bob: What? The Heart Attack Grill doesn't even make your list?

bob,
Hardee's is pretty good, with their Thickburgers.

Trixie,
I remember Eudowood Plaza! Didn't it at one time have one of those Bell catalog stores with a funny looking facade?

PCB Rob -- the late, lamented "Tilt Building" at Eudowood was a Best Products showroom, not a W. Bell (although both were catalog store chains). A slideshow of several of the Best Products showrooms, including Eudowood, is available at this site.

PCB Rob - Yeah, I can't remember exactly but didn't it either have a big "crack" down the front, or it looked askew?

Thanks hmpstd,

After I hit the post button, I thought, was that a Bell, or a Best store?

Wow Trixie, the memories are flooding back. I used to walk across the whole length of Eudowood Plaza to get to Loch Raven Junior High School. My parents still live in Towson Estates which has become entirely surrounded by development, commercial and otherwise. I know what you mean about walking all over as young kids. One of my biggest frustrations as a parent now is that if I allowed my children the degree of freedom and mobility we had growing up, someone would be calling Child Protective Services.

Back to Eudowood: I think the name of the restaurant was Harvest House. There was also a soda fountain in Woolworths where you could pop a balloon to find the price written down on a slip of paper (I lucked out once and got a banana split for a nickel). Also, Drug Fair had a snack shop where we'd stop on the way home from school for a sprite. Then there was the coffee shop in Monkey Wards with its Chicken in a Basket. Also, Martins Eudowood. My first savings account was at Equitable Trust. Mom used to send me over to Pantry Pride for a loaf of bread. Got Home Ec supplies at Joann's. It was fun running through those covered outdoor corridors (the metal support posts painted a rather lurid shade of blue). When they were constructing the Best store we were never quite sure when it was finished; walked under that tilted wall with much trepidation. It looked like a scene set from a Hollywood disaster movie. I think the only entity remaining from that original shopping center is the Post Office.

Well, thanks for indulging my trip down memory lane. Towson Marketplace is a grotesque replacement of my childhood stomping ground.

Laura Lee - "Monkey Wards"...I haven't heard that for years. (And I never quite understood why my grandpa called it that.)

So, what was the name of the shopping center further down Joppa Rd near Perring? I always thought THAT was Eudowood. The one that had the mini Hutzlers or Hoschilds? There used to be some kind of burger/steak place in the middle of the parking lot.

Joyce- are you thinking of Perring Plaza? It's still there though drastically changed. Don't remember a mini Hutzlers or Hoschilds but there was Korvettes. And Club Venus.

Trixie, you are quite right that parenting standards have changed dramatically. One of our friends once told me that her mother used to lock all the kids out of the house until dinner time (presumably so she could drink in peace and quiet). Today that would indeed be grounds for calling protective services.

Laura Lee - I don't know if you ever ventured down to Loch Raven Elementary school. The old library was behind it, kind of tucked away in the woods (I believe it is still there, just spruced up). Anyway, on the outside it had a bunch of "tunnels" and little cubby holes that I would always play in...being the tomboy that I was! I too remember being slightly hesitant in walking under the Best store wall.

Thanks hmpstd for that link!

Joyce - Are you thinking of North Plaza Mall (there is a Bill Batemans in there now), and across Joppa is Perring Plaza (Home Depot)?

Joyce and Laura Lee,

Wasn't there an Epstein's in that shopping center as well?


Equitable Trust, I used to work for them, in their processing center on 20th Street. I did the Harvey Wallbanker transactions on twilight shift after going to college during the day.

Laura Lee & Trixie - Lord, yes! It was North Plaza Mall & the meat place was the Ground Round. A mind is a terrible thing to waste!

Joyce, I believe Bill Bateman's is now where the Ground Round, or as you call it the meat place : - D, used be.

Laura Lee, you don't strike me as the type who would know about Club Venus!

Dahlink - Seriously chuckling to myself about your friend's mother! Growing up we had another family that we did everything together, vacations, going to the pool, etc...I don't know if anyone remembers Beaver Springs in Cockeysville (not Beaver dam, right next store). It had 4 or 5 big pools, and the Quarry (god only knows what was at the bottom of that thing!). Well the moms would make themselves a big thermos of gin & tonics for the day, and just let the kids run wild. Again, being just a youngin', it's truly amazing I am not at the bottom of the quarry. Ah, the good old days! P.S. My mother really is not an alcoholic!

North Plaza had what I think they called a Hochschild's Plaza Shop, which had a limited range of merchandise. (I can't recall if the "Plaza Shop" monicker also applied to the Hochschild-Kohn store at Kenilworth Mall in Towson, which was also rather small.)

Fl Rob, we used to call it E.P. Steins (for some reason unknown to me now!

Trixie and Dahlink, when we were growing up you didn't have Child Protective Services breathing down you parent's necks like they do now (for better or for worst!) There used to be a family near us with a kid in every grade and no mom (passed away). Those boys ran wild and their dad was quite amiably hanging out drinkign beer with the fellows. Don't know how that would fly these days!

Trixie and Laura Lee, you both must be around my age (it's okay, it's not so bad). I'd forgotten about Drug Fair, Harvest House, and some of the other names.

I think that the Eudowood Sanitarium may have been on the hill across Goucher Blvd from Eudowood Shopping Center (there's an apartment complex there now), but I'm not absolutely certain. I was pretty young then, and I've burnt a lot of brain cells in the ensuing years.

I also have fuzzy memories that Joppa Road went down a lot lower that it does now across what is now Goucher Blvd., and there was a railroad bridge that went across it (probably the Ma and Pa). I think there might be some remnants of the old Joppa Rd to the north of the current Joppa Rd.

If we're not careful, this digression could digress to the old Hamburger Junction in Carney (which, to bring things full circle, is probably now considered Parkville).

Joyce, I may have worked with a couple of the brothers from that family about 10 years ago. Apparently, they all have daughters. So fitting.

hey trixie--

That place with the good hushpuppies in Eudawood was called the "Family Fish House."

Speaking of that area and the old Luskin's, does anyone remember DUFF'S, the ""all-u-can-eat" smorgasboard that used to be next to the Luskin's.

Donny B - Yes, that's it!! Thank you so much. My mother always said it was a Long John Silver, but I always disagreed, mostly because of the whole BYOB thing. And I do remember DUFF'S, while I don't think I ever ate there. At one point or another, I believe there was a Pier 1 or something like that up there also. On the many trips my sister and I used to make "up the hill", I was petrified to go into that store because they had a bear skin rug hanging from the ceiling(you know, with the actual head still attached!)

Yes that place was called the Family Fish House. I still remember those hushpuppies. I am going to guess they were so good because #1, lard was used instead of vegetable shortening, and #2 because they didn't clean the vats as often as a restaurant would now.

I ate at Duff's at least one time. I don't have a good memory of it because I was sick later that night and the next couple of days. Not because of the place but because of a virus. However, my mind still has that sour memory of it.

Pier 1, Duff's (then Horn and Horn), Luskins and Bill's Carpet were all up there at one time. I used to love watching the 4th of July fireworks from my front lawn. Also, nothing to me said Christmas better than seeing the Santa on the building facade.

It's funny. I would walk to school each day and would ride my bike in the same area. But now, you would be hard-pressed to see kids walking to school in the Baltimore area.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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