3801 W. Lake Mary Blvd., Lake Mary
More info in our dining guide
It’s hard enough being an independent restaurant these days, let alone an indie burger joint in chain-riddled Lake Mary. But Line Drive Burgers, a baseball-themed diner, is taking a stab at converting the suburban masses to their brand of fast-food-style hamburgers – by that I mean a lean patty, doughy toasted bun and plenty of crisp and saucy embellishments. With all the fast-food eateries within a ball’s toss of this place, Line Drive already appears to be behind in the count, but this pesky rookie has plenty in the bag to keep it in the game. OK, I’ve gone a little overboard with the baseball metaphor, but you get the gist.
Probably the most notable aspect of this newbie is its commitment to community-building and local charities. You can’t help but commend a place for donating 5 percent of every order, and 100 percent of all tips, to one of four local charitable organizations – the Community Food and Outreach Center, Sedona House, Born 2 Fly and the Sharing Center. (In case you’re wondering, LDB’s staff is paid a little more to compensate for the loss in extra income.)
On to the burgers ($4.50; 50 cents extra for cheese). There’s a definite similarity to the ones served at Five Guys Burgers and Fries – patties are thin and cooked on a flat top. While the quarter-pounders sizzle, a polite teen preps your toasted bun with a host of fresh toppings and sauces. Of the sauces, the chipotle offers a nice punch, though several house-made options with a barbecue base are there for the squirting. Toppings like spinach leaves, bacon bits, guacamole and blue cheese crumbles keep things at a gourmet level, with the resulting assemblage making for a fine burger – juicy, not greasy, and filling without disintegrating into a mess.
The handful of times we’ve visited, LDB has always produced a consistent burger, but the same can’t be said about their fries. They’re decent-quality frozen fries, but, more often than not, the crinkle fries ($2) were overdone. Served unseasoned in a bag, they beg for a sifting of seasonings (skip the cinnamon sugar) and a good shake of the sack. The curly versions ($2.25) fared a bit better, but maybe Line Drive could take a page from Five Guys and offer fresh-cut fries cooked in peanut oil. The one time we sampled the onion rings ($3.50), they were fried to a hard crunch.
No doubt there’s room for improvement here, and owner Rob Swanson has exhibited a willingness to tinker to please his customer base. Offering milkshakes ($3.50) plays to the eatery’s family-friendly approach – we liked the vanilla shake (made with Island Oasis mix), but thought the chocolate shake, made with the vanilla mix plus chocolate syrup, too cloying to enjoy.
Bratwursts ($5.25) and hot dogs ($2.75) help fill the void left when Smitty’s – the hot dog–and–ice cream shack across the street, a fave stop for cyclists riding the Cross Seminole Trail – closed its doors Oct. 1. Line Drive’s franks are butterflied and, in the case of the brats, served on a hoagie roll.
Rookie mistakes aside, Line Drive Burgers shows a lot of potential and a cheerful determination that makes you want to root, root, root for this home team. And if they don’t win, it certainly will be a shame.
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