4192 Conroy Road, 407-203-2848; also 11551 University Blvd., 407-985-3541 | burger21.com | $
So what’s the answer to “life, the universe and everything” in the hamburger galaxy? The folks behind this burgeoning regional chain figure it’s “21” and, hey, maybe they’re right. When I crave a burger, I really don’t want to be boggled by a mind-blasting array of options, and Burger 21 keeps it manageable with a semi-prime number of selections. A kindly gentleman may assist you if you seem overwhelmed by the fast-casual ordering process, but once you get your number and take a seat, the only thing left to do is head to the sauce bar, then take in the faintly antiseptic, modern-retro (or is it retro-modern?) decor while awaiting delivery of your burger.
There are a couple of notable features: 1) the inviting milkshake bar and 2) the convenient hand-wash sink next to the exit (and next to the sauce bar). The latter came in particularly handy on completion of the super-drippy OMG! ($10.50), a vertically impressive stack of two thick and flavorful patties, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar and all requisite veggies. Unfortunately, the brioche bun couldn’t handle the juice and quickly disintegrated to a bready pulp. The Shroom ($7.29) held up, but the burger would’ve benefited from a few more crimini mushrooms. Burgers, by the by, are cooked medium-well, unless you inform them otherwise.
There’s also a gluten-free menu – my dining partner felt the French Meadow Bakery bun was “above average” as far as gluten-free buns go, and that his Black & Bleu burger ($8.09) is one he’d happily order again. We went gluten-free with the one-pound basket ($6.49) of stringy and satisfying sweet-potato fries and the regular fries, neither of which required saucing. A sweet milkshake fashioned from Blue Bell ice cream is no bad ending.