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Photo by Rob Bartlett

Burgers, beer and all-American cheer converge at Teak Neighborhood Grill 

Grinding it out

The burger is, without question, America's greatest contribution to world cuisine, and arguably the ideal comestible to pair with a pint (or two) of a crafty brew. Its essence is inviolable; even after trendy beatdowns and makeovers (ramen burger, anyone?), neither breakfast, lunch nor dinner can stave off its dominance, in the most dingy of fast food joints or the most bougie of big-city bistros. In fact, long before they became symbols of our grotesque fast food nation, McDonald's Big Mac and Quarter Pounder were seminal figures in my earliest food remembrances. Sure, the burger's come a long way since then, but I nevertheless hold a strong affection for those "you deserve a break today" memories of yore.

Over in MetroWest, Teak Neighborhood Grill fancies itself a memory-maker for the new burger generation, and largely succeeds with their hefty half-pounders fashioned from Angus beef. A turkey burger ($12) is offered – as is the requisite, and falsely advertised, "certified Kobe beef burger" ($15). According to the Kobe Beef Association, only eight restaurants in the U.S. are certified to sell Kobe beef. Sister resto RusTeak once employed the same burger descriptor before "correcting" the menu to say "Snake River Farms American Kobe beef." Restaurants ought to stop gilding the lily and just call it "American wagyu" – if a half-pound of certified beef from Kobe were actually used in this burger, it would A) melt into a pool of fat and B) cost about $100. (End rant.)

The labels on the beer menu, however, held our attention in a good way. Peach lagers and banana-bread ales were all fine and dandy quaffed with spongy, airy pretzel rolls ($8), but our burgers warranted a heavy hitter like Southern Tier's Warlock – a pumpkin imperial stout. For the purist in our group, the "Plain Jane" ($11) with American cheese, Bibb lettuce and tomato on a sturdy brioche bun did the trick, as did sidewinder fries, but another comrade and I had our sights set on grander productions: the blackened, blue-cheese-crumbled patty of the "OMG Burger" ($13) crunched with housemade chips, for example. It wasn't greasy in the least and the pretzel worked a lot better as a bun than it did as a roll. We quite enjoyed the side of sweet potato tots with it as well.

The "Wholey Hell!!!" ($12) was, as you'd imagine, hot, but three exclamation points kinda hot? Not so much, and that's a good thing, frankly. The effects of ghost pepper cheese, fresh-cut jalapeños, hot sauce AND another secret spicy sauce were like tiny stilettoed demons prancing about in my mouth, or so my imagination would have me believe. A side of garlic bistro fries acted like buccal cushions, absorbing the momentary sting and prick of the peppers.

We thought it would be funny to order the donut burger ($13) as a pre-dessert of sorts, then ceased all laughter when the monstrosity, which came out smelling like the North Carolina State Fair, was set before us. Two glazed fatties from Donut King cradled a thick patty gooped with American cheese and crossed with two pieces of bacon. In a word: ree-dic-u-lous. It made our actual dessert – a cronut ($6) topped with ice cream, caramel sauce and powdered sugar – look like a Jenny Craig snack.

Needless to say, after downing our fill of beef and guzzling all those empty carbs, we took a moment to collect ourselves before we lumbered out of Teak.

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