The past two Mondays, Tim and I played a game of “Burger Roulette” when picking lunch. Both times, The Green Beetle was randomly selected. Last week I overruled the pick to get a Blackened Bayou Burger. Remember how that turned out? This week, Tim tried to overrule The Green Beetle selection in favor of Slider Inn, but I had to stand my ground saying, “We can’t go against the Burger Gods two weeks in a row.” With that we were both on board for a Beetle Burger.
The Green Beetle is the oldest tavern still open for business in Memphis. They’re located on South Main between Pearls Oyster House and South of Beale. It’s simply an awesome location in a booming part of downtown not far from Beale Street. The Trolley Line runs right in front of the tavern and there’s plenty of curbside parking available on the surrounding streets. The Green Beetle was remodeled not too long ago. It looks great inside. There’s plenty of table, side counter-top and and bar seating with lots of Memphis nostalgia decorating the walls.
The menu at The Green Beetle is fairly decent. It includes a variety of bar foods and sandwiches. There’s a dinner menu with some bigger entree’s and even a few kids’ plates. They boast that they have a world famous beer selection, but I didn’t get a chance to check that out. Tim and I were there for the burgers. The only real question was whether to order the 1/2 lb single patty burger or the 1 lb double. Our server told us the burgers were huge so we both played it safe and ordered the single 1/2 lb Beetle Burger.
Tim really thought we were going to get a great burger. At first I was skeptical, but when our server asked how I wanted it prepared, I thought maybe they actually know how to cook a winner. Of course I ordered mine medium with everything on it. Mayo, mustard and ketchup are all served on the side. When our burgers came out of the kitchen, my jaw near dropped. Our burgers were stacked tall and looked great as they approached our table. I snapped a couple of pictures and began my inspection.
Right away I had to question the bun. The menu said the Beetle Burger was served on a Kaiser bun. It didn’t look like any Kaiser roll I’d ever seen. It appeared to be more of a thick and doughy wheat bun. There was also more iceberg lettuce on my burger than found in your average side salad. It wasn’t laid out in neatly either. It was just a big hunk of lettuce heart that I had to trim up and arrange on my burger. Most of it I just pushed off to the side of my plate. Everything else appeared good to go. When I removed the bun to add some mayonnaise and mustard, I saw that it was toasted very nicely. I was ready to dig in.
My first bite revealed quite a bit. Once again I have to ask, why offer a customer a temperature choice on a burger if you’re just going to cook it past recognition? My Beetle Burger was served at least well done. There was no juiciness left to be found. The patty didn’t taste very seasoned so the only flavor I was getting other than the overcooked beef was coming from the bun. Yes, the bun. The bun turned out to be a very sweet honey whole wheat bun. The flavor just didn’t work for me. I don’t want sweetness in my hamburger. At the least I want salt and pepper, but prefer stronger seasonings, like Cavendars, Old Bay or Tony Chachere’s that enhance the beef flavor. The honey taste was just too conflicting for me and made it a pretty unenjoyable burger.
Tim, on the other hand, liked the taste. This just confirms that burger tasting is very subjective. He couldn’t believe I didn’t like what I was eating. I couldn’t believe that after so many great burgers we enjoyed together, he was digging this one. I reminded him of Alex’s, Uncle Lou’s, Stuffy’s, and Ernestine & Hazel’s. He thought the Beetle Burger was right up there. I can’t figure it out.
The Fries we were served tasted good. They were your standard restaurant style steak fries. Perhaps the same ones you’d get at Huey’s or Alex’s. They were crisp but not very seasoned either. Once I sprinkled a little salt on them, they became the best part of my meal.
I give the Beetle Burger a generous 2.5 out of 5 stars. Even though it was quite over cooked and missing flavor I believe a better bun might have saved this burger.
The Green Beetle
325 S Main St
Memphis, TN 38103
If you have a favorite burger that you think is Memphis’ best or that I need to try and review, please drop a note in my suggestion box.