Monday, February 13, 2012

French Fry Diary 335: Burgers in Paradise

We have a special treat for folks this week. While I'm busy running the Virtual Book Tour for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES by my friend author Fran Metzman, another good friend of mine, Terry Willitts will be guest blogging here at French Fry Diary this week.

First up, Burgers in Paradise...


Burgers in Paradise is a relatively new addition to the Food Court in the Seminole Towne Center Mall in Sanford, FL. On a whim, I thought I'd pop in and try it out - I had not heard anything about it, so this was a completely blind date. It was December 12, mid afternoon, so the mall was packed with people doing their Christmas shopping, but I was just there to grab something to eat. I had planned to walk the mall, but one of my sandals blew out, and I still had a grocery run to make, so I stayed in the Food Court instead.

From the menu, it seemed they were a basic burger joint, with a little more variety than a Five Guys, but not the convoluted menu of a fast food restaurant. There was a line, but the wait wasn't that long, and the order taker (her name was Terri, which I only remember as my name is Terry) was very polite and in the Christmas spirit. The drink menu included fountain drinks (Coke products, iced tea) and bottled/canned drinks (water, flavoured water, Pepsi products), giving a decent variety. I ordered a Bacon Burger with cheese (strangely the Bacon Cheeseburger wasn't on the menu, had to get a Bacon Burger and pay for cheese to be added.) The food was cooked quickly enough (but fresh to the order, so it took a few minutes) on a black top. My burger, an order of fries and a large soda came to over nine dollars - pretty much what you can expect to pay for a combo for a good burger.
Sadly, this was not a good burger. It wasn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't good. When I sat down and got my burger out, I could hear the little old lady from the Wendy's commercial demanding to know where the beef was. The patty was VERY thin, I'm sure it was a frozen burger (not that I have any particular problem with that, but for $9+ for a burger and combo, it'd better be a thick frozen patty), and the bun was obviously something they bought at the local grocery store - just a run of the mill burger bun, not toasted, not buttered and heated on the black top, nothing.

But you're here for the fries, so maybe that was the saving grace of this blind date? No. Sadly, the fries were cheap frozen crinkle fries that weren't particularly noteworthy at all. Plus, I have to say that a good third of the order were the tiny crunchy, over-cooked ones that hardly have any potato inside. There is no way I should have paid more than $5 for the entire meal.

Sadly, this was not remotely a good experience and I won't ever return there.

Thanks, Terry! If you'd like more of Terry online, check out his regular blog here, his daily year long journey through "Doctor Who" from the very beginning here, and his eBay page here.

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Ray Cornwall said...


Teri Burnham said...

Reply from Owner of Burgers in Paradise:
I appreciate your honesty with your review of our restaurant. Since your visit with us some changes have been made. At the time of your visit we had been open less than one month and with the fast pace of the holiday season it was at least comforting to know that your wait was not to long. We had much to learn as we were new owners and had new employees that also had to learn what we expected of them. Now to address the real issues of your review, our buns are not store bought, but come from a bakery near I-4 that lights up your nose when passing by. The buns are now also toasted on our flat top grill as we have listened to what our customers wanted. Our burgers are not frozen, but fresh ground chuck, and are a quarter pound hand formed. We have made some cooking changes, as the cooks were pressing the meat to flat so as to speed up the cooking process. It now takes approx. 3 minutes for a burger and we prefer it take longer if it means a better burger. But you were really there for the fries, and I do not find your order acceptable. Unfortunately it appears you received the last of a cooking basket as the crinkle cut fries we purchase are yes frozen, but have some of the longest and thickest I have seen. Often I honor a fry with a customer as they have been as long as 6 inches and I feel if it makes it through the whole process it should be singled out. I also invite you to try our sweet potato fries with a dipping sauce of Tanisha or Orange Sauce, or both if you like. We have been told by several returning customers they are very delicious. Again thank you for your review as I will discuss this with all employees so they understand just how important it is to maintain the quality that we wish to provide. I also hope that your decision not to come back is not based on one visit that was during a “break in” period and busy holiday season as we strive for every one of our customers to have a pleasant experience with us.

Janette said...

Wow, I eat there regularly and I love the place. So do my kids who normally get the hot dogs and like that they have Capri Suns there. I usually have the Sweet Potato fries myself.