Burgers, Bombers and Breakfast
“I was always going to open a diner,” begins Jason Beam of the Roadhouse. “I’ve been building menu ideas for 10 years.” He and his wife Tara recently quit their day jobs, (he in advertising, she in nursing) to follow their food dreams. Now they’re cranking out quirky twists on American classics five days a week.
It can be tough to get a spot in the modest lot, but there’s most always a seat open inside where you’ll find an old school diner with rockabilly roots.
The building itself is something of an oddity, an old log cabin, built rakishly askew with a sloping ceiling that almost transforms the dining room into an optical illusion (albeit a charmingly cozy one).
The walls are covered in kitsch, all flying pigs, metalwork and flames with a rogue’s gallery of burger posters celebrating some of their favorite creations.
The food is more about bold, playful flavors than technical mastery, made by people clearly having fun. It’s the opposite of uppity. “The cornerstones of this place, the burgers and the fries, are all ground and cut in-house,” says Jason. “It’s a labor of love,” Tara adds.
They source ingredients locally as much as possible, and use whole beef shoulder for their burger, grinding it to about an 80/20 blend, always avoiding anything frozen. “You can taste a fresh burger,” says Jason. And fresh burgers are their specialty.
Two hand-ground beef patties topped with melty American cheese, crisp pickles sliced thick and just the right amount of onion make the Roadhouse Burger everything you want in your classic diner experience. From the tangy snap of the pickle to the buttery soft bun, each ingredient adds something distinct, simple and essential.
The fries, hand-cut thin, come hot, salty and extra crispy, balancing out the big, juicy burger. “You have to fry them twice to make them good,” says Tara.
Though the Roadhouse is their signature burger, Tara secretly hopes you don’t order it. She’d rather challenge you with something more adventurous, something more memorable. Maybe something with jalapenos, serranos and ghost pepper sauce (The Widowmaker). Or maybe a burger with bacon, sharp cheddar, peanut butter and jelly (The PB & J).
But as good as the burgers are, breakfast might be even better.
Stuffed with scrambled eggs, homefries and either ham, sausage or bacon, the Breakfast Bomber dominates the early-morning menu. It’s big, bold and delicious, making lesser burritos quiver before it’s two-fisted majesty.
For regulars in the know, there are a few secret off-menu variations. A Bomber with all three meats is called a B-52 (cause it might lay you out), and if you add gravy it becomes a Titanic (in case you get that sinking feeling). And if you need a few more veggies in your life, the Athenian is a Greek-style scramble with spinach, onion and tomato, dusted with dill and featuring the savory housemade sausage.
Always innovating, the special is never yesterday’s leftovers but simply a fresh creation to give people a reason to keep coming back for more.
When you’re ready for a meal to talk about, go see Tara, she’ll take care of you. As she likes to say, “If you’re going to eat all those calories, you better make them good.”GRINDHOUSE DINER
Jason and Tara love to experiment and are all about keeping things fun and fresh. “Part of the beauty of food is that it’s artistic,” offers Tara. “We want to incorporate the five senses.”So as the October evenings grow ever longer, the menu at the diner grows ever darker, transforming from the Roadhouse to the Grindhouse. Come by around Halloween to catch some costumes as well as some limited time offerings.
Perhaps something oozing bloodcurdling bbq will make it onto your plate. Or you might try the White Zombie, a fresh ground patty covered with a six pepper rub, pepperjack cheese, bacon and black squid ink ranch. “It’s like your brain can’t connect that it’s ranch dressing because it’s black,” says Jason, but your taste buds will figure it out. Served with glowing green fries, of course. Get them while you can, once they’re gone, they’re gone. Unless they rise again…