Jeff was a natural. His customers loved him, and he love them. He could tell you how each of his regulars liked their burgers and what kind of toys their kids liked to play with, He was a little arrogant, but that arrogance was just enough to make him take pride in the quality of his ingredients and their exacting preparation. That arrogance drove him to get his meat fresh ground and buy his tomatoes vine ripened. His was one of the few establishments where I would risk buying a rare burger (or eat a tomato). I knew the meat would be fresh and the patty cooked to that elusive fine line that lies between raw and over cooked. The burgers would come charred on the outside. but bright red and just slightly warmed in the center, yet with juices that ran clear. in a word, prefect. I think the challenge of making a perfectly rare burger to my impossibly high standards excited him, he would smile whenever I placed my order . When I would express my amazement at his consistently exacting skills, he would sort of snicker, like saying "what did you expect?",
Like I said, he was a natural. Over the years, we probably spent hours discussing the finer points of making a rare burger. I remember one time I ordered a rare burger to go (to begin with, he didn't like selling rare burgers "to-go"). I told him I needed to run next door to the pet store to get some things. He told me (very sternly) that he did not like customers who ordered rare burgers to leave the premises while the meat was cooking, and that if I was late returning, he was in no way responsible for my burger being past rare. I promised him that I would not be late, which of course I was (by about 2 minutes), He explained to me how the meat continued to cook even after it was removed form the grill, In fact, with rare burgers to-go, he carefully calculated the time the drive home would take. and adjusted the cook time to compensate for the the time the meat would spend in a styrofoam container (in which he carefully punched holes so the bread and fries would not get soggy). Of course, the burger, though very slightly better done than usual, was still awesome. Still, I felt his disappointment in me, and never did it again. He took his product very seriously. He even taught me that when ordering a rare burger to go, I should ask for the PATTY on the side, so the bread did not get mushy and the toppings did not get warm. In all my years of eating rare burgers, doing so had never crossed my mind. His menu was simple, but he personally had the preparation of every single item down with scientific precision. This made Cross Rhodes, if not the best, certainly the most consistently good establishment in its class. What is funny, is despite his exacting standards and persnickety ways, you could tell that his employees absolutely adored working for him. Again, he was a true natural. He will be missed,
When the place reopens. I will have to get a rare burger on rye with feta cheese, lemon greek potato wedges and a glass of Retsina (the perfect foil for the juicy greasiness of a rare hamburger). I know that even though he is gone, his standard of perfection will carry-on.
Hid epitaph should mention that he was " one of the few guys in history that could cook a perfectly rare hamburger".
edited for spelling and grammar
Last edited by d4v3 on Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.