Between the ages of 3 and 10, my family lived in a place called Weatherford, Oklahoma. It’s a small, windy town off I-40, about an hour west of Oklahoma City. Naturally, we all ate a lot of beef, and much of it in the form of burgers. This was the mid-70s, and Weatherford was just small enough to not have a McDonald’s (in spite of I-40), but we were big enough to have a Sonic, an A&W Drive-In, a Mr. Burger (local chain), and a great diner called Magill’s, on Main Street. It was my favorite place ever, the first eatery I remember loving and wanting to have all to myself. We ate cheeseburgers hot off the griddle, french fries, and thick, dreamy malts. It was the place I made my first “sauce”–mayo & ketchup, mixed. And if I was lucky, I got to sit at the counter.
I still love a counter that makes a good burger. I enjoy the thick, steaklike burgers at Port of Call, and Liuzza’s By the Track has an awesome charcoally one, but I’m a sucker for a joint with a griddle and a counter to prop my elbows on. It feels so right to sit there, swiveling a little on my counter stool, watching the cooks direct patties, buns, fried eggs, and bacon to their proper spots on the grill. A roll of paper towels or an old napkin dispenser is right there for easy access, along with condiments and hopefully a friendly server. That’s the kind of place I love. Camellia Grill knows this by heart and executes it perfectly. The Company Burger does too.
I had no idea Company Burger had a counter. It was just chance that we even went there, because with so many good burger places these days (many of them new establishments), we couldn’t decide. We left it up to fate and drew names.
I’m taking my dad to this place because he’s crazy about an honest, homemade onion ring, and theirs are crispy and slightly sweet. I’m taking my mom to this place because she’s the queen of pimiento cheese, and they make their own in-house. I’m taking myself back there to try the lamb burger and the “cornhog,” a batter-dipped strip of pork belly, like a gussied-up corndog. Interesting tip from the expediter: it’s too rich to base your meal on. So I’ll order one and share. I also want more of those fries, which weren’t just crispy, but toasty. And the bread: good Lord.
The standard “Company Burger” has two patties, but Paul opted for the single with bacon and fried egg. Good going, Paul. It was luscious and groan-worthy, and he managed to eat the whole thing without being overstuffed. I went for the turkey burger–something I’ve never done in a restaurant, ever. Why did I do it? First, I knew I’d get a chance to try the signature burger, thanks to Paul. Second, they made it sound so awesome on the menu: tomato jam, green goddess dressing, and arugula. Seriously, green goddess? Green goddess takes me, in a whoosh and a rush, right back to 1979. I might as well be leaning on my elbows at Magill’s.
Company Burger, you win.