Make Your Own Mess
By Bill Gerdes
I wanted to hate Rounds Premium Burgers from the moment I walked in. I wanted to hate the layout of the place, a third traditional booths, a third stool seating, a third low-style table, most commonly used at the sort of place where you wind up cooking your own food on a hot plate in front of you. The décor struck me as boring––oh wow lazy ceiling fans and a brown and white color scheme like nine other restaurants in Claremont. And I actually did hate the attitude of the girl who served me at the counter––if 19-year old apathy had a face it would be hers. Then I tried their burgers, and I tossed my negativity in the nearest bin along with the 10 napkins I needed to clean up my Devil Burger mess.
Rounds Premium Burgers is one of those “build your own burger joints;” in fact their slogan is “Build your Own Round,” and initially I got annoyed at this as well. Who needs all the pressure? Customers at Rounds get to choose their meat with options including turkey, chicken and veggie. They then move on to a confusing array of free sauce options, from buffalo ranch to pesto mayo, and with a garlic aioli in between. Next up comes free toppings, literally these options are all entitled “free,” and then on to the cheese options which cost seventy-five cents, then an offer of “premium” toppings which cost a buck, then a bun option, including a lettuce wrap choice, all of which is recorded on an order sheet before you get to the counter. By this point reading through the list my wife and I were exhausted and decided to take a burger off the premium menu where fewer decisions were involved.
I ordered the Devil Burger, a fairly massive affair, with four bacon slices protruding out the sides. It looks like a bacon-winged “burger of the gods” and tastes like one too. The patty itself is juicy, perfectly cooked to order—in this case medium rare—and quite scrumptious. Both the breaded jalapenos and buffalo sauce give it a decent kick but don’t overwhelm the flavor of the burger itself. Have no fear if you order and get thirsty though––Rounds sells beer, Hangar 24 at that, plus the normal soda and shakes one finds at any burger shack.
Both sides were pretty damn tasty. The shoestring Garlic Fries are not only smothered in tiny garlic bits but are cooked perfectly. The Sweet Potato Fries are also delicious, served fresh and hot, but they actually taste like sweet potato and not the sugary paste one sees at many chain spots.
And finally I have to say I hate turkey burgers in general––it’s an overrated protein best eaten once a year with Aunt Tillie at Thanksgiving, and whenever I’m looking to skip the red meat I’ll do a veggie burger. It’s the dry nature of turkey that is a turn-off, but the turkey version of the California Burger is juicy and quite nice. It too is a bacon-winged monstrosity, and features something they call “avocado smush,” which I think is probably just smashed avocado. The buns are a tad greasy though. It’s one of the better burger options around that doesn’t involve white napkins and 12 bucks.
Rounds Premium Burgers 885 S. Indian Hill Ave, Claremont, (909) 626-2626; www.roundsburgers.com. AE, D, MC, V.