2008 Fall Dining Guide By Tom Sietsema Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008
There's still no sign out front. But fans of the most publicly dissected hamburger around know exactly where to go to get their fix: this Arlington storefront with not much more than some B horror film posters and a bunch of wooden tables to dress it. Michael Landrum, the owner of Ray's the Steaks in the same block and Ray's the Classics in Silver Spring, distinguishes his new place from the pack with a 10-ounce whopper of a sandwich built from freshly ground, hand-trimmed beef and his usual generosity: Sides of watermelon and corn on the cob are built into even the basic $6.95 hamburger, and a number of toppings -- mushrooms, peppers -- are free. A guy can spend upwards of $17.50 on the signature attraction, but choices such as "The Burger of Seville," which packs in foie gras, bordelaise sauce and (chef, you must be joking!) white truffle oil, have nothing on the simpler models. Customers place their orders at a counter overlooking the big grill, then listen for their names to be called. The strongest brew available is root beer, but it's great, and while you might wish for french fries, Hell-Burger recently began offering sides of chunky potato salad and creamy coleslaw. The downside? We appreciate the fact that it's toasted, but the brioche bun tends to fall apart under the weight and juice of the hamburger. Otherwise, Landrum has thought of everything. Next to the condiments on your table is a big roll of paper towels.
When this place opened, the burgers were just spectacular. I talked to the manager who told me they got scrapes from "Rays the Steaks" and ground them to make burgers. The best I ever had.
But a year or so back, they went to two sizes of buger and about that time the meat in the burgers took a definite downturn. I don't know what happened, but the burgers are not nearly as good as they once were.
and they are more expensive
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