Some time ago, my first experience with WB was as a carryout dinner for myself and two friends. You have to understand the experience was dashed--in part--because that evening, fries were really what I was craving. As in PMS craving. You know how that goes. The world would END if I did not have fry satisfaction. (Probably not a good time to try something new, I realize.)
My first encounter with WB was disappointing. The fries that evening were hard, cooked to dehydrated, dark and almost burnt. I'd commented as such online elsewhere. Soon thereafter, I received a pleasant response from the management that said, in short, "That's the way we like 'em." Can't fault a place for standing by their vision of what something should be, even though I could hardly believe they'd CHOOSE to serve what I was given. The buns had also been hard, dry and chewy, and seemed to outweigh the rest of the burgers. As a result, I was NOT impressed, and wondered what the buzz was about.
That was six months ago, and I hadn't gone back. Given that I eat out almost daily, there are few places I don't hit in a six month period! Now you might be thinking, "Geez, what a hard-ass -- one thing off and you write off a place for good?"
Well, that's the lesson for restauranteurs... yes, that's EXACTLY what happens sometimes, especially in competitive markets. It's got to be right, for every customer, every time. It's what we are coming to you for. If I wanted unpredictable and possibly crappy food... I'd eat in my own kitchen. :)
As time went on, a nagging thought sat in my skull: if all these people with opinions I usually trusted raved... what was I missing? Giving it another go was on the mental to do list. With the come of Groupon, the WB offer of a $14 value for only a $7 cost couldn't be denied. With Scot, my trusty partner, in tow I returned to WB this weekend.
First thing's first: The fries served to me at my first visit (all THREE orders of them) appear to NOT be the norm. During a busy lunch I watched tens of baskets come by me with fries, and not a one looked as desiccated and dark as what I was served.
If only I'd known that! Now I'm sad I've missed six months of enjoying this place! We sampled a number of things: tots, onion rings, a BBQ Burger and the Border Burger. All were fabulous. The buns were much better: fresh and substantial, yet soft, flavorful and easy to eat. While my burger came looking like an insurmountable tower, putting the opened-palmed-power-press on it reduced it to a height that could, with work, be eaten by hand.
The tots are unique, and oh-so-good with the horseradish dipping sauce. Fluffy and peppery, they are crunchy on the outside and pure potato goodness on the inside. These are NOT your usual tots.
The star of the show, however, were the onion rings. By far the best we've EVER had. EVER. Anywhere. Medium-large slices of tender sweet onions are hugged in a crisp coating that somehow does not come apart from the onion as you eat it. Each bite is an excellent balance of onion and breading. The fry sauce goes very well with those, but there's always just plain old ketchup, which I preferred.
Our burgers were fantastic, each piled high with fresh, flavorful ingredients. They were total opposites; the BBQ Burger was a dark, thick and heavy onslaught of flavor (bbq sauce, beef, bacon, cheddar) while the Border Burger was fresh and light with the tasty pico. In both, the quality of the beef, superior in texture and taste to what you find elsewhere, stood out.
The service was friendly and helpful, and the patrons inside the cozy eatery all seemed... happier... than your average person on any given day. A very nice vibe!
So a few lessons, for both sides of the counter. Eatery staff, make sure it's up to your own high standards each and every time, or you might lose people. And don't be afraid to try something again, customers, if you have a bad experience but others experience something different on a routine basis!