Review: Terry’s Turf Club

There are few things that are more satisfying to me than a burger and fries. I love a good, high-end meal, but sometimes you just want a juicy burger and crispy fries, and nothing else will do. A burger and fries also seems like an easy meal, but it’s rare that you can find a place that does a good burger as well as good fries– you often get a great burger with mediocre fries, or vice-versa. Laura Landoll, the sommelier responsible for the last Midwest Wine Dinner, had recommended– enthusiastically and without reservation– a burger joint on Eastern Avenue. She compiled their wine list, and said that they were the best burger in Cincinnati. On Saturday, I remembered that recommendation when Terry declared that he wanted a burger, and we headed down Eastern Avenue to check it out for ourselves.

Terry’s Turf Club is owned by Neon’s former owner, Terry Carter, and the collection of neon signs pays homage to his old stomping ground. From the outside, it looks like any other dive that caters to locals, and inside, with its pub tables, neon signs (the Wiedemann signs brought back memories, for sure), bowling machine and peanut shell covered floor made the place feel homey, welcoming, and friendly.

The menu is small and specialized: Sandwiches, Fries, and Gelato. That’s it. Though they have a filet mignon sandwich, grilled cod and chicken, portabellas, shiitakes, and a shrimp sandwich, what drives people in are the burgers. They are classic– ground beef, seasoning, and your choice of toppings. Terry (the boyfriend, not the owner) ordered a simple burger with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion, mayo and mustard, all on a bun from Shadeau bakery. I got a little “daring” and went with one of the specialty sauces– burgundy wine with wild mushrooms and truffles– as well as some grilled onions and Swiss cheese. The burger was well-done (we were not given a choice, and I prefer mine medium, but this was not well-done into oblivion: it was surprisingly juicy), and in combination with the sauce, a sloppy mess. I’m not sure I picked up any truffle in the sauce; perhaps I would have had I not had all of the other flavors going on in my burger, but the sauce was rich with earthy mushrooms and red wine. I could have topped my burger with foie gras or goat cheese, or any number of other sauces ranging from roasted garlic peanut sauce to curried mango sauce– I’ll try one of those next time.

The fries were good– not the best I’ve had (I like mine much crispier and saltier) but I give them credit for being homemade, fresh, and skin-on. So many places serve mediocre frozen fries, and these were a step or two above frozen. The drinks were good as well– I had a cosmopolitan (eschewing wine that night) and Terry had some Sam Adams Summer Ale. We both walked away full (far too full for even gelato), and we’ll definitely be back.

Are these the best burgers in Cincinnati? I definitely liked it better than Zip’s, whose burgers can tend to be a little bland. Any other must-try burger suggestions? I’m always on the lookout for the best burger, and Terry’s is definitely in the running.

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