For as much as I rave about Wegman’s and their bakery you’d think I’d be a regular when it comes to purchasing hot foods in the veritable food court of the Columbia store.
I’m not. Actually, I’ve only sampled from their wokery hot food bar once, loading up on a cloying combination of tofu, vegetables and peanuts in some asian sauce. That’s not to say I haven’t made the rounds around the store though. But they just never seem to be selling the kind of pizza I really crave, or the price just isn’t right or heck, or I’m just stuffed from one to many rolls and trips to the Coke Freestyle machine.
Last Friday was different though. I had been on the phone most of the day with one of the designers for this magnificent work of naval reference and had managed to get through the morning and most of the afternoon on nothing but coffee, oatmeal and protein powder. I was famished by the time four came around, and mostly I just wanted to taste something.
I stopped off at Wegman’s coming home from work. Wegman’s Food Bar offers a $6 Meal Deal with various options, including their 1/4-lb Hometown Burger, a side, and a small drink. I feel like an idiot for not asking if the burgers come cook to order, but in any case, mine came out done. Not “grilled to a hockey puck well done”, but there wasn’t any pink inside. I also got the green beans on the side, mostly because of those flashing lights of “Truffle Oil.”
The Burger — with American cheese — was good. Not quite In-N-Out good, but the meat had a really good crust from the sear, and the guy working the griddle did a great job of melting the cheese, which oozed a gooey, fatty layer. I asked for tomatoes and lettuce to be added and they didn’t charge me extra – which I like – but they left also left off the pickles and hot sauce the burger is supposed to come with.
Wegman’s advertises their beef as “irradiated.” Apparently it’s just a fancy way to ensure bacteria get killed off so the meat can be cooked to order. I don’t know if it made the burger taste any better, but there was something more, gosh, ‘natural’ tasting about the meat. At first I thought it may not be seasoned as enough, but after tearing a few crusty pieces off I realized the meaty, sweet backtones had adequate salt and pepper. Like I said, I liked it fine, although a little too densly packed for my tastes.
I wasn’t crazy about the bun. It wasn’t toasted and seemed like the kind of bulk enriched bun they sell for 1.25 in eight-packs for backyard cookouts. Knowing Wegman’s bakery, I really expected better, even for “just” the 1/4-lb burger (they also have a 1/2-lb burger.) At the very least, throw me a pre-packaged potato bun.
The green beans tasted like green beans. They didn’t taste special — actually, I barely noticed they were seasoned. I had to add salt to them and I didn’t pick up any truffle flavor, even though they did have an oily sheen. I would have guessed they had a drizzle of plain canola oil if they hadn’t been advertised with Truffle Oil.
I didn’t get the meal because I wanted a side, but rather because I was a craving a refillable soda for while I was shopping. I’m a diet soda drinker through and through, so the Coke Freestyle machine is kind of a big deal. A few fills of Coke Zero Vanilla are always in order, but I also like the Freestyle because you can essentially get the same soda with Caffiene Free Diet Coke (Vanilla) and also Mr. Pibb and Barq’s, both of which are seriously underrated soda’s with bite.
At 6 bucks the burger “meal deal” is not a bad value for a light dinner, especially if you put a premium on the Coke Freestyle machine, which I do. While the green beans were a big disappointment and the burger, as a sum of its part, could have been stronger, Wegman’s reputation for high quality beef and freshness definitely is followed through at their food bar, making a return trip — possibly for some sweet potato fries and a unique Veggie Burger — a real possibility.