In Charlotte, there are things that our culinary scene lacks. An abundance of good Korean food and ramen joints, for example. What we don’t lack is a hunk of ground beef slapped between two buns. Burgers. The Queen City has as many burger joints as there are stars in the sky. Actually, we probably have more than that.
Every time I turn a corner, a new burger spot opens with the latest iteration of grassfed beef, artisan toppings or new and improved bun technology. I made that last one up, but you get my drift. When the market is soaked through with choices, it’s easy to forget about the old guard, places that serve a burger that’s just plain good — which is why I want to talk about the hamburger at Fenwick’s.
The tiny family-owned structure on Providence bearing a neon sign of its namesake has been serving the well-to-do neighborhood of Myers Park since 1984 and still manages to fill seats. Heck, I even had to wait for a table.
Going into Fenwick’s is like riding in the dining car of a time traveling train. The small bar is outfitted with diner seating that overlooks the matchbox kitchen, and stiff wooden booths line both sides of a tiny aisle that needs maneuvering to accommodate more than one person at a time.
The menu boasts old-school items like London Broil and grilled salmon — things to satisfy the stodgy older set that keeps the place in business. But order the burger. At Fenwick’s, there is no menu-sized list of toppings or wildly off-the-wall options for your burger. They keep it simple with a small list of classic choices: American cheese, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, blue cheese crumbles and jalapeno pimento cheese, just to keep it Southern.
I went for the black and blue burger ($10.95 plus $1 for added cheese). An eight-ounce hand-shaped patty seasoned with blackening spices and topped with blue cheese crumbles. The burger arrives open faced on a toasted sesame seed bun topped with blue cheese crumbles and accompanied with a singular frill of greenleaf lettuce, red onion and tomato slices. After slathering on a few condiments and affixing the buns, one bite reveals a perfectly medium rare center with all the fixin’s working in harmony. It’s nothing fancy or revolutionary, but it was damn good.
A glance to my right at the family seated across the aisle revealed four happy customers biting into burgers of their own. If there was any question whether the burger at Fenwick’s has still got it, I think I got my answer.
Got a favorite dish in Charlotte? Share it me at firstname.lastname@example.org.