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The Real Deal: Classic Burgers & Shakes – Portage

June 4, 2010

  • 3774 W. Centre Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49024
  • (269) 321-8380
  • Website
  • Menu

A few weeks ago, I saw a job posting for a new burger joint.  I sort of glanced over and forgot about it.  Last night, one of my Twitter friends asked me if I knew anything about it.  Apparently, the place just opened.  I hadn’t but planned on checking it out ASAP.  He beat me to it and put a review on Urbanspoon that made me want to try the place out even more.

The Real Deal:  Classic Burgers & Shakes is the newest foray into my favorite foodstuff in the Kalamazoo area.  They just opened two stores this past week.  One is in Campus Pointe near WMU.  The other, and the one I chose to go to today, is in the Woodbridge Shopping Village on Centre Avenue near US-131 in Portage.

Word of mouth travels fast.  I showed up at the tiny store that used to be the Spicy Pickle on Portage’s West Side around 1:00.  There were a number of people enjoying burgers both outside at a few metal tables and inside.

When you walk through the door, you’re immediately met by a wall with a large menu board.  This is key because the space is so cramped that there isn’t a whole lot of room at the order counter.  If you need to look over the menu, this is actually a good place to do it because you’re not in anyone’s way. 

The order counter is around the corner and there’s only enough space for one person between the counter and the closest table.  There’s not a big area to que up.  If the place is packed, you will be putting your backside in someone’s food while you’re waiting.  There was a small line while I was there and it made me a little uncomfortable.  I was looking around trying to make sure I wasn’t getting in someone else’s personal space while I was waiting to put my order in.

The kitchen is right behind the order counter, so you can see everything going on while you’re waiting.  The whole place gave off the feel of a Five Guys Burgers & Fries.  The concept is pretty similar.  The menu, like Five Guys, is very small focusing on only burgers, fries, shakes, and hot dogs.

Ordering isn’t very tough because you don’t have a ton of choice.  You order your burger, select toppings then decide if and how you want your fries.

I ordered the Classic Burger with cheese and bacon (both of which are extra charges) and an order of Classic Fries.  With the burger, you have the option to add a bunch of toppings at no cost, but there was nothing I really wanted.  The two things I like on my burger weren’t included with the free part so I ponied up the extra $1.50.  With the fries, I kept it simple although they do have options for Coney style fries and cheese fries.  I passed on the drink because they have Coke products and I knew I was making another stop after lunch where I could get a Pepsi.  My total for the burger and fries was $9.  It seems like a lot without a drink, so I was really hoping the burger would measure up.

I took a seat in the dining room away from the counter.  The place has a pretty unique feel to it.  It’s dimly lit and painted dark colors.  The tables are stainless steel tops and there are a couple LCD TV’s  hanging in the corners tuned to ESPN.

After a few minutes, the lady who took my order came over with a tray of food.  The burger is wrapped in brown wax paper and the fries come in a paper boat.  I dug into the fries first just because they were sitting out there in the open.  They’re fresh, hand cut fries that come with a seasoned salt.  The other review I saw on The Real Deal described the fries as being crispy.  That wasn’t the case with mine.  They weren’t soggy, but they didn’t have that crunch either.  They were still delicious and just how I like them.  The Classic size was the perfect single serving size and went a long way to make sure I didn’t leave hungry.

The burger came out much bigger than I expected.  A big reason is that it came with two patties.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I saw the meat on the grill as I was ordering and started forming an opinion.  The patties looked small, but when you stack two on the bun, it actually makes for a pretty good size burger.

The meat itself was crumbly, juicy and perfectly cooked.  I actually really liked the bread it was served on.  It was denser than the classic white bun which added another texture layer to the burger.  The bun was slightly grilled and held up well to the juice the burger was leaking.

I really liked The Real Deal.  I thought the food was fantastic and I can’t wait to go back.  The prices still seem high to me.  To get a full meal, you’re going to pay over ten bucks.  I don’t expect them to give food away, but I barely spend $10 on a meal when I go to a full service restaurant.  I would be happier if I got a drink for the $9.  It works for some.  I hope it works out for them.  The only bad thing is their limited menu.  My wife doesn’t eat burgers so it’s not a place her and I could go together.  It’s a place that will be saved for days like today when I’m on my own for lunch.

For a guy like me who really likes burgers, The Real Deal is a welcome addition.  I really like and respect places that want to make the food right, not just quick.

Classic Fries

Classic Burger w/Cheese & Bacon

The Real Deal: Classic Burgers & Shakes on Urbanspoon

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    June 5, 2010 8:55 am

    Ate here last night after discovering they were open via this blog (we’d been waiting for the one by campus) and had a fantastic meal. I’d been craving 5 Guys since eating there in Clearwater and this place has a very similar menu and really hit the spot – and it’s local! I had the classic with cheese and my wife had a jr. (although it looked the same size as mine – may have been a mistake) with bacon, cheese grilled onion and bbq sauce. The bacon and bbq lent a very nice smokiness and moisture to the burger — really good if you like smoke flavor. Fries were great as well. We’ll be back.

    I know you’re a “meat and potato’s” guy but a couple suggestions:

    Aries london grill downtown– great beer selection and the fish and chips is outstanding, also try the guiness beef and sticky toffey pudding for dessert.

    Shawarma King on Drake has an awesome chicken shawarma sandwich (grilled chicken with pickles and garlic sauce rolled in a pita — what’s not to like?) and it’s dirt cheap.

    Los Amigo’s mexican on Romence has really good authentic mexican (although growing up in East Lansing El Az will always have a place in my heart.

    Phoenix Cafe in South Haven serves a mean breakfast and their meatloaf sandwich is awesome.

    Happy eating!

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