I guess Gordo’s is the latter half of 2008’s Terry’s Turf Club (TTC). My boyfriend, Terry, and I wanted to do a low-end dinner before we traveled this week and wanted to get something we couldn’t get where we were going, so I suggested Gordo’s.
Gordo’s is the creation of Raymond Gordo, Jean Robert de Cavel’s former sous chef. He branched out on his own with a menu of bar food, burgers and a few entrees. They’re known for their burgers, one of which was a recipe “given” to Gordo by JR himself.
We wandered into Norwood on Saturday around 8 p.m. and expected a TTC-like crowd, but instead we saw a couple of apparent regulars at the bar and a few tables with a range of ages represented: some college-aged, some middle-aged, some older. It was a great, varied crowd.
First thing that impressed me? They had my favorite hard-to-find alcoholic beverage, Strongbow. It wasn’t on tap (it would have become my favorite bar in Cincinnati if they did!), but they did have it in cans, which is just about as good. Yum.
Second thing that impressed me? Goat cheese. Yeah, I know, TTC spoiled me for all burgers without goat cheese, but I was so darn happy that the Jean Robert burger included goat cheese that I ordered it. Not just goat cheese, but blue cheese and onion compote, bacon, mayonnaise, grape compote and lettuce.
Terry went with the Hawaiian burger, which had roasted pineapple, barbecue sauce, cheese, tomato, onion and lettuce.
So, what did we think?
It’s not Terry’s Turf Club.
There. I said it. Gordo’s is good, but it didn’t blow me away the way I thought it would. The buns are fresh (great!), the meat is fresh (really good!), and the flavors are complex and a little different than your average burger joint, but the burgers are practically impossible to eat, which takes away from the experience. The bun had disintegrated before I finished half of the burger, and Terry had the same problem. The thick (I mean, super-thick) burger is a thickness that I think works better on a mini-burger (which is how I have had Jean-Robert’s burger before), so I think I would prefer either a larger bun or a slightly thinner burger. I’m OK with messy, I just don’t like a burger that I can barely manage to eat.
I was disappointed by the fries. Perhaps it’s because I walked in knowing who ran Gordo’s, and I expected frites, not frozen steak fries. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t what I expected, and I think that disappointed me even more than another restaurant might have.
The service was good — average local bar service, attentive but not clingy, and very casual. The prices were great — two Coronas for Terry, a Strongbow and two burgers with fries for $23.00.
Would I go back? Absolutely. Where does it place as far as Cincinnati burgers? Terry says No. 2, and I think I can agree, if only because I can’t think of who else I would put in second place. I’d like to try the Gordo burger next — Poblanos and Boursin. They also have a black bean burger for you vegetarians out there — and I’m sure you could get the burger prepared like some of the “specialty” burgers if you asked.
Photos: Courtesy of Julie Niesen