Jake’s Wayback Burger (East Meadow, NY) – This is going to be a rough one. We had been planning on going to Jake’s Wayback burger for a while now, but others kept sneaking in front of it in line. Maybe the universe was trying to look out for us? The place is nestled into a shopping center on Hempstead Turnpike, and is relatively unassuming. They make the claim of having the “best burger under the bun”. Claiming you are the best at something automatically raises expectations, and like most “best” places, Jake’s Wayback fell a bit short for everyone. Check out the podcast for some more in-depth discussion and thoughts!
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The shake was first to come out and there were some ice chunks in there. The service was pretty standard – order at the counter and they bring you your food. The ambiance in here is a bit weird, the lighting is kind of dim – but it’s definitely not meant to be mood lighting. After ordering my food, I immediately noticed that it smelled kind of off inside the restaurant. After some deliberation with the rest of the crew, we determined it’s the smell of old grease! Yes, old grease! It smelled like the fryer desperately needed some fresh oil and the flat top was begging for a thorough scrape down. Worst part about it is that the taste of the old oil definitely carried over to my onion rings. In the picture below, note the half green tomato. What I wouldn’t do for some Shake Shack tomatoes right about now.
The burger didn’t look bad, but it left a lot to be desired. With an open kitchen that everyone can see, we noticed that they do the smash on the grill technique. This is by far our favorite way to eat a burger. The smashing of the burger ensures complete contact with the hot griddle. The sear that occurs browns the outside of the meat, forming a desirable crust that keeps moisture and flavor inside the patty. While the burgers appeared to be smashed, they didn’t have any of that great texture or juiciness that comes with a smashed burger. Jake’s Wayback burgers tasted mostly like Steak-Umms. If you haven’t had Steak-Umms before, they’re pretty much the cheapest and greasiest slices of frozen “meat” you can get. While totally fine for a half-assed cheese steak at home, the flavor is unacceptable for a burger.
You can see that the burger leaves a ton of grease on the bottom bun. Three of us were left with a nearly transparent bottom bun (not even kidding) by the end of the meal. The burger itself was crumbly in texture, and fell short for everyone. With the greasy burgers (and not in a good way), chunks of ice in the shake, mediocre fries, terrible onion rings (I threw more than half of them out – grease bombs full of dirty fryer taste), and odorous dining area, Jake’s Wayback sits pretty close to the bottom on all of our lists.
Under my burger you’ll see some “special sauce”. Overall consensus is that it was pretty much brown mustard that’s been messed with. It was tangy and smelled like pennies. I wasn’t really feeling the sauce with onion rings or fries. J was the only one to get the cheese fries. He enjoyed them, but when the cheese ran out and the bottom layers of fries were reached, he quickly lost interest.
Jake’s Wayback is pretty close to the bottom on all of the Burger Hierarchy rankings. While it’s possible they were having an off day, none of us agreed that we would go back and give it another try. Check out the rankings, and listen to the podcast for the heated discussion.
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