Ba Le and Cheeburger Cheeburger break the chain mentality.

Fast food ain't necessarily bad food.

It was this second burger that revealed my only real complaint with these burgers. Cheeburger Cheeburger uses ground Black Angus beef. This is fine — better than fine, considering most places won't tell you what kind of beef you're getting, let alone give you good beef. That said, it's a shame you can't order burgers cooked medium-rare at Cheeburger Cheeburger, because a little more beefy, bloody flavor would have taken these up a notch. The rye bread on which the patty melt was served was so strongly flavored that the burger had a hard time competing with it.

Cheeburger Cheeburger boasts more than 60 locations in 18 states. At first glance it seems like one of those chains we restaurant critics can't wait to savage. It's a faux diner, with shakes and egg creams and oldies playing on the speakers. Worse, it's a faux diner that "borrows" the famous Saturday Night Live "Cheezborger Cheezborger" shtick. (A sign on the wall even bears the "No Coke, Pepsi" punch line.)

In fact, when Cheeburger Cheeburger attempted to expand into the Chicago area, the restaurant that inspired the SNL skit sued. The tiff was soon settled: Cheeburger Cheeburger kept its name, but it can't open anywhere near Chicago. (Cheeburger Cheeburger obviously values this name highly. The brand is everywhere: T-shirts for sale, signs on the wall, a bag of its proprietary onion-ring batter on every table.)

Ba Le employee Tuyen Kieu serves a freshly made banh 
mi.
Jennifer Silverberg
Ba Le employee Tuyen Kieu serves a freshly made banh mi.

Location Info

Map

Cheeburger Cheeburger - Chesterfield

I-64 & Clarkson Road
Chesterfield, MO 63017

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Chesterfield

Details

Ba Le
3515 South Kingshighway Boulevard, 314-352-8400. Hours: 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.

banh mi $2.75
Roast chicken banh mi $3.00
Spring rolls (three) $3.75

Cheeburger Cheeburger
I-64 & Clarkson Road (in Westfield Shoppingtown Chesterfield);

Small fries $2.19
"The Serious" $6.99
"The Serious" with bacon $7.98
Patty melt $7.99

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Despite the branding, Cheeburger Cheeburger doesn't overdo the diner motif — and the help stays away from turning the place into a comedy routine. When I ordered Coke, the waiter gamely asked if Pepsi was OK. Aside from salads and a few chicken sandwiches, the restaurant sticks to what it does best: burgers, fries and onion rings. The fries are freshly cut and served a crisp, coppery brown. The onion rings are excellent, thinly sliced and lightly battered. The only disappointment was the much-too-thin dreamsicle shake I tried.

Make that two disappointments. Near the bulletin board honoring those who vanquished "The Full Pounder" is a board celebrating kids twelve and under who were able to eat a half-pound burger. Here we find chains — and American dining in general — at their worst: celebrating the supersized, encouraging kids to gorge.

The good news is that, when I visited, there were far fewer pictures of kids than of adults.

The bad news is that the kids' bulletin board already had a section set aside for "Repeat Offenders."

Have a suggestion for a restaurant the Riverfront Times should review? E-mail ian.froeb@riverfronttimes.com.

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