Blazes Burgers has achieved the perfect balancing act in an otherwise wildly-unbalanced burger scene.
Burgers are everywhere these days, and the price and quality varies astonishingly. You can get a thin, flat patty for a buck at a drive-through window, a slightly better version at a diner for a little more, or a mouth-watering 6-inch-high Angus beef creation for about $12 at the finer restaurant of your choice. On that last one, toppings like shaved truffles are extra.
But at Blazes Burgers, opened in April, the cheeseburger I had recently was as big, thick and juicy as many so-called gourmet burgers. But it was only $5.29. It was a nice pink color inside and came on a fluffy bun that was buttered and toasted. For my free toppings, I picked grilled green peppers and onions, which were diced and added mild flavors.
Make no mistake, Blazes Burgers is not trying to be fancy. The menu is very simple and consists mostly of burgers, chicken (fingers or sandwich), hot dogs, grilled cheese and BLTs. The sides are French fries, tater tots, mozzarella sticks and onion rings. The eatery’s Facebook page says it is now serving lobster rolls as well. Dessert can be purchased at the attached Parkside Ice Cream, with a counter just off the dining room of Blazes Burgers.
The place is in a storefront across from Riverbank Park on Main Street that has housed several other eateries, including Fisherman’s Grill. The inside is casual, but nicely renovated with bright yellow seats and plenty of tables. There are also picnic tables on the patio out front, with views of the park.
It’s a local, family place, and the name is a play on the Westbrook High School’s team names: the Blue Blazes.
I went to Blazes on a Saturday evening with my family, while hundreds of people gathered in the park for the Westbrook Together Days. Even though the restaurant was fairly busy, we got our order – four burgers, fries and onion rings – in about five to 10 minutes. We sat outside on a picnic table, and the friendly staff brought us our order when it was ready. The food was all served in paper boxes – better for the environment and easier for carting home leftovers than a bag or foil wrappers. The onion rings were golden and crispy, as were the fries, still with some skin on them. The fries, for $1.99, were pretty big. We got two orders for four people but could have done with just one, especially since the burgers were so filling.
Besides grilled or raw onions and peppers, the free burger toppings include mushrooms (grilled or raw), lettuce, tomato, pickles and jalapeño peppers. You can get bacon or extra cheese for 99 cents. You can even add cheese, bacon or ground-up hamburger to your order of fries, tots or onion rings for 99 cents per topping.
Parkside Ice Cream has about 30 flavors and all manners of treats. I got a blueberry shake for $4.75. It was pretty thick, so I was surprised when I saw on the menu board I could have ordered “extra thick” for $5.75.
But next time I go, I may skip dessert and spend the money on one of the extra thick burgers, to go.
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
WHERE: 652 Main St., Westbrook; 591-0331; on Facebook
WAIT: About five to 10 minutes
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes