This is the beginning of an epic series — eating through the burgers of Menlo Park. We’re starting at The Dutch Goose, west Menlo Park’s famous beer and burger joint which opened in 1966.
Just the Facts: The hamburger at Dutch Goose is a “1/4 lb. burger served on a fresh-baked sesame seed bun topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and goop,” which costs $5.82. If you want a cheeseburger (I did), you’re going to shell out $6.19. Both come in a basket with house-made potato chips.
The Bun: Starting from the bottom of the burger and heading to the top, one finds a toasted sesame seed bun that is airy and light. The Dutch Goose gets all of its bread — whether buns, rolls, or slices — from Le Boulanger.
The Goop: The bottom bun is slathered with a secret mixture that tastes like mayo with a hint of relish, which they call “goop”. The smooth, pickley spread is the first thing you taste.
The Onions: Coarsely cut white onions add a mildly sharp bite and cellulose-based crunch.
The Lettuce and Tomato: Nothing special — no butter lettuce or organic heirloom tomatoes here — but nonetheless essential for a complete burger.
The Patty: The Goose throws everything on the griddle. During peak times, the griddle is covered with sizzling burgers and toasting breads. Its all-beef patties are supplied by employee-owned Richwood Meat Co. in Merced, CA. There is no “pink slime” in these burgers. The patties are nicely charred despite having been cooked on a flat griddle rather than a grill.
The Cheese: The cheeseburger comes standard with American cheese, which brings to mind the Kraft singles I used to sneak out of my grandma’s fridge. I had mine with Swiss; the Goose also offers Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Mozzarella and Cheddar.
The Chips: The Dutch Goose has historically featured chips with its burgers. That once meant a half-ounce bag of Lays. Within the past couple years the Goose dumped the yellow plastic bags for in-house chips. Deep-fried, thick-cut, skin-on potato chips are tough to beat. Each one has a hard fried shell that leads to a satisfying crunch.
The Fries: For most of its history, the Goose didn’t offer fries. That changed when current owner Greg Stern took over and added a deep fryer. The fries are thin cut and extraordinarily crispy. A little salt and pepper is all the Goose uses to make them so addictive. $3.97 is a small price to part for fries that you can share with your friends.
Insider’s Treat: The Goose is also famous for its spicy deviled eggs offered at $1.48.
The Atmosphere: The Dutch Goose takes pride in the fact that the walls and tables are tattooed with carvings and graffiti. Giant flat screens are strategically placed throughout the restaurant so it’s possible to watch two or three different games at once. It’s the spot where Little League baseball teams go to celebrate; it’s the place where school kids spend their minimum days; it’s occasionally the destination for a high schooler’s game of Fugitive. On Fridays at noon, business people in shirtsleeves meet up for a casual lunch or to discuss potential investments as the restaurant’s noise level provides adequate privacy.
Hang out at the Dutch Goose, and it won’t be long until you run into someone you know. All in all, Menlo Park would not be the same without the Goose, which just happens to serve the perfect benchmark burger.
This is the first of a series by InMenlo summer intern Rahim Ullah, who will be a senior at Sacred Heart Prep in the fall.
Photo of Dutch Goose hamburger by Irene Searles; photo of Dutch Goose booth by Linda Hubbard