Joule is a coffee shop, Beasley’s Chicken & Honey features chicken & waffles and Chuck’s specializes in burgers. All three are located on the same block and are part of the continued development in the Downtown Raleigh area that’s making it a very popular spot for families and young professionals.
When my wife and I recently spent the weekend in Raleigh, we were excited to have an opportunity to try lunch at one of these restaurants. All three were very enticing, but we ultimately decided to have burgers at Chuck’s.
The atmosphere has a modern and casual feel. It’s a very open dining room with good natural light. It’s nicer than a sports bar, but not a place where you feel like part of what you’re paying for is expensive lighting or fancy decorations.
The menu featured an outstanding selection of various burgers with gourmet toppings. The burgers were topped with ingredients such as endive, beets, bacon-onion jam, roasted poblanos, Tennessee-sorghum dijon, crispy tobacco onions and much more. If you get a burger here, go big or go home.
Because of my love of all things Southern and my inclination to pick anything on the menu that includes “smoked pork shoulder,” I ordered the half-pound Dirty South burger. According to the menu description, it’s a 100% chuck patty with smoked pork shoulder, Anson Mills Sea Island red pea chili, crispy tobacco onions, roasted tomato malt vinegar slaw, Ashe County mountain cheddar and yellow mustard.
Along with the burger, we ordered a side of fries with espelette aioli, roasted garlic aioli and ketchup for dipping.
If it sounds like a mouthful to say, it’s an even bigger mouthful to eat!
The burger was a massive, beefy, tasty mess. The half-pound patty provided that strong meaty flavor and the chili, slaw and mustard were all heaped on to provide a fun burger eating experience that required both hands. I really enjoyed the crunch of the crispy onions and the red pea chili was a unique texture you don’t normally find when adding chili to a burger. It’s clear how the Carolina-style influences were the inspiration in creating this for the menu.
My only complaint would be the lack of the ingredient that stood out most when ordering The Dirty South. I couldn’t taste any of the smoked pork shoulder! I don’t know if it was overpowered by the chili and beef, or if they only used a very small amount of pork, but I don’t think I tasted it in any bite. At least the rest of the ingredients made up for it!
The fries were thick wedges of potatoes cooked to a golden brown with plenty of that salty, crispy flavor that makes french fries such a great side with any sandwich. I wasn’t a fan of the two different aiolis, but I’m usually pretty simple and prefer to just have ketchup with my fries.
Nicole had seen the shrimp burger on the menu and was excited to try this creative take on a burger. She decided to get it on a bed of lettuce instead of a traditional bun, and I think we both figured it would be some sort of shrimp patty. We were both very surprised when it was delivered to our table and it was nothing more than a few pieces of fried shrimp on top of a salad.
I was surprised that a burger restaurant that is clearly trying to offer many gourmet options would include an item on the menu that’s nothing more than a fried shrimp sandwich. It was also odd that the next item on the menu was a chicken sandwich, which the menu clearly described as “fried” in the title, while there was no mention of that with the shrimp burger. For a restaurant that appears to have it all together, the shrimp approach seems like a swing-and-a-miss.
Fortunately, as I mentioned previously, our waiter was very accommodating and did everything he could to correct the situation. He apologized repeatedly for the mix-up and for the misunderstanding in what we thought a “shrimp burger” would be. I appreciated him taking the initiative to fix things and it’s a great sign for Chuck’s if that’s how their servers handle problems.
The prices at Chuck’s are very reasonable as the burgers are either $6.75 or $9 depending on the size you order, and it’s a great place for a casual meal. I’ve now had a taste of an Ashley Christensen restaurant and I’m hungry for more.
237 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh, NC 27601