If you’re a fan of vintage neon signs you may have heard of Cincinnati’s Terry Carter. Terry owned a night club aptly named Neon in the Over the Rhine neighbourhood. Terry has moved on and now owns and operates Terry’s Turf Club in the near by Mt. Washington neighbourhood. While the old place was a night club, the Turf Club is all about the food. Other than Terry, the two places have one thing in common. Terry’s extensive collection of metal and neon signs, figures and other sundry quirky items.
The Turf Club may be a neon museum but it’s the food that brings people in. Often voted Cinci’s Best Burger (along with it’s main rival, Zips). What makes Terry’s burgers so special isn’t the meat or the bun. Even though they’re great. It’s not that they’re cooked on a flat top. The best way to cook a burger. No, it’s the toppings. And I’m not talking Pickles and Lettuce here. Terry, an avid outdoorsman, has travelled the country and the world and is always looking for something unique that’ll work on a burger and take it to another level. Like Fois Gras or Swedish cheese or Mangos or Lobster Tails. Heck, even his burger seasoning has off beat ingredients like Grains of Paradise and Annatto. He’s constanly reinventing the wheel. Always trying to keep it fresh and interesting. With a reputation like that line ups can be long and arduous. It’s not uncommon for there to be people snaking out the door and down the street.
Terry’s looks like it used to be someone’s home. It rests on the side of a hill and is an awesome spectacle. Gorgeous hanging plants shroud the large front porch and The collection of restored metal and neon is worth the drive itself. They’re everywhere and add a nice level of kitsch.
Inside place mirrors the exterior. Neon, neon everywhere and cylindrical coolers known as Bevadors. There are basically no light fixtures so the whole place is bathed in neon glow. Space and seating are minimal at best. Every nook, every cranny has a function or is otherwise employed. Because it’s so busy and seating is limited it’s communal. So don’t be surprised if you’re seated with people you’ve never met. As well, don’t be a stranger with these people. We met a father/son pair when we sat down and had a wonderful conversation about absolutely nothing in particular. After they left, 3 gentlemen about my age sat down and we chatted food. Food, food and more food. We didn’t meet 5 strangers. We made 5 new friends.
A few years back I started compiling a bit of a “To do” list of places that I felt we needed to visit. On that list was Terry’s Turf Club. It took a while to get there but it became a high priority after viewing the visit of Guy Fieri and the Triple D gang.
Seeing what Guy was served made it just that much more tempting.
To start things off, I'll explain the menu for you. It's basically in 3 sections. Appetizers, Sandwiches and, to borrow a Starbucks term, Modifiers. If you order a sandwich it comes bare bones. There is a small section of free condiments like onions and pickles. The standard stuff. Then there's about a full page of up charge extras like cheese, bacon, crab cakes, specialty sauces, etc., that you can add as well to customize your sandwich. For instance, when Guy was there he ordered a Burger with Swiss, Grilled Onion and Burgandy Wine w/ Wild Mushrooms & Truffles Sauce. Not really my cup of tea but he sure enjoyed it. So you get the idea.
Anyway, on to the food.
All sandwiches come with potato chips but since I hate plain potato chips (unless there's dip) I added fries. They're fresh cut and cooked to a beautiful brown colour. They had really good potato flavour but lacked a good crunch. There was a bit of crispness so it's not like they were limp, soggy tuber sticks but not the best either. So satisfactory all in all and certainly better than the chips would've been.
Our lunch guest, The Squire, opted for the Portobello Burger with Provolone and Mango/Curry Sauce. It comes out looking really nice as you can see but sadly, that didn't last. It lost complete and total structural integrity (and not in the good way) almost immediately. The Squire was mildly frustrated but quickly picked up a knife and fork and set to it. He said it was fantastic all in all with just the right amount of kick.
Both Mrs. Sippi and I went fairly old school. The standard burger with American Cheese and Bacon. What we got was a burger that was way up in the heirarchy of best burgers. This is magnificent. Definitely a top 5 burger for both of us. The meat had as good a taste as any I've had. Almost steak like in flavour. The cheese adds a nice creamy component, not to mention the cheesiness. The bacon, 3 strips of it, was good quality and really stood up well to everything else. Again, this is one incredible burger.
So there you have it folks, one of the US's best burgers in a cool and funky place.
You can find Terry's Turf Club at 4618 Eastern Ave, Cincinnati, Oh.
You can also find them on facebook.
Well that's all for now folks, we'll see ya next time in the food court.