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A tale of a bungled bacon blue burger

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By Jennifer Garcia

Finding a place to grab a late-night bite to eat in Los Alamos is virtually impossible — and by late night, we’re talking after 8 p.m. The choices are limited to McDonald’s and Sonic, so if you’re looking for something other than fast food, you’re out of luck.
There’s at least one restaurant that stays open past 8 p.m. — the Aspen Grill. Having the hankering for dinner after 8 p.m. one Friday night, it seemed like the perfect place to get a bite.
Located in the bar inside the Best Western Hilltop House Hotel, it’s not easy to find. In fact, there’s no indication (other than the sign outside) that there even is a restaurant there. It seems like just place to drink, but once you walk in and find a seat, you’ll receive a menu featuring pub fare.
The bar/restaurant is small, with only a few tables located within close proximity of each other, but it seems that there is an addition located behind the bar, that also has tables. On that particular Friday night, the place was dead, save for a small group of men enjoying cocktails in the center of the room. The two waitresses were having dinner in the corner, while a college baseball game played on the televisions suspended from the ceiling.
A quick glance at the menu made it clear that this was an appetizer, sandwich, burger kind of place and that’s fine. One doesn’t expect much more at a bar, after all. The usual appetizers are offered up — cheese sticks, chips and salsa, buffalo wings, chile cheese fries, mushrooms, etc.
Burgers with fun names like “Fat Man,” and “Little Boy” grace the menu, along with a veggie burger, turkey bacon wrap and buffalo chicken sandwich and a few other offerings.
The buffalo chicken sandwich was ordered, but the waitress said there was no buffalo sauce, so that — along with buffalo wings — was out of the question. Instead, two bacon blue burgers, with fries were ordered. One burger was ordered medium-well, the other, medium. Two Coca-Colas were also ordered.
After what seemed like a long wait, the food arrived. It was immediately noticed that one of the buns was a bit scorched in spots, from having been on the grill too long. It was still edible, however, but just barely. There was a smattering of blue cheese on that burger, as well — almost as if the cook had put it there as an afterthought. The bacon was crispy, so that was a positive, but the fries were a bit cold. In addition, the burger was cooked to death. It definitely did not arrive medium-well, as ordered. Instead, the patty was dry, which made it hard to swallow and given the fact that the bun was also over-done, eating it became a workout.
The second burger was not medium, but it wasn’t over-cooked, either. However, it also did not have much blue cheese on it. That bun was also scorched around the edges, but all in all, it seemed that burger was in better shape overall.
The ketchup and mustard bottles, while clean on the outside, were extremely crusty around the top and hard to open.
After the initial soda, the waitress offered no refills, which was a disappointment, given the fact that it helped wash down the dry burger. She seemed busy doing other things, like finishing her dinner, changing clothes and walking in and out of the bar.
The other waitress finished her dinner and began counting the cash drawer, a signal that they were ready to close. The waitress that took the order disappeared for a while and when she came back, she had changed from her white blouse and black slacks to a T-shirt and jeans — another clue that the place was getting ready to close.
The waitress had to be flagged down for the check, which came out to $25.26 before tip.
Overall, the bar was clean. The tables inside seemed too close together, but that’s to be expected in that sort of setting. The waitresses were neat in appearance, but were not wearing matching uniforms. One was wearing slacks, while the other wore a long skirt with very high slits up the sides, which didn’t seem like waitress attire at all, so perhaps she was a manager or bartender?
The visit was a first and was also a disappointment. Perhaps it was the “late” hour, but it seems that if someone is willing to pay for a meal, that meal should be decent.
Perhaps a trip to McDonald’s or Sonic would have been better. It definitely would have been cheaper.

ASPEN GRILL REVIEW

Thanks for the warning, Jennifer!