Day two was an early drive into Tennessee. My goal was simple…drive 8 hours to make a reservation at Husk, GQ’s sixth ranked restaurant in the US. Of course there would be a stop or two along the way but at the time I didn’t realize I had the assistance of a change in time zone to grant me an extra hour to complete this daunting task.
Part of the plan was to conveniently arrive in Cincinnati around lunch, allowing me to pop into Terry’s Turf Club. Terry’s is one of these places that has been elevated to elite status in the world of edible Americana. It has been featured on numerous shows and articles including a visit from Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
The exterior could easily be mistaken for an Ohio garage sale. Worn collectibles grace the entire length of the joint. Inside, there’s enough neon to put the Vegas strip to shame. We were greeted by Jim, a friendly maître d’ who informed us we were the first guests of the day and guided us to our seats. He was wearing the first of many Bluetooth earpieces I saw during my travels, an artifact that is near extinct north of the border but is alive and well in the USA.
Terry’s is a burger place. You choose a patty (ranging from lump crab to filet mignon), choose your cheese, decide if you want onions and/or banana peppers and finish with optional toppings for an additional cost. The waitress highly recommended the red wine, wild mushroom and truffle sauce since it was not only her favorite, it was Guy’s choice on the show. I decided to infuse a little irony and add a fried egg (Guy’s nemesis) to the mix. In the end, it was a $13 burger served with potato chips (fries were another $2.25).
I also ordered a TTC deviled egg with shrimp ($3.25) and some pepper paw poppers ($4) to start. The first is a half egg topped with a mango-jalapeno marinated shrimp and filled with a mix of yolk, bearnaise, ghetto mustard and crème fraiche. It was delicious. The filling was thick and hearty. The tanginess was nicely offset by the sweetness and subtle heat of the shrimp. The poppers were an interesting spin on traditional bar food. They are not fried and stuffed with their four cheese mix instead of the traditional cream cheese. They were tasty. The peppers were a natural blend of sweet and spice. The filling had a punch but it was a bit gritty.
While waiting for the burgers, Jim came by and engaged in a very interesting discussion about the restaurant and a past trip to London, Ontario. He and all the staff were extremely friendly and really created a cool vibe, especially when mixed with the copious numbers of neon lights and other symbols of Americana. For example, in an effort to be clean, neat and polite Canadians, we were eating peanuts and nicely stacking the shells on the table. One staff member came by, shook his head in a friendly way and threw them on the floor.
The burgers arrived in decent time. Eight ounces of meat sat between a nicely grilled bun and sat on a paper Dixie plate. The potato chips were nothing more than decoration. Along with the burger came a large serrated knife for the sole purpose of slicing the monstrosity in half to make eating it somewhat possible. As the burger, the meat was a bit stringy, the sauce was a bit salty and the egg was a bit overdone. Collectively, it was a good burger but not a great burger.
Terry’s is a must see if you are in search of what I call “Edible Americana”. The decor is over the top, overflowing with neon, tin and advertisements of yesteryear. The service is superb and sincere. The food is more than acceptable (I really enjoyed the deviled egg) but not among the pinnacle of recreating America’s most beloved foods, the burger. The prices are reasonable unless you can’t fight the temptation to add numerous condiments to the half pound of meat which fills the well-toasted bun. In the end, Terry’s is worth a stop if you’re looking for cheesiness as part of American road trip. If you’re looking for cheese slapped on the best burger on the planet, however, you may be disappointed.
Food– 3.5 Guyz
Service– 5 Guyz
Vibe– 5 Guyz