Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Madison's Cafe
216 Madison St
Jefferson City, MO


Burger Menu

Richard; Burger-44/50; Sides-8.5/10; Service-18/20; Ambiance-9/10; Location-7/10 (Jeff City)
Mark: Burger-44/50; Sides-No side; Service-18/20; Ambiance-9/10; Location-7/10 (Jeff City)

Richard orders the Smothered Burger ($8.95) which comes with NO bun and NO sides (but it IS 9 ounces!). "This might be too much burger," Richard says. "I have to

say, it's really good! And it's cooked just the way I ordered it (medium rare). Maybe too many mushrooms. But I really like the burger! 44/50!" Richard orders fries as his side.

I also order the Smothered Burger ($8.95) and since I'm gluten free no bun is excellent as far as I'm concerned (I brought my own GF bun, anyhow). As far as the 9 ounces being too big, when it comes to burgers, too much is not enough for me. I think the amount of 'shrooms on my burger is excellent! I, too, very much enjoy the burger and mine, too, is cooked just right (medium rare). I score it 44/50 as well.

Richard says "These fries are a bit smaller than I prefer but they're very nicely flavored. I think they are using a really good oil. They are cooked just right - crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. 8.5/10."

I decided not to order a side as the fries are NOT cooked in a gluten free oil, thus cross-contamination could be a problem.

"Our server did a really nice job! She was attentive, prompt, and somehow she got me what I was about to ask for before I asked for it. Almost like she read my mind! 18/20!"

I also score service at 18/20 and agree with everything Richard had to  say. Plus, our server DID ask us how we wanted the burgers cooked (medium rare) and when the burgers got to our table they were medium rare! The wait for our food was not too long.

Regarding ambiance, Richard says "This cafe is really comfortable. I really like the way they've changed the layout since the last time I was here. 9/10."

I too score ambiance at 9/10. Madison's is busy, but not too loud, it's nicely lighted, clean, and as Richard says, very comfortable.

Location is difficult to score. It IS in Jeff City, after all, a 30 mile drive each way from Columbia. We both score it 7/10, but if we lived in JC we would score location higher. Parking was tight and we ended up in the parking ramp across the street, which worked out well since the folks at Madison's are nice enough to validate so there was very little charge for parking (we paid for anything over an hour; I think it cost us 50 cents).

We both think this is quite a good burger and would happily return for another.

Have you been to Madison's Cafe in Jefferson City? If so, let us know what you think; we'd LOVE to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Kostaki's Pizzeria 
2011 Corona Rd, #165
Columbia, MO 65203

News article about new store

Burger Menu

Best and Worst Fast Food places (and burgers) in America (video)

Overall scores:

Richard: Burger-43/50; Sides-9/10; Service-18/20; Ambiance-6/10; Location-9/10
Mark: Burger-42/50; Sides-8/10; Service-18/20; Ambiance-6/10; Location-6/10
John (guest reviewer): Burger-45/50; Sides-7/10; Service-18/20; Ambiance-6/10; Location-no score

Richard orders the Bacon Burger ($9.99) with fries. "This is a good burger. I like it! They've cooked it close to the way I ordered it - medium rarer - it's only a tiny bit overcooked. This is a big burger. 43/50."

John opts to create his own burger from the options available on the menu ($9.99) with a Ceaser Salad side. "I like this burger and I really like the idea of creating my own burger. This bun is excellent! The burger is done just the way I like it - medium well - it's juicy, too. I'll score this burger 45/50."

I order the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger ($9.99) with a side salad (substituted for the fries since the fries are not gluten free due to cross contamination of the oil). The burgers are 1/2 lb and mine is only slightly overdone (ordered medium rare, came medium). It's a juicy burger and I really like the size (too much is not enough for me!).  I think this is a really good burger with good flavor! 42/50.

Richard says "My fries are really good! They're the size like, are cooked perfectly - crispy outside and tender inside - and they're seasoned perfectly. 9/10!"

John says "This is a pretty good salad. The lettuce is fresh and crisp. The croutons are good, too. I'll score the salad at 7/10.

I score my garden salad at 8/10 and I'm thinking I should have gone 9/10 as the Raspberry Vinaigrette is excellent!

Service gets a 18/20 from Richard. "Our server did a real nice job. She came to the table just often enough, responded to our requests right away - overall, a good job! She didn't ask how we wanted our burgers done, though, so 18/20,"

John says "18/20 from me, too. She did a nice job! She listened to what we were saying and has a really nice personality. Good job!"

I, too, think the service is good and I also score service at 18/20.

"Well, I guess we have to give them some slack when it comes to ambiance as they just opened this location. Though they could put something - photos or paintings, whatever - on the wall," Richard says. "It's a bit cafeteria-like right now. 6/10."

John says "I agree with Richard. It seems empty: nothing on the walls...it feels a bit 'sterile,' I would say. 6/10."

For the same reasons I score Ambiance at 6/10, too.

"I like this location - it's on my side of town. I had no trouble getting parking and there is no meter to plug! 9/10 from me!"

John is visiting from out-of-town and does not score location.

As far as I'm concerned, the location is fine. It's in the same building as Laser Bowling and a room full of video games and next door to a lumber yard. I came in off AC and turned into the parking lot of the lumber yard, then missed the quick left to get to the parking lot for the restaurant. There is plenty of FREE parking, but it's a bit of a trip from my house, so I score it  6/10.

We all very much enjoyed the burgers at Kostaki's new (and second) location. We agree we would go back for another. But, this is not quite the best burger in Columbia.

Have you been to the new (2nd) Kostaki's Pizzeria location? If so , we'd love to hear from you! Let us know what you think: does our review describe how you feel about Kostaki's burger, or do you have a differing opinion? Let us know!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Teller's Gallery and Bar
820 E Broadway
Columbia, MO 65201

Best Burger Recipes Article


Overall scores:
Richard-Burger 44/50; Sides 6/10; Service 15/20; Ambiance 8/10; Location 6/10
Mark-Burger 42/50; Sides 8/10; Service 16/20; Ambiance 8/10; Location 7/10

Richard orders the Blackened Bleu Cheeseburger ($6.99) with tater tots ($1.00). "This is a big " (1/2 LB) burger. And juicy, too. I'm going to need another napkin. I ordered it medium rare, but this is much closer to rare. It should have been left on the grill for another minute or so. How often do you hear me say a burger is not done enough? 44/50!"


I order the 1/2 LB Charbroiled Burger ($6.99; the menu says $6.25) with mashed ($1.00). I think it's quite good, but it needs seasoning (some salt would be good). My burger, too, was rare, which was fine for me: I would prefer rare to medium when I order medium rare! Richard is right: this is a big, juicy burger. I like it! (42/50). As always, I brought my own gluten free bun.

Regarding the tater tots, Richard says "Well, I'm fairly sure these are frozen and come from a bag from the grocery store. They are not very flavorful. 6/10. I won't order these again."

I order the cheesy-mashed and I have to say, I think the potatoes are pretty good. 8/10.

"We did get service, so that's good," Richard says, "but it took quite awhile. Maybe it's because we're sitting outside. I note there is no salt and pepper on the table and there are not many table visits. I need salt, another napkin...15/20."

I have to agree: a few more timely visits to the table would have been a good thing. 16/20.

"I like sitting outside; we can watch the folks walk by. 8/8," Richard says.

Sitting outside is fine with me, but I think it's a fairly hot day and a little air conditioning would have been fine with me. 8/10.

"It's downtown.. I had a tough time finding parking. And I had to plug the meter, so now I have to watch the clock while I eat. 6/7," Richards says.

I had no trouble finding parking (lucky today). I hate having to put money in the meter, though. And the price of a ticket has jumped way up, so that's not good. I do like the way Teller's is positioned on the corner. Good view. 7/7.

This is a good burger. And the folks at Teller's are consistent, too, as we enjoyed the burger last time we were here. We don't think this is the best burger in Columbia, though.

Have you had a burger at Teller's (a reader tells me they only serve burgers at lunch - he went at night, no burgers available)? If so, let us know: are we on target, or are we crazy rating this burger the way we did?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Cracker Barrel
3304 Clark Lane
Columbia, MO 65202

(Are these the 10 best burger places in America?)


Burger Menu

Overall Scores
RH: Burger-42/50; Sides-7/10; Service-17/20; Ambiance-8/10; Location-7/10
MD: Burger-40/50; Sides-8/10; Service-19/20; Ambiance-8/10; Location-8/10

Richard orders the cheeseburgers (1/2 lb, $8.39 w/fries) and says "This burgers is a bit above average. It's a good piece of meat, cooked pretty well, not greasy. It's not 'overloaded' with 'stuff' and the bun is holding up well. 42/50!"

I order the bacon cheeseburger ($6.99; no side other than the slaw that comes with the burger; the fries are NOT gluten free). My burger is good, though slightly overcooked. It's a good burger, but not really distinguishable from many other burgers available in the area. 40/50.

"My fries are too big and not cooked quite enough," Richard says. "There's minimal flavoring on them. The slaw is good. I'll give the fries 7/10."

Since the fries are not gluten free I don't order a side, but I give the slaw an 8/10. It's just sweet enough without being too sweet.

"Our server did a nice job," Richard says. "It did take a bit of time for our burgers to arrive, but they are pretty busy. I'll score service at 17/20."

I score service at 19/20. I think our server did a nice job, has a good sense of humor is just conversational enough to be fun while not being over-bearing.

Richard scores ambiance at 8/10. "I think the place is pretty comfortable," he says. "And I can do all my shopping right up front, too!" he says with a laugh.

I think the front lobby - where all the stuff for sale is located - is quite 'kitschy' but I guess that's the point. The restaurant area is nice; they're busy but the place is not too loud and not too crowded. I score ambiance at 8/10.

"I'm not crazy about the intersection at Clark Lane and do my best to avoid it," Richard says. "But the parking is free and there's plenty of it and the place is easy to find. I'll score location at 8/10."

I also score location at 8/10 for the same reason. Clark Lane is a bit of a pain at the intersection of 63 and Clark Lane.

This is a good burger. We'd go back for another one. It's a good sized burger and they got it cooked close to the way we both ordered it: medium rare (though both of our burgers were closer to medium).

Have you had a burger at the Columbia Cracker Barrel? If so, we'd enjoy knowing what you think. Post a reply and let us know about your experience!

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Mad Cow
503 E. Nifong
Columbia, MO 65201


Overall Scores
RH: Burger-40/50; Sides-8/10; Service-17/20; Ambiance-5/10; Location-9/10
MD: Burger-38/50; Sides-8/10; Service - 17/20; Ambiance -7/10; Location - 7/10

It was time for a return trip to Mad Cow.  Our first trip was shortly after the place opened.

Richard orders a bacon cheeseburger with fries ($4.99-single patty). "This is good bacon! It helps the burger, which is, I think, good meat, but pretty flavorless. The bun held up nicely. I'll give this 40/50."

I have the bacon cheeseburger as well ($6.30-two patties). Richard is right: the meat seems to be OK, but there is minimal flavor and because it is overcooked (well done) there's not much 'juice' either. I'll score this one at 38/50.

Richard scores his fries at 8/10. "I'll try the Mad Cow Sauce next time. These fries are pretty flavorless."


The person at the counter (you order at the counter) tells me that they will cook the fries in a dedicated oil. I ask if there are any battered products cooked in the oil and am told that yes, but they have two deep fryers and one has not had any battered products fried in it and she will make sure the cook uses the 'clean' oil so my fires will be gluten free.

Although I'm very concerned about this - the chance for a mistake and cross-contamination is high, I fear - I'm so excited at the chance to have fries at a restaurant I go ahead and order them.

I think the fires are under-cooked. So you know, I think the same of the fries at Five Guys (this place is very,  very much like a Five Guys). I do like how salty they are, though, and at the time score them at 8/10.


On Saturday morning - about 15 hours after eating at Mad Cow, I start to not feel very well. I eat Saturday night - the same food as my wife, though (for the first time ever) I eat less than she does.

Around 2 AM on Sunday morning I find myself in the bathroom with severe - I mean severe - stomach cramps. This continues through Tuesday morning. Things got so bad I ate nothing for three days. And was happy about it (another first!).

Richard had no stomach problems, so I'm sure the food at Mad Cow was fine. Susan had no problems, so I'm sure the food we cooked at home was fine.

I, on the other hand, had serious stomach issues and the only thing I can think that could have caused it  - the symptoms replicated the symptoms I get whenever I mistakenly ingest gluten -  is that I ate something that contained gluten.


Of course, I can't say for sure what the source of the gluten was, but if I were a betting man I believe I would come up a winner with the source I consider the culprit. The truth is, I cannot say for sure that my suspect was the source of the gluten, or that my illness was even gluten-related.

I'm just saying: from this point forward, if I even think there might be even the tiniest possibility of cross-contamination I, personally,  will NOT take the chance.

There's not a  lot to say about the service here since you walk up to the counter, order, take your number and wait for it to be called. That being said:

Richard scores service 16/20. "It's easy and they were pretty quick," he says.

I score service at 17/20 (at the time) since they are willing to cook the fries in a 'dedicated' oil.

Richard scores ambiance at 5/10 and says "What ambiance?"

I score it 7/10. It is what it is - and as far as that goes, the ambiance is fine. No free peanuts, though.

Because it's on his side of town Richard scores location 9/10. "And there's plenty of free parking,, too,"  he says.

I like the free parking, but the place is on the south side, a long trip for me, but it is easy to get too, so I score location at 7/10.

This is an OK burger but we are do not think this is the best burger in Columbia.

And we still think Mad Cow is an 'interesting' name for a burger joint!

Have you eaten at Mad Cow? If so, we'd like to hear from  you. 


My wife  (Mark's) was in D.C. last week and while there she and her friends stopped for a burger at (Ted's) Bulletin on 14th Street (1818 14th St., NW). I'm told the burgers were fine ($12+) but the interesting thing is the burger with the interesting name Drew's Peanut Butter Bacon Burger ($12.79)

The description reads: Sesame seed bun, peanut butter, Applewood smoked bacon - side of sweet Roma tomato jam

I admit it: peanut butter on a burger (with bacon) does NOT sound at all appetizing to me, but two of my wife's friends ordered it and here's the thing: THEY BOTH LOVED IT! One says she will never (and that is a long! time) have a burger again without peanut butter.

So now I'm going to have to try it. I'll let you know.

If you've had a burger with peanut butter please let us know what you thought of it. Thanks!