George’s first stop is Louis' Lunch in New Haven – the oldest hamburger restaurant in America.
George talks with the owner of Louis’ Lunch, Jeff Lassen, who, along with his brother, is keeping their great-grandfather’s tradition alive.
They still serve the same hamburger their great-grandfather made, even using the same upright broilers from 1898. Their traditional burger is topped with tomato, onion and a sharp cheddar spread on toasted white bread.
George’s second stop is Shady Glen in Manchester, CT – a tribute to the '50s-style diner. Shady Glen was originally an ice cream stop, but the restaurant’s first owner, Bernice Rieg, brought in a grill for the winter months and started serving burgers.
The manger of Shady Glen walks George through their utterly unique burger-cooking process.
George talks with the owner's son, Bill Hoch, at Shady Glen. It is not known how the original owner came up with the “Bernice Original,” but it is one of the most unique burgers in the US.
The ground sirloin burger at Shady Glen is cooked on a flattop grill with 4 slices of cheddar cheese placed symmetrically on the burger. When the cheese starts to cook through, the line cook bends the cheese upwards, forming a crown of delicious crispy cheese that sits atop the burger.
Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT, has been serving steamed cheeseburgers – or “cheeseburgs” as the locals call them -- since 1959.
Bill Foreman, the current owner of Ted’s, puts ground beef into small pans and slides them into his custom steam box. In a separate steam box, he melts Vermont cheddar to top this juicy, fluffy burger.
The owner of Ted’s discusses the merits of the steamed cheeseburger with George. Steamed burgers are specific to the central part of Connecticut, and they are served by only 20-25 places.
The origins of this burger, much like other burgers in this state, started with the abundance of factories in Connecticut years ago. Workers needed a quick and inexpensive meal, and Ted’s was there to provide them with it.
Harry's Place in Colchester, CT, was opened in 1920 by original owner Harry Schmuckler, but it was only open from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween, due to Connecticut’s cold winter months.
George and Chris Fischer, local burger expert and George’s college roommate, try the burger at Harry's Place.
At Harry's Place, there are a variety of toppings you can get with their burger, but the classic combination is sautéed onions, white American cheese and either ketchup or mustard.