Crediting a mutual friend for the burger recommendation, my quest for great burgers brought me to Oxford, MA… to another hole-in-the-wall local favorite called The Whistle Stop. Located on Main Street, this is an establishment that you could easily drive right by, if it weren’t for the large railroad crossing signs decorating the road side. Upon entering, you are met with the décor similar to your grandmother’s country house, who can’t seem to throw anything out. There are many antique signs and knick-knacks that bring back a sense of nostalgia to when times were simpler, and when our country was thriving. In a sense, it is comforting and vaguely familiar as a first timer, you do feel right at home.
As I sat down and ordered my favorite Leinenkugel, I took some time to peruse the menu and immediately felt slightly overwhelmed. The menu for such a small place was quite large. They had so many items on the menu, from pub favorite appetizers, to pasta and seafood, to prime rib, fish tacos and a slew of sandwiches. For a menu with so many items on it, I was surprised to see that they only offered 5 burgers, but had a build-your-own section filled with different toppings, and sauces to customize your own meal in the event that you’re not feeling their house specialty burgers. I decided on the Triple Smoke Burger ($12). This was advertised as seasoned with chipotle pepper & smoked paprika with habanero pepper cheese, chipotle aioli, sliced avocado, sliced red onion & fresh cilantro. Anyone who is familiar with my blog will know I love a spicy burger. The thought of chipotle peppers and habanero cheese excited my taste buds and made me flush with anticipation.
When my burger was served, I was presented with a decent sized burger, with neat avocado slices on top, adorned with small red onions on top, and a big dollop of the chipotle aioli on the top of the bun. From initial inspection, I was missing the fresh cilantro. That freshness, brightness and frangrance that cilantro brings would have been a wonderful condiment. As I started consuming my meal, I was happy that they chose a hearty, buttery bun that can hold up to a good sized burger and all its toppings. It was soft on the inside, while being slightly crispy from being toasted. The burger meat itself was cooked to a nice medium, and was quite juicy. However, I found myself once again searching for the seasoning within the burger patty. The chipotle pepper and paprika were nowhere to be found within the patty, and it was really needed as I wanted a smoky flavor and some heat with each bite. The avocado is always a great addition by lending a creamy texture. The red onion also added a crunch and an assertive spice to each bite. Unfortunately, I was once again let down by the lack of spice from the cheese. Being habanero, I wanted more of a kick… something that warms your pallet as you continue to eat, and accentuates the flavors around it. I just found myself wanting more out of the burger. The fries might have been one of the best parts of the meal. They were large, thick cut steak fries that were fried perfectly golden brown and seasoned nicely. A healthy dose of ketchup was just what the doctor ordered to clean the plate of this side kick.
Enjoying some company with a close friend and my significant other, it was clear that this restaurant certainly was unique. With many menu options, including some lighter faire, trivia on Thursday nights, and something for everyone, I could see how this restaurant was busy, even on a normally slow Tuesday night. Overall, I was pleased with my burger, but it did not wow me. The end product was a delightfully satisfying meal, but just lacked some finesse and attention to small details that really would’ve been able to take the burger up a notch. If you’re even passing through Oxford on Main Street, I would recommend stopping in for a comforting meal. Where will my burger quest take me next? Natick? Leominster? Tweet me your suggestions @EDioufUC5 and your pick just might make the short list. Until next time…