We showed up at about 6 p.m. on a Tuesday at Ferndale's Emory to try the restaurant's "famous" burger and were not disappointed by it. But there were other small issues.
First, we must lodge a minor complaint about parking in the nearby city lot. Why do they designate your parking spot with a four-digit number? There aren't 10,000 parking spaces in the lot! We puzzled over it as we walked up to the Emory and decided it must be a means of screening out people who are too drunk. If you cannot remember the number of your parking spot by the time you get to the parking lot's sole machine, you are too drunk to visit downtown Ferndale. You should get in your car and drive home. (Seriously, though, our buddy forgot the number stone-cold sober. What's up with that, Ferndale?)
As for the Emory, it's kind of ridiculous to describe it, right? Chances are that you've been there. You've seen the reclaimed wood. You've toasted your buds in one of the wraparound booths. Perhaps you've basked in the bar's late-night singles scene.
At 6 p.m., however, it's not yet a bar. Anyplace you take your 6-week-old child to is not a bar — yet. We were able to get a table for four without a problem, far away from any tykes, laughing a bit about the high-energy alt-rock on the sound system.
The burger itself is excellent. It doesn't come with a whole lot of trimmings, but we don't care much about that. It was cooked to order (in this case, medium well) and came with romaine, tomato, red onion, and pickles.
The romaine is a nice touch. It's easy to see why romaine has become so popular these days, a step up from the iceberg of yesteryear. The ruffled end of a romaine leaf doesn't have that distracting iceberg crunch, and provides an adequate vegetative flavor, as well as serving as a sort of moisture barrier between the bun and the condiments and burger.
The slice of tomato comes perfect, not too thick, and flavorful enough to eat alone with a pinch of salt. The red onion is just a few layers in a ring; what do they do with the centers, we wonder. Finally, the pickles are good, not an afterthought, but not quite worth a raving review of their own.
The Emory is very proud of its burgers. The two-handers are a half-pound each, sourced from Detroit's Fairway Packing. The buns come from Hermann's of Royal Oak.
It's a pretty good combination. If we had one teeny cavil, it would be that the buns are a bit on the generous side. We always love it when the burger is a bit bigger than the bun. That said, these are no poofy, sesame-laden gravy-soakers. They're resilient, with a bit of a bark on them, and the cut was just a bit irregular on ours, which was fine, calling to mind its artisanal origins.
Altogether, a great burger, one of those you're liable to start crushing so hard your buddy will say, "Whoa, Cousteau! Come up for air!"
The side of fresh-cut fries is also excellent. Anybody who has ever made fries at home knows how hard it is to drop thinnish, hand-cut fries into hot oil and get the outside just a bit brown and crisp and give the interior that perfect, almost gummy consistency.
The day to explore this treat is Tuesday, as you'll get your burger and fries for $6 instead of the typical $8.95. At prices like this, it's a steal.