Location: 3422 Statesville Ave. 28206
Hereford: In what amounts to part II of the lost Charlotte Burger Blog Chronicles (reviews we recorded, but took forever to actually write: more details here ), today we are going to visit a place that came highly recommended to us: Bob’s Pile ‘Em Up
Angus: Or, Pile ‘Em Up Bob’s.
Hereford: Or, Bob’s Carry Out Pile ‘Em Up. I even saw once where it was just listed as Bob’s Carry Out. It seems they never got around to nailing down that name thing. Although, among the various name incarnations they have, three important characteristics of the place are conveyed:
- It’s run by a guy named Bob.
- Your food will be piled up.
- You can’t eat it here.
Angus: Since it’s a carry out, and they have no dining room, we will have a different dining experience than what we normally have. Obviously, this won’t quite be a normal review. While we often go to old-school places where they just take your order then give you your food (Zack’s, South 21, Mr. K’s), this will be our first review that, after doing so, they expect you to get the hell out.
Hereford: No, we’re not kidding. There are multiple “No Loitering” signs on the building. They don’t want you sticking around.
Angus: Actually, it’s probably not for that. We’re just self-centered and think that every sign is about us. My guess is, and this is only a guess, that it’s because of the men’s shelter next door. They probably want to avoid people harassing customers, which is understandable.
Hereford: Still, those signs, the bars on the window (and probably also the shelter itself, although I don’t know if that’s fair) will have the effect of intimidating some customers. Not that I think that matters to Bob’s. It seems they already have a well-established customer base made up of people who, mostly, work nearby. This seems like a place where you grab some quick food on your lunch break for workers in the area.
Angus: If people are intimidated by the outside, their opinion will probably not change when they go inside. It’s a much smaller space that you might expect—just a little waiting area and a window where you place your order.
And, it also looks a little like a gym locker. Maybe a lot like a gym locker. It’s probably an affect of the tile and the drain on the floor. And the fact that when we stopped by, there were only guys there.
Hereford: Inside, we shuffled over to the corner and looked up at the menu options. They sell a lot of fish and shrimp options, as well as breakfast items. But, we came for the burgers. Their burger options are fairly basic. You can get a hamburger, you can make it a double, and you can add bacon (all of which are priced accordingly). With any burger you can get lettuce, tomato, onions, chili, slaw, ketchup, mustard, & mayo.
Angus: Since I got a basic bacon cheeseburger (which I always do), added bacon, lettuce, and mayo.
Hereford: For mine, rather than ask the guy taking orders at the window what I should get (A, because he was busy & B, because I thought he would look at me like I’m an idiot), I got a bacon cheeseburger all the way. I figured I would test out everything they had to offer.
Angus: After placing the order, it only took about six minutes for the food to come out. Immediately, we jumped in the car and raced over to Hereford’s place, like an ambulance racing to the hospital before the patient expired.
We were hoping to reduce the time between getting the food and eating it in order to insure the best food experience. Our thinking was that if it sits in the bag too long, it wouldn’t be as good. Food is almost always better fresh.
Hereford: It took a little over 20 minutes to drive to my place, take everything out, measure everything, explain to my girlfriend why I didn’t order her anything (I forgot), and start eating.
Everything that follows should be read with that in mind.
So, with that said, here’s the Tale of the Tape:
EXHIBIT A: BACON DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER
Official Weight: 13.4 ounces
Official Diameter: 5 inches
Official Height: 3 inches
Angus: We opened our food with great anticipation. The name of this place set some real expectation for me. Taking a look at what we got, it was obvious why they call themselves “Pile ‘Em Up Bob’s” (or, whatever variation of that). It’s because they really pile up the sides. Maybe the burgers aren’t quite piled up (more on this later), but you get a ridiculous amount of fries. For only $6, that’s a great deal. It’s just too bad that they were thick steak fries. I’m not a huge fan of those anyway, and after they ride home they were extra mushy.
As for the burger, here’s what I liked about it:
- The bacon. This might be my favorite bacon I’ve had on a burger yet. It was super floppy with a lot of fan. Perfect.
What I didn’t like:
- The meat. The patties were subpar. They were dry and without much flavor, which is twice as noticeable when you get a double. It had me wishing I had settled for a single.
- The lettuce. They use the garnish lettuce, which we always say that we dislike. Lettuce is on burgers to add crunch. Garnish lettuce is already weak on crunch , and when it sits around it’s even weaker.
So, while I wouldn’t say this was a bad burger, it had some major weaknesses.
EXHIBIT B: BACON CHEESEBURGER ALL THE WAY
Official Weight: 12.3 ounces
Official Diameter: 4.5 inches
Official Height: 2.75 inches
Hereford: It’s always hard to shake first impressions. As humans, we start to generalize information immediately, and those first impressions inform and color all subsequent information. I bring this up because when I took my burger out to weigh it, I noticed the bottom bun of the burger was cut in half. It was such a weird, off-putting thing, and didn’t put me in a good mood to eat the rest of the burger. After all, the bottom bun is vital to the structural integrity of the burger. To have it cleaved in half makes it twice as hard to eat.
Of course, we obsessed over why it was cut in half in the first place. Did the it soke through in a strange way? Did they only have two half-buns left and thought I wouldn’t care? It made no sense. In a normal restaurant I would stop a server and ask, “Hey, what’s up with the bottom bun on this burger?” But, I was already home when I discovered it. I just had to deal with it.
Even if the bun had been in one piece, it probably still would have fallen apart under the mess of this burger. There were onions and lettuce and tomato sliding around everywhere. The chili was more of a sauce than a meaty chili. Although it tasted good, it acted as a lubricant for the other toppings. At one point a tomato went shooting out when I tried to squeeze it together for a bite.
It was so messy that I had a hard time eating my fries and drinking my soda. To do either of those things meant I would A) have to relinquish artfully developed grip, B) spend the next 40 seconds or so cleaning myself so I could pick something else up, and C) then figure out a way to re-grip it.
Obviously, I had too much stuff on this burger. I would have enjoyed it much more if I only had a few of the things that were on there. Since they didn’t specifically recommend this topping configuration to me, I guess I only have myself to blame.
I couldn’t tell all that was on there anyway. The chili was the over powering taste (which it often is). I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the slaw, cheese, or condiments that I ordered, but I assume they were there because they added to the soup that my burger became.
I could tell there were vegetables on the burger, but what I noticed wasn’t very complimentary. Angus already spoke of the lettuce, and I agree with him completely. Until my tomato escaped, it added little and just seemed to get in the way. And the onions were stringy and limp.
So, here’s the final analysis:
Food: 2.75— While Bob’s isn’t in the top tier of burger joints in the Queen City, we can see why so many people like it. We may have been a little rough on it, but it’s not really bad food. It’s probably better if you get to it quicker than we did. And it’s a tremendous value.
Everything Else (Service, Theme, Atmosphere, Beer): N/A—We can’t really judge anything else at Bob’s. Because it’s a carry out place, there really isn’t any service to describe (although, the guy taking the order was friendly enough). There’s no theme, and you can’t judge the atmosphere when it’s not intended for you to stay there for any amount of time. And, they don’t have beer—or, at least they don’t have any that they were sharing with us.
Angus: So, the final question is this: Does Pile ‘Em Up Bob’s live up to its name?
I suppose the answer is yes, but not in the way I was expecting. The burger itself doesn’t seem piled up. At least I wouldn’t call it that. I mean, we got a lot of food, but I would say a piled up burger would look more like this .
But, the sides are definitely piled up. We came didn’t come close to finishing them all.
Hereford: That’s probably a good thing. Later that evening, both Angus and I developed a (potentially unrelated) dull stomach ache. After eating all that I did, I was done with food for the evening.