#290: Wayback Burgers

12:50PM, 3/25/2023

Wayback Burgers on Fairway. Clearly a chain based on nostalgia as a marketing angle, but nostalgia of what period? The stools at the counter spots scream 50’s while the music (Red Hot Chili Peppers Give It Away, and others) was squarely in the 90’s. The rest of the place is fairly modern and nondescript. I’m not sure that era really matters here though. The entire concept seems to be unapologetically greasy fast food with a consistency that is hard to match. This is a much larger chain than I expected. California has less than 10 locations, but they seem to have a significant presence from the East Coast all the way to Texas.

I’ve been here a handful of times over the years since I first noticed it. It’s exactly what you might expect – burgers, fries and shakes as the main items. They also have tots and onion rings for side choices. I think I’ve always ordered the same burger, The Cheeeesy, occasionally making a minor modification by adding bacon. For sides I’ve also always ordered tots. The Cajun Tots with a Cajun Remoulade was my first introduction to them. It’s still on the menu and it was great, but today I was drawn to their currently promoted item, the Fried Cheese Curds.

My complete order: The Cheeeesy (We encourage you to pronounce all four E’s when you order. Four slices of melted American cheese and two beef patties cooked-to-order, sandwiched between an inverted, grilled, and buttered bun)[$9.49], Fried Cheese Curds (Crispy fried cheddar cheese)[$4.99] and a fountain drink [$2.89]. I got the cutest little metal table number, filled up at the fountains further back in the narrow dining room space, then found a table up front. My order was delivered in a shockingly quick three minutes, much faster than usual, although they tend to be fairly quick.

Everything looked beautiful. The curds were a perfect golden fried color with some extra little flakes that might have been salt or some kind of seasoning. They were, overall, a bit on the saltier side. Although the menu says “with dip,” and shows what looks like ketchup (Wisconsinites may shudder, what no ranch?), but I was neither provided with nor offered any dipping sauces. No matter, these were perfectly enjoyable with no dip. The cheese wasn’t quite as stretchy as the real deal, such as what I enjoyed on a trip to Marieke Gouda in Thorp, WI (some photos below), but they had plenty of cheesy goodness inside for a fast food version.

The burger, oh man, the burger. This thing never disappoints. Four slices of perfectly melty, surprisingly flavorful American cheese hold the two greasy beef patties in place between the buttery grilled bun. This thing glistens in the light. It’s maybe the perfect hangover burger. Juicy, cheesy and flavorful to the last bite. I freaking love this monstrosity.

This visit was not unlike my previous times. Fast, friendly service coupled with excellent junk food done perfectly every time. It’s slightly pricier than a fast food joint but the quality is far superior in by opinion. I dig it.


#289: Cluck N Cone

12:20PM, 3/12/2023 – UPDATED WITH VISIT ON 3/21/2023


It’s been a little slow start to 2023. I took some time yesterday to refresh my list of pending restaurants and was a little shocked at the number. I came up with 50, with only a couple of those just outside Roseville. With that work done I took to my random picker app, spun the wheel and ended up on Cluck N Cone, a place I knew nothing about other than the name. Brief searching to see hours and location spoiled the concept a bit when I saw photos next to the map location. It’s a different take on chicken and waffles, essentially. I headed out a bit after noon and arrived in the Stone Point center at about 12:15. I had a slightly windy but rain-free moment to toss up my drone for some snaps and then headed in.

Cluck N Cone is located off in the corner, near Costa Vida, in the location that Trademark Pizza once held (sad to have seen them go, I really enjoyed that place). Much like my first visit to Trademark, I was greeted by the enthusiastic owner, in this case Lauren, who happily answered my questions about various menu items and talked some about their food and how they had some executive chefs design the recipes, all while zipping back and forth in the kitchen working on some Mac and cheese for a to go order.

a bit windy

The space has retained the basic layout from Trademark, but it’s seen a significant facelift in its aesthetics. Gone is the wood paneling and cream-colored walls in favor of a brighter white brick wall. The high top and low top tables have been replaced, including with new colorful seating, although Cluck N Cone mirrored the original seating layout mostly, with the high tops at the back.

I went over the menu for a while, which is a daunting display of mostly text. Now that I’m more familiar with the concept I can make a lot more sense of it. It was pretty confusing at the time though. It could use some lines or boxes or bolder headings to help differentiate sections from one another, at a minimum. Anyway, basically they have a bunch of pre-configured cones you can choose from [$12.95, or make it a combo with fries for $18.95]. Additionally, you can configure your own. I’m not sure if it’s sort of a Chipotle sort of situation where they build it in front of you as you pick out the toppings, or if you need to know what you want when placing the order. I didn’t see any obvious list of possible ingredients, other than what I could see in the make table through the glass. The menu does show a list of various sauces available. Obviously I had gone with a pre-made option. When asking what they would recommend for a first-timer I was told that the popular one was The Millionaires, which is what I went with. This had Shredded Lettuce, Millionaire’s Bacon, Waffle Battered Chicken, Ranch Dressing and Avocado. As my eyes are usually bigger than my stomach, and wanting more things to photograph, I also picked out the Cluck Yeah! (Fries, Chicken, Cheese Sauce, Cluck N Sauce, Ranch & Buffalo Sauce)[$9.95] to go with it. I finished my order off with a fountain soda [$2.25].

Although I was the only customer in the place at the time, Lauren and the one other person working at the time had their hands busy with to go orders for much of the time. Noticing one of the cones prepped to be bagged up on my way to the fountain machine I stopped to snap a photo. How a cone would be packaged for a to go order was fascinating to me and I loved how they used basically a Frappuccino cup with its bubble top lid to hold the cone upright. The straw hole at the top probably helps keeping it from getting all steamy and soggy. It was a really nifty idea, I thought.

I filled up my cup at the fountains, located a the far back, then picked a table up at the front to get some of that nice even, overcast light coming through the windows. My order took about 15 min to prep and deliver to my table. The cone was in a little wire frame to hold it up, and it was nicely constructed with each main ingredient on display at the top with a drizzle of ranch across it all. This was slightly messy to eat, but not nearly as messy as I thought it was going to be. The cone was crisp and it sort of wanted to crumble yet held on just long enough as I worked my way down. The bacon was very crisp and seemed like it was candied as it had some sweetness to it. The cone was loaded with chicken all the way down. Each bite-sized piece was fried perfectly with a thin, crisp batter that enclosed the tender and delicious chicken within.

The Cluck Yeah! consisted of a medium-sized tray with a layer or two of fries generously covered with the four different sauces and topped with more of that fantastic chicken. It should be noted that these are not their normal fries. Lauren explained how their vendor was out of the usual type they used (I think curly, might have been a waffle fry though) and she was not happy with these. I had to agree, they were just limp. The idea is good though, and the combo of flavors work well. Lauren insisted I return to try this again, on them, when they have the right fries, and I certainly will. I’ll add a little update to this in a week or so when I get a chance to stop by again.

Overall I was very happy with this. If the Cluck Yeah with proper fries is as good as I’m hoping, I would give this a solid 5/5. This shopping center continues to have stellar food options.

UPDATE! I tried the proper Cluck Yeah fries and they were night and day better, very crisp. Under the sheer amount of sauces they eventually succumbed to some sog, but that’s going to happen to any fry with enough time. I also tried out a different main, the Hot Honey but in a bowl (Millionaire’s Bacon, Green & Purple Cabbage, Fried Shshito Pepper, Mike’s Extra Hot Honey Sauce). The flavor on this was awesome and I loved the Shishito pepper. It was much more sweet than it was hot, despite the “extra hot” in the Mike’s Extra Hot Honey Sauce name. I wish there was more Shishitos in it, but that’s about all I would change.


#286: University of Beer

12PM, 1/8/2023


Hope no one blew away with the wind last night, it was wild! I was able to visit University of Beer before the storm hit for lunch while the weather was quite nice. University of Beer is located on Eureka at Lead Hill in the old Chili’s/Broderick location. We’ve had one of these nearby for a while over by the Blue Oak theaters. I recall when I first saw it I figured it was a huge chain that was just now making its way into our area. To my surprise it turned out to be a relatively small local chain. They have just six locations, the furthest out being Davis and Vacaville.

I’ve been to the Rocklin location a couple times when they were new there, and once to the Sacramento location for trivia. This was my first visit to Roseville’s UoB. One of the reasons I thought this was a chain was the sheer amount of money and effort that clearly goes into building one of these restaurants. Tons of decoration greet you before you have even stepped inside, intricate sculptures formed into beer cans and benches line the pathway to the front door. Inside the decoration fills most flat wall spaces. Hundreds of tap handles are mounted to the walls and ceilings along with sliced up kegs of various sizes. Light fixtures around the bar are made from sliced open beer and liquor bottles. Of all of this, the decoration that I appreciated the most was the little signpost showing all our local breweries. It’s a nice little reminder that this wasn’t a huge corporation that sent over a large container of their standard fixtures to be installed in store #978.

Anyway, I arrived right at noon, and grabbed a seat at the bar and started looking through the 40 or so beers they had on tap. They’ve got a nice mix of styles – IPAs, Stouts, Sours, Lagers, Pilsners, Wheats, Ales, Ciders and Belgians – something for everyone. I started off with the biggest IPA I could find: Juice Sr. from Great Notion, a hazy triple IPA that lives up to its name. This one ranks up there with some of my all time favorite IPAs, bursting with sweet tropical and citrus flavors that hide the sneaky 10.5% ABV. [$10 Goblet, I assume this is about 8oz]. I’m noticing now that they show two prices for all beers. The smaller price might be for flights. I initially thought it was a discounted price for members of their “Mug Club”, but the club page doesn’t say anything about a discount on individual orders, only upgrade specials on pints and some other unrelated benefits. Some clarification on the menu about what these two prices mean would be useful.

Moving on to the food, I hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours and I was ready to get stuffed. Before heading over I had picked out a monster burger and some jazzed up fries to go with it. This was the Beer-Battered Burger (beef patty deep-fried in craft beer-batter, Swiss cheese, citrus jalapeño aioli, topped with waffle fries and spicy ranch)[$20]. I’ve tried a lot of deep-fried things over the years but I think this might be the first burger. I upgraded the standard waffle fries to their Drunken Pig Fries for $5 (crispy waffle fries, beer-braised pulled pork, spicy jalapeño salsa, spicy ranch, melted cheese, sour cream, bacon, and cilantro).

My order took about 14 minutes to prepare and I ordered my second beer just before it arrived. This time I went with Curieux from Allagash, a bourbon barrel-aged Belgian Tripel ($10 Goblet). This was a much lighter beer than the IPA, a bit of a honey sweetness with a dry finish. In hindsight I think I should have ordered these the other way around to have Juice Sr. with the burger.

The upgraded fries were a great choice. The waffle fries were super crisp and stayed that way til the end even with all the toppings. The spicy ranch, bacon and pulled pork all stood out the most in this. The pork was super tender and flavorful. I see they offer this pork in taco and slider options as well.

Getting to the burger, this thing was hefty. The battered patty was golden brown and lent a ton of crispy, crunchy texture to every bite. It sat atop a nice big green leaf of lettuce and hid a couple slices of ripe tomato underneath. Swiss cheese was melted to the top of the patty and held a couple more waffle fries in place nicely. The fries, in turn, held onto the spicy ranch with their many nooks and crannies. This is a wild swing of a burger creation and I think it mostly succeeds. Perhaps the only change I would make is to swap out those fries with some fresh onions and avocado, but that’s partially because I already had waffle fries as a side. It was certainly filling and I cleaned the entire plate up and left very satisfied, again not eating anything for the rest of the day ;).

UoB is such a strange place because it’s so hard not to think of it as a gigantic chain with its meticulous branding and high level of polish. The service was on point throughout my visit. When a patron behind me spilled a drink, two employees sprang into action right away. And when two customers at the bar headed out, there were three staff members descending on the spot to clean up almost before they were out the door. I hope they do well here. I remember being absolutely shocked that Broderick didn’t make it in this location. It’s certainly not a high foot traffic area since it’s the only thing that’s not an office on this block. Maybe that nice big blue sign out front will help entice those driving by to check it out!