February 20, 2009

The Glenwood Pines: A Feat of Strength

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Howdy! My name is Eric Pearson and I have been an avid cook since I was four-years-old. Being from Manhattan, I was fortunate enough to have access to a wide variety of restaurants through which I could expand my culinary horizons. Ithaca doesn’t offer the variety of food to which I am accustomed and I often pine for my favorite Malaysian and Ethiopian delights, but to no avail. Luckily, the kitchen is a safe haven for food and in this blog I will expound upon a multitudinous array of recipes from a diverse set of cuisines including French, Italian, Spanish, American, and South American and where to find the ingredients for these dishes. I will also point out the flaws of most restaurant varieties of these dishes and how to avoid these mistakes. Finally, I may review a few select restaurants and my experiences with them. I hope you enjoy the blog and happy eating!

As a Junior who had never been to the Glenwood Pines before, I had often heard stories of the famous Pinesburger, but had neglected to actually try one. Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to go there with a few of my friends. It is a bit harder to get to than most places in Ithaca, and you definitely need a car since no buses travel there, but the trip is worth it.
When I opened the front door to the Pines, I was greeted with the thick savory aroma of beef and fat and the sound of archaic arcade machines. From looking around at the fellow patrons, I could tell that carb-counters were not welcome here. The first floor was too small for our party of eight, so we walked downstairs to get to the larger dining room that was filled with tables for seating eight.
I read through the menu and immediately knew what I was going to get. Though the menu had succulent steaks such as the Delmonico, I chose the 4 Pinesburger Challenge. The challenge is to eat four of their six ounce cheeseburgers in one hour. As I waited for the burgers, I grew increasingly more anxious and uncomfortable while I sat at the large minimalist wood table on a hard wood chair. After the food arrived though, I was glad I waited.
In Ithaca, if you like your burgers rare and juicy, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an acceptable burger. I never thought that they were such a rare delicacy until I came here. At the Pines, they do burgers right. Mine were pink, juicy, and flavorful. The French bread soaked up the juices of the burger as well as the sauces lathered on it (your choice of 1000 island, mayo, or ketchup) to make a delicious combination along with the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Twenty four ounces is a lot of beef, and by my third burger I started slowing down. The fourth one took forever.
My friends were obsessed with Takeru Kobayashi and they kept telling me to use all of his tricks. I ate the patty first and then started on the bread, which I dipped a small piece of in water. Don’t dip bread in water if you plan to eat it. It tastes heinous. Our waitress came back after I finished the bread and told me my time was thirty six minutes. She took my picture and put it on the wall of past winners (there are too many to keep them all up at the same time, so only the past few hundred are up) and gave me a free shirt that said on the front, “famous…” and “mamma I ate 4 [picture of burger]” was written on the back. The bill wasn’t on the house though, leading me to believe that the competition is just a great marketing ploy to get people to pay for more than what they really need to/would eat.
Aside from the competitive aspect, the Glenwood Pines is still a great place to eat. They have a large selection of great food and their burgers are the best I’ve had by far in Ithaca. The atmosphere leaves something to be desired and I wouldn’t recommend going there if you plan to have loud obnoxious conversations because it’s a family place for townies. There were always little children staring at us whenever we said something they didn’t understand and that was a bit tiresome. So if you want a great burger and don’t mind a family atmosphere, go to the Glenwood Pines.