4618 Eastern Ave.
One of the guilty pleasures in our household is the Travel Channel program “Man vs. Food” with Adam Richman. For those who aren’t familiar with the program, Richman travels around the United States tackling the biggest food challenges in the country. He attempts to eat a 72 oz. steak in Amarillo, takes a hot wing challenge in Pittsburgh and scarfs down a 2½ lb. deli sandwich in Columbus, to name a few.
It was the Sasquatch Hamburger Challenge in Memphis, however, that really got my husband fired up. He wanted to know why Cincinnati didn’t have a great homemade burger like they showed on TV. He wasn't looking for a mammoth-sized burger like the Sasquatch, just a really great homemade burger - the kind that America is supposed to be famous for.
“Oh,” I said, “but I believe we do. I keep hearing good things about the burgers at Terry’s Turf Club. Word is they put all others to shame." He was suitably intrigued.
I wasn’t sure whether or not Terry’s would have anything vegetarian, but I figured if nothing else I’d be able to eat a salad or some fries. Even if there was nothing for me, it’d be worth the visit if Steve found a burger that met his high expectations.
The restaurant sits in a rather industrial-looking area opposite an abandoned warehouse, but don’t let that put you off. Open the door and take a step back in time – the inside houses a scintillating array of neon signs, vintage posters and antique bric-a-brac from Cincinnati’s brewing heyday. Schoenling, Wiedemann, Burger, and Hudepohl are all well-represented here in spirit (but not in stock). Authentic 1950’s Bevador coolers still keep the beer frosty cold too – and what a fine selection of beer it is. Microbrews are well represented here alongside imports and American staples. Not in a beer mood? Terry’s also offers wine and spirits, colas, fresh-squeezed juices and non-alcoholic “homemade elixirs.”
The staff is friendly and accommodating, and even first timers like us were treated like old friends. We snacked on complimentary baseball park peanuts whilst perusing the menu, which vegetarians will be happy to know has TWO vegetarian burger options: a portobello burger and a shitake burger. Vegetarians should note that both meat and non-meat items are grilled on the same surface, and although the cooks try to grill the meats in one area and the veggie in another, there can be co-mingling.
All burgers are made to order and come with a choice of standard toppings one would expect of a burger: lettuce, tomato, onion (sautéed or raw), pickles, banana peppers, mayo and American or Swiss cheese. For a small upcharge, however, the real fun begins. Terry’s offers an appealing variety of toppings and specialty sauces. Try the amazing Burgundy wine with wild mushrooms and truffle, or roasted red pepper & goat cheese. There’s also mango curry, peanut sauce w/ roasted garlic, and even a ginger blackberry sauce. The one that most piqued my interest was the Mango Tequila Jalapeno sauce, which sounds gorgeous.
I ordered the shitake burger, thinking it would be easier to handle than the portobello, but it didn’t matter - these are big messy burgers that require two hands and a tower of napkins. Maybe it’s an English thing, but Steve abhors eating without cutlery, so he had a hard time of it until a staff member took pity and brought out a giant knife to chop the sandwich down to manageable bites, and a set of plastic cutlery to maintain order. After that, he loved it.
I had no such qualms about diving in mouth-first, and came up for air swimming in a sea of slippery mushroom caps, mayonnaise and sloppy tomato juices. Good thing the Shadeau Bakery buns are up to the rigorous task of holding the whole thing together. Potato chips are the standard side, but do yourself a favor and go for the fresh-cut fries, which are amazing. The restaurant also offers gelato (three scoops for $3.50 or one scoop for $1.50) but sadly we hadn't any room left for dessert on this visit.
Terry’s Turf Club is open for dinner seven days, and at noon on Saturday and Sunday. The place is hopping nearly all the time and live music on the weekends makes it even moreso. Arrive early or be prepared to wait.