Old School Burgers @ Their Best: Cherry Street East

Jeff "jfood" Schlesinger

Photo Credit: Natasha Montero“Déjà vu all over again” – Yogi Berra

In April 2006, Cherry Street East suffered the greatest catastrophe that can strike any business when it became engulfed in flames. A total loss; many loyal patrons stared at the charred remains of their local pub, their beloved hangout, and the place that since 1977 had served one of the best burgers in Fairfield County. Cherry Street East was a piece of the fiber of the New Canaan community and patrons were concerned that Cherry Street East would become a distant memory.  In a true tribute to the owners John and Mary Bergin, the local residents formed an alliance with the owners to reconstruct an exact replica of the original building. The eclectic clientele returned and include local business people sharing an appetizer and burger for lunch, several regulars holding court, and families out for a burgers and fries dinner. 

With the building rebuilt to its former glory would the legendary burgers return?

Photo Credit: Natasha MonteroThe 8-ounce burgers are ground daily on the premises and then hand formed taking great care to keep the integrity of the meat intact, you still see the grind of the meat.  Upon order, each burger is cooked on a gas fired indoor grill, with individual dedication to assure every burger is cooked to the desired doneness. I prefer my burgers with a full pink interior, and in every instance, it arrives perfectly prepared. The half-pound size allows for a nice thick presentation, and it is fully capable of handling any of the numerous combinations of toppings that are available to satisfy any desire. Start with a great burger and then build to perfection. You can mix and match from the twenty different toppings including traditional tomato, lettuce, grilled peppers and onions plus guacamole, jalapeno peppers and salsa. The bacon cheeseburger includes two slices of American Cheese, which adds the desired creaminess (several other cheese choices are available including Swiss, Cheddar, Jack and Smoked Mozzarella); the bacon brings the smokiness and saltiness, and a couple of slices of half-sour pickles are a delightful complement  

Photo Credit: Natasha MonteroMy customized bacon-cheeseburger arrives with two slices of cheese and crispy bacon atop the burger, and all are encased in a large Kaiser roll. Upon the delicious first bite you will understand why people love the Cherry Street East burger. The meat has a great flavor, full, rich, reminiscent of all the burgers you love when you grill at home. While the Kaiser roll is the standard fare, I recommend the English muffin. The additional flavor of the muffin adds a little sharpness to the burgers deep flavor and I find the rolls a little too bland for my taste.

The other item that is outstanding at Cherry Street East are the house cut onion rings. Each morning pounds of onions are hand cut and readied for the day. The coating is light and crispy and the onions are soft and wonderful. They arrive unsalted, but each table is equipped with individual salt and pepper grinders. A lunch of a burger and onion rings in this friendly establishment is one of the best ways to spend a lazy afternoon.

Photo Credit: Natasha MonteroCherry Street East also serves both russet and sweet potato fries. Like the onion rings, they arrive unsalted, but a few twists of the S&P shakers and the fries are ready for a quick dip into some ketchup (malt vinegar also available). They are prepared when ordered to create a perfectly fresh product, each with some skin and each deep-fried to a glorious finish. The russets are mild in flavor, and if you would like little more flavor, then the sweet potato fries are what should be ordered. The latter are skinnier and have just a slight amount of sweetness. Care must be taken on the first bite as the fries arrived incredibly hot.

The delectable burgers, onion rings, and fries can be accompanied by a selection of six beers on tap including Bass, Bud Light, Guiness, Sierra Ale, Photo Credit: Natasha MonteroSmithwick’s Ale, and Stella. In addition, several choices of beer are available in bottles. The always occupied bar offers three strategically placed TV’s broadcasting sports, CNN, ESPN or MSNBC. There are eight small, 2-person tables plus eight booths to serve a total of fifty patrons. An upstairs dining room is also available. The atmosphere is extremely relaxed, engaging and friendly. The staff has been there for years and treats everyone like a member of the family.

Cherry Street East is a destination spot for a great hamburger. If you are in the mood for a great hand formed, perfectly cooked burger with a side of fries and some house prepared onion rings, then Cherry Street East is a great place to satisfy your craving.

Cherry Street East 45 East Ave, New Canaan 203. 594.1515