Being a hamburger connoisseur it’s always a delight when my editor assigns the newest burger incarnation for my review. So last week, my intrepid burger editor, Rob Greenbaum and I ventured to The Castaways – sort of our annual semi-scientific experiment to burgerology. This place is all attitude, from the pierced-and-tattered-up waitstaff to their 20 plus burger varieties. sirloin half-pounders that are flamed-grilled and then garnished with almost everything imaginable, including peanut butter. Yep, peanut butter!! Perhaps it’s location at the Golden Shores Marina explains the owner’s choice of decoration, keeping with the theme. The decor is of a tropical island motif with bamboo walls, large fronds everywhere and fishermen’s netting hanging from the ceiling. The only thing missing was piped in ukulele music. The waitstaff, was quite attentive, but we agreed the bar needs more creative drinks to compliment the large variety of burgers, especially on open mic nights.
The Castaways is the first place I’ve visited outside of Charleston to go all crazy with burger names and WTH-caliber toppings. Castaways rolls out their version of a pastrami burger with Gruyere, caramelized onion, Russian dressing, pickles and (according to Rob) a thick, difficult-to-chew, hard slab of pastrami. I ordered a medium rare, no bells or whistles sirloin burger which arrived after about a 15 minute wait. The texture of the five-ounce patty itself was the best part of the burger. Well-ground, pleasantly chewy and meaty without being mushy. The most powerful element came from the grill, which added distinct char marks and a smoky, grilled flavor. Sadly, the burger was unseasoned. It was unremarkable, tasting like one of the bland backyard burgers cooked up on a summer Saturday. Also the homemade broiche buns is just a touch too dense. Castaways also has the ubiquitous chili, buffalo and Hawaiian versions and the salmon or veggie burgers for vegetarians and vegans. Lastly, The Fat Elvis (for children I hope), the menu says it features bacon, fried bananas and peanut butter. UGH!!!
There are two areas where Castaways is a run away hit. One is a poutine: a gift from our northern neighbors, the Canadians. They offer a pile of perfect fries drowning in gravy, cheese curds and huge chucks of pastrami that are rave-worthy, this is the stuff of secret food fantasies. Also Castaways has a great novice band that if they continue to play so well won’t be available for such a small venue for long. Come in for the music and fries, sample their very forgettable burgers, their prices are quite reasonable and they are local.