Playing Ketchup

Mayfield's Fatburger fails to make weight.

We don't eat burgers often -- our artery-clogger of choice is a juicy rib steak, thank you -- but we do have strong opinions about what makes for a good 'un. No matter how they're cooked, the best burgers are thick, juicy but not greasy, full of big, smoky flavors -- and are all about the meat, not the accessories.

In other words: a freshly ground, well-seasoned, not-too-lean patty, grilled medium over charcoal, then simply garnished with a thick slice of ripe tomato. Unfortunately, the only place we find those bad boys is on our backyard Weber. Failing that, the next-best options come from places like Foster's Tavern of Hinckley or Moxie.

Despite the hype, though, we haven't found anything like them at Red Robin, Brown Bag Burger, or even the newly arrived Fatburger. Better than Mickey D's? You betcha. Mind-blowing? Hardly.

In fact, a recent visit to the region's first Fatburger (1431 SOM Center Road, Mayfield Heights, 440-995-5020) was a yawner. The West Coast chain claims a cult following among celebs, but why that is remains a mystery. Lean, slightly overcooked, and somewhat dry, the beef in our 1/3-pound Fatburger was way less interesting than the toppings (which range from mustard to chili and a fried egg). Order it with bacon and cheese, as part of a Big Fat Deal (including ho-hum fries and a drink), and it'll set you back more than $9.

In comparison, a savory Moxie Burger -- certified Angus beef on challah, with artisanal cheddar, homemade aïoli, and fresh-cut fries -- is only $11.75. Then again, we probably couldn't go there in our flip-flops and a tattered Scene T-shirt.

Foreign exchange . . . After two years in Paris, Denajua is plotting her return to America. The founder and former owner of Ohio City's Le Oui Oui Café has picked out her bistro chairs; now she and husband Didier just need a place to put them. They're seeking out West Side digs for a new crêperie -- preferably someplace spacious, with room for sidewalk dining. "It won't be Le Oui Oui, but it will be full of our crazy humor, with a passionate menu and, of course, an ambiance that will reflect my creativity and the other city that I adore," she promises.

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