Adam Kuban, writing over at Serious Eats, takes on the mostly thankless task of choking down a sampler of cheeseburgers from various “casual dining” restaurants.

This is why blogs exist. Gourmet and Food & Wine writers have better things to do than hang out at Houlihan’s debating how much better its fresh Angus offering was than the over-salted piece of boot they call a hamburger over at Applebee’s.

Kuban tackles his task with an implausible amount of gusto, gamely presenting the highs (T.G.I. Friday’s: “Here was still some juiciness left in the beefy-tasting patty”) and the lows (Applebee’s: “It came out very well done and so over salted as to be almost inedible”) with equally heartfelt deadpan sincerity.

Coming down the pike: reviews of cheeseburgers at Ruby Tuesday, Bennigan’s, and Chili’s.

There’s a question hidden within the editorial folds of this masochistic blog quest—why are good fast-food burgers (In-N-Out, Culver’s, Fatburger) so much better than their midrange competitors?

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