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We forgot one. Of all the burgers celebrated a couple weeks ago in this blog, and in the on-line readers’ poll leading up to it, you and I overlooked what might be the best burger of all. It’s a short ride up Interstate 395, or Route 12 if you want the scenic route, and it is worth the trip.
It’s called The 395 Pile Up, and you can find it—for a measly $3.95—in Plainfield at Hank’s Dairy Bar, which opened 52 years ago this week, on June 26, 1957.
The Pile Up starts out as a cheeseburger, but then they pile on some of Hank’s own coleslaw, a few pickle slices, French fries, and ketchup, all on a lightly toasted roll. It’s held together with one of those toothpick thingies.
When the girl who grilled mine handed it to me through the pick-up window, she leaned over and peered at it for a couple seconds up close—maybe to make sure she’d stacked it just right, or maybe to admire it one last time before I wolfed it down, which I did.
Words cannot do it justice; you will have to taste the Pile Up for yourself. But as sure as I am that the sky is blue, I know that I will never forget this burger even if I don’t make the trip up the road for it again and again, which I most assuredly will.
The coleslaw adds a tang and a crunch that together make music. Without the slaw, this would be a good burger, but with it, it is a masterpiece. The Zurowski family, which has owned Hank’s right along, prides itself on its coleslaw and closely guards the recipe.
Along with Harry’s in Colchester and David’s Place in Chesterfield (read this week’s review), Hank’s forms a triangle of cheap, can’t-miss roadside burger and ice cream stands in eastern Connecticut. While it’s debatable which one is best, you can’t beat the local charm and stories that help make Hank’s a Plainfield institution.
The day they opened more than half a century ago, for example, was also the day Hank and Alice Zurowski welcomed a new son into the world. And in 1980, an employee there, Alan St. Jean, wrote his name into the Guinness Book of World Records for the speed at which he peeled 50 pounds of onions.
Hank’s hosts plenty of entertainment, including music on the weekends. If this blog has served to whet your appetite, then consider visiting the place this Saturday, June 27, when they host an artisan and craft fair and bluegrass band Bubblin’ Crude (12 to 4 p.m.). Wish Hank’s a happy 52nd birthday, and for Pete’s sake, don’t forget to order The 395 Pile Up. Let us know what you think.
Check out Hank’s at www.hanksdairybar.com or call (860) 564-2298.