For our second burger on the taste test, we went to a heavy-hitter and a Madison institution: Dotty Dumpling's Dowry.
This legendary burger joint has moved a few times, now being located right on the UW Campus on Francis St. I had not been to Dottys since they moved from their location on Fairchild, so I was surprised to see that it had gone a bit upscale, with a hostess who greeted us and table service for the food. Previously, it was an order at the counter and wait for the runner to shout your name from service counter when your food was done.
I went fairly simple, but messy, with a burger medium rare with cheddar, grilled onions, ketchup and mayo. It came in at around $6. There were 6 of us today, with similar orders all around (except they were medium).
My girlfriend ordered a veggie burger, which was a composite of grains and certainly passable.
Dotty's uses ground chuck, which is generally accepted as the best choice for a burger. They are grilled on a char-broiler and service on a soft bun. The burgers were cooked to the right temperatures and served messy with condiments. This made for a good start but a messy finish that generally detracted from the full experience. It's tough to enjoy it when you have the tendency to shovel it in your mouth to keep it from all falling apart into your basket. In particular, the bottom bun dissolves away and can make it tough to eat (same results with the veggie burger, so it seems to be more about the wet condiments put on the bottom instead of the grease from the burger).
One of the guys, Rich, made a statement that his criteria for a rating is whether the burger patty itself would stand up as an entree served alone on a plate. He wouldn't necessarily pick this burger for that. Another team member, Chris, countered that the messiness is part of what made it a good burger.
Here are our ratings on a 10 scale:
Me - 6 (I was disappointed . . . I expected this to be the "gold standard" for our burger tests)
Kristine - 6 for her veggie burger
Rich - 6
Chris - 6
Ray - 4
Leah - 10. She repeated this rating several times, so perhaps a medium burger with American Cheese (the rest of us got cheddar), ketchup and pickles might have been the best way to eat it!