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Culvers - East Bay Drive  — My Favorite

Better Fresher Food at Competitive Prices”

I have to include Culvers in the burger wars because I find I go there for burgers more than the other places besides Five Guys. Frankly the clown and the King know little about good food and offer corporate food.  Food is essential to good health, but good food and fast food sometimes do not appear in the same time continuum. 

I live in Largo, Florida and I do write about the fast food industry. According to a prominent survey by a nationally known consumer magazine, 100,000 replies, residing across the US the goal was to ascertain the ten best and the ten worst fast food establishments. Based on the food, cleanliness, employee conduct, appeal and so forth.

All ten of the worst fast food joints had heavy representation in Tampa Bay.  Even an idiot would understand that for some reason our area gets the worst. So, whats the story on the ten best.  Well, the ten best as voted by “ The eaters” only four had representation in Tampa Bay. To me this reinforced my mantra, that caused me to start writing a food column locally ten years ago. 

Tampa has a long way to go. Last week I wrote about Jason's Deli from the good list and it was excellent. It was one of the four on the good list. Culver's is the second establishment of the four in Tampa Bay and it was a delightful experience. So far the survey has proven correct.

Being new, the place was clean, tables turning fast, the help was helpful walking me through the slightly different menu and cliche names.  So far, so good. The food delivered to the table is a nice thought as kids sometimes need to be all in one place at one time.  This location just opened a couple weeks ago one of several new to Florida and it’s the usual shake down cruise, more customer questions, the help knew whats happening, a sign of good training, the customers were the noobs and getting to know the product can slow things.  I got to sit down with the owner Parish and he explained what Culvers was all about.

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A new menu to decipher with the emphasis on fresh, they own their own produce and appealing totally different from the corporate stores and their regimented corporate food.  It’s an adult place the kids will like because of the good food and no kids rides, you order at the counter and then its cooked, served hot and fresh, and delivered to your table by the help. 

Again, the Butterburger, their trademark had a lot more taste than the usual servings by the Clown, the King, and the little Girl. How novel ! It didn’t have that freshly microwaved precooked taste.

Custard, a lot more manageable on the palate than ice cream is another trademark. I never thought I would say that. A staple in this chain, not an add-on like some of the other places. They have a new flavor every day and I had the flavor of the day, Amaretto with strawberries on top and my gal had the strawberry on strawberry. And for a whole ten minutes I didn't hear a word from her, she was in paradise. They actually have a flyer they have on the counters showing the monthly custard flavor schedules by day. 

It is next to the take out menu and something I have not seen before in a fast food place, an elaborate, very well put together booklet of every item on the menu and the items incorporated within. They are obviously proud of their suppliers and their quality and most interesting was a section on the menu for the gluten free foods they serve. I volunteer as a care giver and hard to find gluten free diets recognized by our Dr.s in Stem Cell and Immune Diseases, and this is good to know. 

They are new on the East coast of the US and West coast of Florida but just standing outside listening and asking total strangers what did you think of the Culver’s experience and I got back about 99.9% very satisfied,  and will return.  I have done this before at other branded restaurants and been told “Don’t bother, save your money, and we turned around and didn’t go in, we went elsewhere.” That was that bad. 

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The 100,000 critics were right. A little different, but a good place to eat. With a Taco Bell, A Burger King, a McDonalds and a Wendy surrounding it,  all with empty parking lots, the Culvers was mobbed.  Viva la good food!

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