Versions of Weird, From r.g. Burgers to Clint Eastwood
August 31, 2012
The line between good weird and bad weird can be as fine as floss.
First: r.g. Burgers of Carmel Crossroads (626-8054). (There's also the Monterey outpost next to Trader Joe's downtown, 372-4930.)
The visit was long overdue, as Weekly readers have been urging me that way by virtue of years of voting in the Best of Monterey County readers poll: r.g. has taken tops in town repeatedly.
I expected seriously sturdy burgers, but not this sort of onslaught of choices. And certainly not a Nutella milkshake.
The choices go beyond 21 burger styles like the "Firehouse" with cajun spices, pepper jack, jalapeños and hot sauce ($9.95) and the "Hickory" with barbecue sauce, cheddar and bacon ($9.25).
You can double the burger ($2.95), make it bison (add $2.25), ground turkey (same), chicken breast ($0.95) or falafel ($0.95).
You can lay it on a classic, nine-grain wheat or onion bun, or wrap it in lettuce.
Additions like grilled pineapple, fried egg and grilled onions are in play, then there's a pick of 12 sides ranging from mushroom-brown rice to mini wedge salad (add $1).
Then there's the selection of non-burger plates, from the r.g. cheese shot starters (battered parmesan-mozzarella with ranch, $8.95) and bacon-cheese dog ($8.50) to the teriyaki eggplant melt ($8.95) and sesame chicken salad ($12.95).
The public list of milkshakes ($4.95) and malts ($5.50) is vast itself: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, root beer, coffee, orange freeze, chocolate raspberry, PB&J, cinnamon, cookies & cream, mint chip and blueberry among the 22.
But then there's the glory hidden from sight, off-menu, like the black and white or the Nutella wonder, a surprisingly subtle, slightly chocolate-nutty, smooth, creamy deal.
In other words, good weird—especially with a rich and messy béarnaise burger on an onion bun and superbly battered onion rings. (The guacamole-Swiss with bacon, $10.45 was the better burger, though.)
Then came Carmel's Clint Eastwood, the former Carmel-by-the-Sea mayor and closing night star for the Republican National Convention who put the surprise in "surprise speaker."
He was supposed to go for 5 minutes, and instead logged 12 that felt like 20 for audiences and 112 for Republican party leaders.
"Clint has now eclipsed the total word count of his last three films," tweeted film critic Richard Roeper, after the first few.
His dialogue with an empty chair pulled up next to him was designed to simulate a conversation with President Barack Obama.
The only more awkward part than Eastwood saying everyone was crying, even Oprah and himself, when Obama was elected, then following by saying unemployed figures really make him cry, which registered cheers (?!) from the crowd, was when his imagined back-and-forth with the furniture got cussy.
"I can't tell [Mitt Romney] to do that to himself," Clint said to the chair. "You're absolutely crazy."
@InvisibleObama was instantly launched and already has tens of thousands of followers. Actor Zachary Quinto tweeted "Is this a segment for `Mrs. Eastwood and Company'?," the E! reality series starring Eastwood's wife, Dina. The best comment I saw online last night came right around then: "That chair is the most reasonable thing at this convention. How do we nominate it? Chair 2012."
Bad weird. Glad I (over)ate before.