Children are brutally honest. Incapable of buffering words, they rarely hold back judgment.
Recognizing this potential, I decided to recruit a young apprentice -- my friend's 4-year-old daughter, Madelyn -- to accompany me on a trip to Molly's Burgers in Arlington.
Knowing that kids' diets consist of mainly chicken nuggets and ice cream, I knew it'd be a risky venture to recruit a youngster. At the very least, I hoped Maddy could grade one item from the children's menu for my report.
Conspicuously placed next to a gym, Molly's Burgers looks like an old diner, with park-style benches and red chairs.
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The menu is simple, divided into burgers, specialty burgers and "Chicken & Other Stuff," along with a section of side items and kid food, like chicken nuggets (go figure). For the sinners, there are dessert offerings of ice cream and shakes ($1.99-$2.89) in more than eight flavors, including birthday cake, cherry vanilla (score), chocolate and cotton candy.
The Molly ($5.99) is the restaurant's signature burger, with a hefty combination of bacon, cheddar cheese, hot dogs, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and spicy mayonnaise slammed atop a 1/3-pound patty. The bacon, the addition of hot dogs and the mayonnaise made it a savory mess. Chances are you'll be lying on the floor in a digestive-induced paralysis after scarfing it down.
Opposite from me, Maddy covered her hot dog and fried pickles ($2.99) with ranch dressing from one of our burgers. It was clear she was on the path to a serious ranch addiction. She insisted that the hot dog was the best she has ever had.
Back at the adult table, we were presented with the gargantuan triple double ($6.99). With half a pound of beef and a double-shot of bacon and cheese, it is the perfect candidate for curing a hangover or ending world hunger. Try it with pepper Jack cheese for an extra twinge.
The peppercorn ranch burger ($5.19), another 1/3-pounder, was topped with A.1. steak sauce, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, peppercorn ranch dressing and an onion ring. The sauce and battered ring were a good complement, offsetting the dressing. Overall, I favored the balance of this burger above the rest.
All three burgers were juicy and cooked well, enough to satisfy most burger junkies.
The classic BLT ($3.99) looked more like a burger than a sandwich. Pieces of crispy bacon, shredded lettuce and tomato mingled with mayonnaise served on a bun instead of toast. Not really "classic," but we liked Molly's take on it nonetheless.
In an absurd attempt to break the record for overindulgence, we decided to sample some of the menu's side items. The fries ($1.69) were dull and limp, the onion rings were crispy and well-seasoned ($1.99), and the Cajun tater tots ($2.19) were a unique option but overseasoned. Fried pickles ($1.99) were also wimpy.
At the end our meal, we tried two shakes, the chocolate and the birthday cake. Both tasted like chocolate and prompted Maddy to proclaim her inability to experience brain freeze, like "the old people." After downing more than half of the shake, she went into an irrepressible state of hyperactivity. On the way home, Maddy's mother, Kelly, called to say that Maddy was having uncontrollable fits of laughter. That's the sound of success.