Burger at Shady Glen

I Feel Shady Eating Cow
360 Middle Tpke W, Manchester, CT

As CTMQ readers probably know, I don’t eat dead cows (or pigs or goats for that matter). However, for the vastly important purposes of the blog, I’ve cast aside my aversion to the meat industry (really, I don’t care about the cows themselves so much) in an effort to sample Roadfood’s Connecticut entries into the “500 Things To Eat Before It’s Too Late.”

That said, what do I know about burgers? I hadn’t eaten one for over 9 years, so take my reviews with a grain of salt… And a sprinkle of pepper.

Shady Glen features prominently on the blog – for its ice cream and awesome fried cheese as well as its burgers. Of course, as anyone will tell you, the burgers land on this list (and also Esquire Magazine’s “Best Burgers in the Land” List* mainly because of the wondrous fried cheese array that tops each burger.

*Note: I didn’t eat the burger during my first visit for the Esquire thing. Yes, I know it’s completely silly to have a separate post for this, but it’s my blog.

The Roadfood Experience:

“What’s good to eat?” we ask the uniformed waitress when she steps to our booth.

“You are at Shady Glen,” she responds like a schoolteacher addressing especially slow students. “At Shady Glen, you must have cheeseburgers!”

Amen to that good advice. Although this fine old dairy bar has a menu of sandwiches and hot meals and is justly famous for its homemade ice cream, its way with cheeseburgers is nothing short of spectacular. The meat is not extraordinary and the cheese is merely tasty, but assemble the two of them together on the Shady Glen grill and magic happens. Three or four slices of cheese are carefully placed in a mosaic that extends far beyond the edges of the burger as it cooks, so the cheese melts directly onto the surface of the grill, turning chewy and crisp as it cooks. The hamburger with its soft cheese on top and its halo of textured cheese all around is hefted onto a bun to become one memorable sandwich!

A boat of condiments is brought to every table — relish, mustard, ketchup, raw onions — and tomatoes and lettuce are available if you want to be deluxe. Good slaw and French fries come on the side of a cheeseburger plate…

The CTMQ Experience:

First of all, Damian’s “child’s plate” of grilled cheese was about as hearty as my burger plate. Ridiculous… Anyway, how did the burger taste?

I must say it tasted like the burgers my mom made for us when I was a kid. The funny thing is, I can’t determine if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. My mom is a good enough cook, and I always enjoyed her burgers once I stopped saying that McDonald’s were better. But really, if it weren’t for that ridiculously awesome fried cheese on top, the actual meat wouldn’t be anything too special.

But Shady Glen IS a special place. Straight out of Happy Days, you half expect The Fonz to come out of the bathroom to punch the juke box. So for that alone, Shady Glen is always worth a visit.

I don’t know how they do it, but this is how they fry the cheese.

Shady Glen via

CTMQ Eats through Roadfood’s Best of List

One response to “Burger at Shady Glen”

  1. Eileen Storrs says:

    My Uncle Raymond Storrs introduced two generations of our family to this wonderful place back in the early ’50s. Being a country kid, there wasn’t a whole lot to do apart from running the woods & participating in such things as 4-H Club. Every Friday night, Uncle Ray loaded us up in his Chevy & took us to Shady Glen for the meal of our choice. We all chose this terrific cheese burger & topped it off with their out-of-this-world sundae. We lived for those Friday nights & the occasion never lost it’s excitement for us. The tradition was passed down & retained it’s element of anticipation for all of us. When Uncle Ray died, even those at Shady Glen missed him. They sent flowers to the church & I remember thinking how appropriate it was that they be there for him. They were always there for him & for us. Shady Glen is an institution & has retained it’s quality example for all of these years. It’s “magic” alright. Thank you all!!

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