By Megan Baxter
Megan Baxter’s series, “12 Last Meals in Greenville,” documents the food lover’s farewell to our city. Check back each week for the next installment.
Meal No. 3 – Golden Brown & Delicious
Burger and Fries
Driving through the Village of West Greenville on our way to Golden Brown & Delicious, I was reminded of a quote from Heraclitus, “Nothing endures but change.”
The hot midday sun filled the street, with blocks of shadow cast from the eves of the newly renovated storefronts on the main street. Couples window-shopped or drank iced coffees outside the Village Grind. Women took selfies in front of the colorful mural on the side of the Anchorage building. Families waited in line outside Carol’s Ice Cream.
For a year my office was located in West Greenville, and over the course of commutes and lunch-break walks, I watched the main street rebuild, demolish, polish, and shift. Only a few of the businesses busy on that warm weekend were open four years ago when we first drove through the area. Like much of Greenville itself, the ghosts of this old main street remain in brick and peeling murals. As the buildings came down, I watched as season after season of alterations were unearthed to the sun during the renovation. In the Village, this sense of change endures.
Fads, foodie and otherwise, will come and go, just like the businesses on that busy street. One constant will remain — the craving for a good hamburger. A hamburger resists change because of its simplicity. It’s easy food, easy to eat, easy to enjoy. Recently the hamburger has taken on all sorts of ridiculous fashion trends. Burgers have grown too tall to bite or come layered with 20 ingredients so that even the most discerning palate can’t keep them apart. Hamburgers are street food, and I like them best when they are dressed down.
The hamburgers at Golden Brown & Delicious are simply called “burgers” on the menu. Don’t let that fool you, though; GB&D is much more than a burger joint. It also serves up a wicked brunch and bone-warming ramen. The simple, counter-order restaurant quickly moves crowds that loop onto the streets. Inside, it mixes the stripped-down feel of remodeling with glamorous charm. Check out the dog portraits painted in the bathroom for a quick smile. But its friendly exterior hides a robust kitchen and a devoted food-fan base. According to its menu, the restaurant has served over 15,000 of its simple 4.5-ounce local beef “burger.”
This is my favorite burger in Greenville, and I was glad to return to GB&D for my last meal there and find it unchanged. I ordered it with a side of fries, described only as “golden brown and delicious.” It was late in the day, just a few minutes before closing, so the fries that came to me were extra crispy and brown from the fryer, like some lovely hybrid between fry and chip. The size of the plate, one burger and a heap of fries, was enough to finish without feeling overindulged. Four and a half ounces is small given the size of some modern burger monstrosities, and GB&D doesn’t mess around with a bucket load of toppings. The burger comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, special sauce, and a pickle. I could taste each of these in one bite. The brioche-style bun was both soft enough to compact in a bite and thick enough to soak up burger juices without mushing or crumbling.
I examined my burger after my first bite and found the local beef still perfectly pink in the center. I didn’t mind that fat dripped onto my fries, I simply dragged them through the golden-brown deliciousness. The price of a local burger (only $8!) speaks to the thriving agricultural community in the Upstate. This quality and availability so close to home surely will compel other restaurants to source locally. The story of food is the story of community and land as much as a narrative between people. Leaving the store and walking out onto the busy little street, I was filled with righteous decadence, having chosen this best burger for my lunch. While other foods come and go and buildings rise and fall in Greenville, I hope this burger always remains the same.