by James Coulter
My New Year’s resolution (which most other people commonly make) is to lose weight. More than two weeks in and I’ve succeeded in losing four pounds. So, what better way to celebrate than splurging on fast food? And what better place than Lake Wales’ newest (and hottest) burger joint?
Brake Burger Garage is the brain child of Dwyane McQuillen, owner of Crazy Fish Bar and Grill and Harry’s Old Place. Despite being someone who normally specializes in serving seafood, McQuillen wanted to open an eatery that, as What Now Orlando put it, “grills a better burger than the usual fast food offering.”
His idea manifested itself into Lake Wales’ newest burger joint, which, true to its name, is built inside an old gas station next door to Locorrito along US Highway 60. The eatery recently started with a test opening on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I (along with my publisher, Carl Fish) was one of the lucky “taste testers.”
Brake Burger Garage’s menu is typical burger joint fare: burgers, fries, chicken sandwiches and tenders. If you’re craving a burger that isn’t your run-of-the-mill McDonalds and Burger King, this new place will offer you something familiar with enough of a new kick and twist to make you at least want to give it a try—or even two.
During my visit on Tuesday evening, I decided to break my New Year’s resolution by ordering the eatery’s eponymous Brake Burger with grilled onions, pickles, and signature Brake Sauce (more on that later) with a side of waffle fries and cole slaw. I also added jalapenos because I like my food with an extra kick.
I also placed an order for loaded waffle fries as an appetizer. I had the option to top those fries with bacon, beef, or chicken, but I didn’t want to break my resolution that badly (or break the servers there that busy evening with extra ingredients).
Glancing over the menu, I was tempted to order some of the spicy chicken sandwiches, especially the Nashville Chicken tenders. However, as this is a burger joint, it was only proper to judge it based on its burgers. (But if the chicken is anything like the Nashville Chicken at Locorrito next door, then I’m sure they were finger-licking good!)
Both the burger and loaded fries were served with the signature Brake Sauce, a tangy mayo-based sauce with cumin, onion, and chili powder. The best comparison I can make is either to Guy Ferrari’s Donkey Sauce or to Zaxby’s signature sauce–enough of a tang to kick it a real kick but not too spicy to set your mouth blazing.
As for the burger patty, it was equal parts meaty and greasy. In other words, the best kind of diner-style burger, seeping with enough finger-licking grease to make you thankful you’re eating it in an absorbent-enough bun. Though diners be warned: the grease does drip, so make sure you’re eating it over your fries and not over your shirt.
The best way I can describe the burger is that it’s about the size and quality of a Checker’s or Culver’s burger served with the greasy, smash-burger goodness of Five Guy’s and with a tangy sauce like Zaxby’s. In other words, excellent!
As for the overall atmosphere, I admit, judging it based on a busy test eater’s evening is slightly unfair. In its favor, the setting inside and old garage with hubcaps and car logos on the walls has very rustic, old-school burger joint feel.
However, you can tell it was built inside an old gas station with its small dining room that holds a handful of tables. Because of the busy evening, customers were asked to wait ten minutes before being assigned a seat. I doubt it will be that busy moving forward, but unless they plan on adding outdoor seating, I’m curious whether they will be able to accommodate the lunch hour rush.
The only major complaint I have (or rather, minor complaint) are the condiments. As a typical burger joint, each table offers the standard salt and pepper shakers with ketchup and mustard. The only thing missing was a small bottle of hot sauce (like tabasco). This is just me, but I prefer having the option to spice up my meal. At the very least, I was able to order an extra side of Brake Sauce, which is nice.
Overall, Brake Burger Garage certainly makes me want to slam on the brakes next time I pass by in Lake Wales. The selection may be slim for now, but what little they have packs real old-fashioned burger joint flavor. You’ll certainly want to put the pedal to the metal and head over there to give it a chance.
Now, if you excuse me, I have four extra pounds to re-lose and a resolution to unbreak.
Brake Burger Garage is located along 206 E. State Rd 60, Lake Wales, FL 33853. For more info, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100076151152963