I had been aware of We’re Cooking since it opened a few years back, but for some reason, I always had a vague notion that it was some sort of family-style cafeteria. Investigating their website recently disabused me of that misconception, and seeing that all-American fare like burgers and sandwiches was their specialty, I decided to bump it to the top of the list.
The Grub Spouse and I set out for We’re Cooking on a recent weeknight and found our way to Peters Road, just a few doors down from the defunct Circuit City. The inside is actually pretty eye-catching. The color scheme is bright and playful, the furnishings have a funky-modern aesthetic, and the walls are adorned with numerous black-and-white photo prints.
The Spouse and I entered the queue and spent a few moments digesting the manageably sized menu. Burgers are the main attraction, and I weighed the merits of four different signature burgers, including the Southern Treat, made with cole slaw, chili and onions; the Tennessee Choice, made with chili, caramelized onions and a host of condiments; and the Swisskie, made with Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms and onions.
You can also custom-order a burger to your liking using a variety of standard toppings, but I chose the signature Up State burger, made with caramelized onions, mustard and American cheese. You can also choose from three different sizes, and I went with the smallest, the quarter-pound burger ($4).
Other selections include all-beef hot dogs and a number of chicken-based sandwiches, such as Cajun Boom-Boom Chicken, San Antone Blackened Chicken, a couple of chicken filet clubs and a chicken strip basket. A handful of salads and fried-food baskets round out the menu.
The Spouse got the Italian Chicken Parmigiano ($5), which is topped with mayo, marinara sauce and provolone cheese. We decided to share a large order of onion rings ($4.95), and I added a chocolate shake to satisfy my sweet tooth.
When we were finally ready to order, the young lady working the register seemed less than enthused about her job. The Spouse agreed with me later than the girl was brimming with attitude that, in my opinion, bordered on surly. It was one of those situations, where the employee acts like she or he is doing you a huge favor to take care of your needs.
She handed us a pager, and after a few minutes, it lit up and buzzed, and we went up to the counter to fetch our order.
I thought the burger was actually pretty good, except for the fact that it was slathered in way too much mustard. A little bit of mustard goes a long way, and this liberal application went a little too far and overpowered what I think would have been a very enjoyable burger otherwise. On the other hand, I thought the chicken sandwich was solid all the way, delivering a nice, classic Parmigiano flavor combo. The onion rings, however, were bland and unimpressive. It was obvious that they had been kept frozen and not freshly prepared.
The so-called milkshake was tasty enough but so thick that you could not suck it up through a straw. My straw kept collapsing, so I finally ate the treat with a spoon. As far as I’m concerned, if a shake is so thick, you can’t drink it through a straw, then it’s no longer a shake. What you have there, my friend, is soft-serve ice cream. But please don’t call it a shake.
I think We’re Cooking has the potential to be a fun place to eat for those who crave standard American staples like burgers, fries and shakes. But as they say, the devil is in the details, and in this case, We’re Cooking is still wrestling with a few demons.
Food: 3.5 stars (out of five)
Address: 159 N. Peters Road
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays
Beer service only
Dept. of Health score: 100
Bottom Line: All-American goodies like burgers, dogs, fries, shakes and more can be found at this West Knoxville grill.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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