Sliders Burgers and Belgian Fries is recent addition to a strip mall just outside of Western Michigan University’s campus in Kalamazoo. It’s apparently the second store the company has opened, with the other also in a college town. Sliders is part of a growing trend of “classic” burger joints with a cleaner, healthier environment, like The Real Deal or Five Guys. What sets them apart, obviously, is their focus on smaller slider burgers. I posted some thoughts on the merit of sliders back in the stone age. Let’s see if my feelings toward them have changed!

What is the impossible secret of this rainbow of tiny cups of sauces? Read on, true believer!!

What is the impossible secret of this rainbow of tiny cups of sauces? Read on, true believer!!

The sliders here are actually larger than I expected. A slider combo comes with two of them, dressed with a selection of free toppings like lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and Ketchup. Cheeses, bacon and Jalapenos can be added for an extra fee. I decided on pickles and caramelized onions, which came together pretty well. The sliders were well-made, generous in size for smaller sandwiches but not so large as to be filling by themselves.They were good, but a little monotonous.

Sliders also prides themselves on their Belgian Fries, a kind of double fried steak fries served with course-grain salt. I know that fries are a little outside this blog’s purview, but go with me on this. The fries themselves are fine, but the real draw is that Sliders has a wide selection of dipping sauces to try, with special rotating menus. This is literally the restaurant idea I came up with as a kid and have always dreamed of. I’d be mad that someone stole my dream, but realistically I was never going to do it, and at least now people can enjoy it. The sauces are great, especially a Rosemary Garlic sauce that tastes almost Middle Eastern and a sweet, spicy barbeque sauce reminiscent of McDonald’s BBQ sauce in the early 90’s. (I realize this last sentence is probably the most stupidly pretentious thing I’ve ever written, but I have very specific memories of what BBQ sauce tasted like a Mickey D’s when I was six.) Anyway, the point is that adding these sauces to the sliders really helps to set them apart and kick them up a notch. I’d highly recommend doing so.

I only had one other issue. It’s not the kind of thing I go into very often in these reviews, but I felt like the service was a little lackluster. It took about 12-15 minutes for me to receive my two small burgers and side order of fries. There were a couple other orders being made at the same time, but there were also four people in the kitchen. When my meal arrived, the employee didn’t apologize for the delay. I’m not one of those assholes who demands everything be perfect, but the problem is that I don’t think that 15 minutes is an excessively long wait there. That really throws a wrench in the kind of recommendation I can give a fast food restaurant.

Overall, Sliders was good, but not great. There were some definite highlights, and I’m planning on going back to see if my wait time was an isolated incident, but it’s not one I would put on my short list. Still, if you like sliders, or you want to see one of my childhood fantasies come to life, it’s worth checking out, at least once.

Applebee’s is a family restaurant/bar known for their appetizer specials, trivia nights, and all around ubiquitousness.  They have a number of burger and sandwich offerings, and looking back through previous entries, I was surprised to discover I haven’t reviewed anything of theirs yet.  Well, that changes today.  Among their various and sundry appetizers they have a cheeseburger slider platter, which comes with fries and can include bacon for an added fee.

It's three, three, THREE times the tiny cheeseburger!!

The sliders consist of a small patty, cheese, diced onions, Applebee’s “signature burger sauce”, and bacon on a ciabatta-type roll.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m not usually a big fan of sliders, especially when they’re presented as a full meal option.  Applebee’s wisely avoids this problem, and as an appetizer/light meal, I really enjoyed them.  The patties were good, and although there was only about a half-strip of bacon on each, it really made a difference in the flavor.  The sauce was good too, it was somewhere in between a regular A1-style steak sauce and Steak and Shake’s Frisco sauce.  The ciabatta roll was a nice touch, it added a sense of elegance to the burgers which a mini hamburger bun couldn’t have.

The Cheeseburger Slider Platter costs around $7, with an additional 50 cents for bacon.  However, Applebee’s offers nightly half off appetizer deals, which I would highly recommend you take advantage of.  It’s a great appetizer, and with another small order it could make a great meal.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I figure more voices should be heard.  How does everyone feel about mini/microburgers?  This seems to be a new trend in the fast food market (in addition to this summer’s fascination with barbecue sauce).  They’re being marketed a number of different ways, but the basic conceit is a meal which consists of three or four smaller burgers with fries and a drink, retailing around the same price as the usual burger/fries combo.  Often you can also order more burgers a la carte.  I’m split on this issue.  I am pretty strongly against variations like the BK Burger Shots at Burger King, where you receive six small, identical burgers with fries.  It runs cheaper than the usual BK burgers, but I personally would never choose six bland little burgers over some of their more inspired burgers, like the Mushroom and Swiss.  A better use of the theme occurs at Steak n Shake, where you order three sliders from a list of six, all of which feature their own sauces.  I like the idea of variety there.  However, I still prefer the idea of ordering one big specialty burger.  You may be trying more things and taking less of a risk trying many small burgers, but in my opinion the payoff is still smaller.  This concept was also tried a while back over at Quizno’s with their Sammies, miniature versions of a couple of their signature subs.  I see these little sandwiches as being potentially useful as samples, but never really satisfying. 

Of course, I have to note the great exception to my general rule, White Castle.  A true triumph of the American spirit, White Castle has made of business model out of the mantra “Quantity over Quality”.  Their sandwiches are all tiny, and generally served in meals of three or four.  I love White Castle primarily because of the variety and small size of their sandwiches.  I doubt they would be any good on the scale of an average burger.

But enough of my ramblings!!  Now to put the choice to you!!  As always, you can comment if you feel like justifying your opinion.