My first impression of Wahlburgers was a trendy place with lots of green and gray. A place where the locals and tourists come to experience lunch and dinner in hopes of Mark or Donnie Wahlberg walking out of the back to say “hello” or take an order.
I was told by our waitress that Donnie was in the back doing dishes. I bit of humor, but still I had hope.
What I grew to understand in my experience of the joint on the corner of Church Street and Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando, was the name on the door was a bit more exciting than the meal.
And a lot less expensive.
The story behind Wahlburgers is a play on the lives of Donnie, Mark and Paul. Yes, there is a third brother – one who is not as well known, but just as instrumental in the story. Whether it is a burger you want with homemade pickles or their secret sauce to dip tater tots or onion straws, the food is average at best. I was told by my wife Five Guys was better.
I got the basic burger, which is just what it claims to be. A 1/3 pound burger with the fixins’ on the side. She had the O.F.D which is a burger with Swiss cheese, mushrooms and onion with a tomato jam. The jam, did not excite. The onion straws were plenty, but lacked flavor. The sauce accompanying the meal was good, but it wasn’t “knock me out” fantastic.
Again, I was still waiting for Donnie to come out of the back and greet us with a smile.
The restaurant, fill of televisions to watch sports and a variety of booths and high tops as well as tables in the center of the building, was loud. It was a bit hard to understand since it was close to 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and half of the spot void of customers.
At the end of this “experience” the waitress asked what we thought. She as quite entertaining, hoping to make the trip worth the $40 (including tip) we spent on two burgers, two sides and two nonalcoholic drinks. My wife was underwhelmed to say the least and shrugged her shoulders at the question. The look on our server’s face was worth all the tea in China.
As we walked out it was clear that while the experience is meant to tell the tale of the three sons’ life growing up, it misses the mark on the quality of the meal. Again, I stress the price, which is way too much for what you get. With those costs, this should be a bit more upscale. Going to Wahlburgers may be everything someone wants in a dining experience. For us, we were left feeling a bit underwhelmed.