I’ve only been to Jackson, Michigan, a few times, and never for a burger, but I thought I would see what all the hype was about in the burger rivalry between the West Point Lounge on Spring Arbor Road and Schlenker’s Sandwich Shop on Ganson Street.
At first sight, the West Point Lounge looks like your typical small-town, hole-in-the-wall – a local favorite that’s not trying to pretend to be anything more. The absence of windows feels like a tribute to the bars of our parents’ twenties. When you walk in, the scent of stale cigarettes hits you like you’re at a bar four years ago before Michigan banned smoking in public establishments. The neatest feature inside is a fish tank above the bar itself, running the length of the bar.
The Monday special is two Coney dogs for $1.75, which is an awesome deal. Although I was tempted, I couldn’t be swayed from my mission. I was there for a burger.
I decided to be adventurous and try the Chili Swiss Cheese Burger – topped with chili, Swiss cheese, and onions (I ordered mine without the onions, of course!). Labeled the “Craig Playford Special” after the high school football coach, the menu cautions that you’ll definitely need a knife and fork to tackle this burger. I opted for the basket, which comes with fries and either coleslaw or cottage cheese, and since it was my first meal of the day, I upgraded my fries to cheese sticks to satisfy my rumbling tummy.
Andy opted for the less unusual Bacon Extra Burger, which is topped with a large serving of bacon and your choice of two cheeses. Unfortunately, although Andy asked for Pepperjack and Cheddar, the Cheddar seemed to have gotten lost somewhere between his order and the plate’s arrival.
My burger was delightfully messy, chili spilling over the sides of the burger onto the plate. The chili added a sweet little kick to the burger, which I opted to eat open-faced style. It’s not the prettiest sight, but there’s more to a burger than its outward appearance, right?
I sliced my open-faced burger like a pizza pie, into eight wedges. By this point, most of the chili was surrounding the bottom bun on the plate. I had ordered the burger well-done because I don’t like to see any pink in my meat, and it was quite well-done. Weighing in at a quarter of a pound, the Chili Swiss Cheese Burger was enough to make me 80% full, which was a nice change from typically massive servings.
Overall, I’m glad we stopped by the West Point Lounge for lunch, but I don’t think I’ll be making another special trip down there in the near future. I look forward to seeing how Schlenker’s Sandwich Shop stacks up against the competition!