Confessions of a Terry’s Turf Club Junkie

December 6, 2009

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The neon signs overhead are blinding and I am in serious danger of being trampled by a horde of incoming customers. So why am I so excited? Because my husband and I just gave our name to the hostess at Terry’s Turf Club and I know that no matter what abuse I may be about to suffer — it doesn’t even matter if one of those neon signs crashes on my head and sets my hair on fire — I’m about to eat the most Obita wickedly delicious burger in town.

But before I can even think about eating, we’re going to wait for over an hour. Because we’re in the way wherever we stand, we grab a couple of drinks from the bar and head into the 34 degree night to wait it out. This is the Terry’s way and either you can love it, work for it and earn it or you can go home.


We sit in the movie theater seats just outside the door and I quickly start to lose feeling in my hands. Even so, I manage to work my way through an entire bowl of peanuts. If I didn’t like peanuts, I’d still get them for the shear liberation of throwing the shells on the ground. The shells, by the way, are also all over my shirt and in my lap. Thankfully, my husband (who is in a euphoric haze over the exotic beer selection) doesn’t seem to mind.

I can’t even believe this, but when we are finally called by the hostess, I do a fist pump and shout out our name again as if I were yelling Bingo. We are led inside to a high top table that seems to be strategically placed in the middle of a busy aisle. Traveling passersby knock my coat off the back of my chair every two minutes but I don’t care because I am part of the Terry’s culture now – the busy lights, the mumbling crowd, the swinging bathroom door — all of it.


I scan the beat up, laminated menu, which happens to include hamburger toppings like foie gras and lump crabmeat. I almost have a hysterical fit trying to decide between two sauces (red wine with wild mushrooms and truffle or roasted red pepper goat cheese?) But when the waitress comes to take our orders, I go confidently with my gut.

At long last, the paper plates arrive, stacked high with freshly cut fries and our very own, custom made burgers. They are patties of black angus beef sandwiched between two ends of a Shadeau bun and they’re dripping with juices and sauces and melted cheeses. Ceremoniously, the waitress hands me a large, serrated knife to slice the burger into two more manageable pieces. I do this, and then, with a stack of napkins nearby, I attack the burger with two hands and the zeal of a child who just discovered Disneyland.


Suddenly, I don’t see the busy crowd around me, I don’t hear their murmurs and I don’t feel the stinging in my right knee (which is being repeatedly slammed into the table by people shoving their way to the bar.) My entire world becomes the hard to handle stack of glory in my hands and for the next 20 gorgeous minutes, I relish every soul satisfying bite. In the passing moments, I try to register individual ingredients so that I might recreate the recipe at home, but I fail. Only two dieties know how to create this kind of hamburger magic: Terry and God. Heroically, I finish the seemingly insurmountable contents of my plate and sit back in my chair. In my wake, I leave only 8 messy napkins and a rim stained wine glass.


After we pay the bill, we rise from our stools and head for the door. With a discernable decrease in agility and speed, we stumble down the stairs and start to realize just how full we really are. Even so, I know we’ll be back … junkies always come back. Despite the bruises, despite the crowd, the noise, the garishness, the calories or the weather, they always come back. And when it comes to this little slice of Americana, they come back hungry and wanting more.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dale Wolf December 8, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I have never been to The Turf Club because I keep hearing tales of the lines and the wait. What? Just to get a burger? Seriously, have you never been to Steak & Shake. No lines. Eat on fine china. High grease content. Malts so think you need a fork to eat them. Or the Rookwood Pottery where you can step up to an Erkenbrecker Burger (bet no one can spell that burger without a menu in their hands. Big. Thick. Juicy. Not usually a line to wait in. However, your blog post has sealed the deal. I will try Terry’s as soon as I can work it into my social calendar.


Courtney December 9, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I don’t think Steak and Shake has quite the menu that Terry’s offers. If your only objective is to get full, Steak and Shake might be the place for you. :)


Lainey September 19, 2011 at 12:22 am

Alazaakam-information found, problem solved, thanks!


Jillian January 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Courtney, I’m so glad you’ve gotten over your goat cheese childhood diversion! You’re back in the game, baby!


Courtney January 21, 2010 at 10:00 am

I’ve read many reviews of Terry’s Turf Club over the past year or so. Been there many times, and no other blog has captured the delight and chaos and experience that TTC really is. I need to get back soon. Thanks for the reminder!


Courtney January 21, 2010 at 10:13 am

Terry’s is kind of a cultural revolution isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


Steve Magas April 1, 2010 at 6:12 am

Great review. We are there almost every week on Friday or Sat [usually Friday] for the food and the music! Eric Campbell leads an ever-changing jazz band through some great, classic jazz tunes… everything from MIles to blues to some funky Herbie Hancock stuff to latin/Brazilian jazz. They don’t start til 1030 or 11, or so and usually have Eric on bone with bass and drums plus keys and sometimes guitar and other horns. There is a time around 11-ish when the crowd shifts, space opens up and then it gets packed up with the “late” crowd… very cool… great atmosphere for a live horn band! [Full Disclosure - Eric lets me sit in with the band on trumpet from time to time...]


Kate January 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Tyler and I ate at Terry’s on Thursday, and then Quatman’s Cafe in Norwood tonight. We loved Quatman’s burger way more! Put that on your list of places to visit!


brent floyd May 10, 2010 at 8:21 pm

terrry’s turf club is great if like burgers. yeah..burgers. but when you overhear the owner talking about which clientele he’d like to weed out, it leaves you feeling sick. Especially when you drop $150 on dinner and bring in a first timer. i’ll never eat there again. not even if my life depended on it.. i hope you won’t either. and i hope you tell your friends not to either.


Kathy palmer August 27, 2011 at 7:48 am

Tevrrys is no way like steak n shake it is the best food and unique experience in the tristate the best chili burgers elixirs in town hats off to terry


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