The Food-eater: Relish serves up amazing burgers in Gainsville, Fla.

The first in a series of food reviews around the SEC features a local burger joint on Florida's campus.
Relish has been serving fresh, build-your-own burgers in Gainesville, Fla. since 2009. (Oct. 31, 2020)

“Florida Man” is an American phenomenon.

Any amount of boredom can be cured by Googling the two-word phrase and reading stories like “Florida man was mauled by a leopard after paying $150 for a ‘full-contact experience.’” You can also Google “Florida man” and your birthday, in which case you can find gems such as “Florida man arrested for kicking swans while practicing karate.”

One Florida man, Rob Roche, chose a different path, when he opened Relish, a local burger chain in Gainesville, Fla.

His restaurant, specifically the one located a short walk from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, is the first subject of The Food-eater, a series in which The Maneater reviews local fare from college towns around the Southeastern Conference.

Menu

Think of Relish as Shakespeare’s, the flagship pizza chain with three locations in Columbia, but with burgers. Patrons first choose between one, two or three Angus beef patties, though they also feature turkey, veggie, salmon, Impossible and chicken options.

After that step, Relish features a choice of two different cheeses, American or Swiss, and 16 free toppings and 15 free sauces. The sauces range from the typical, like a homemade Thousand Island and chipotle mayo, to the untypical, like peanut butter and strawberry jam.

The restaurant isn’t called Relish for no reason. Its toppings and sauces menu includes three different relishes — dill pickle relish, sweet Thai relish and hot pepper jalapeño relish.

We decided that it wasn’t going to a place called Relish and not put relish on its burger, so we went with two patties, swiss cheese, grilled red onion, hot pepper jalapeño relish and sliced dill pickle.

Burgers aren’t complete without a side of some sort of fried food. The featured photo on its digital menu behind the counter depicted the poutine fries — french fries topped with cheese curds and drowned in brown gravy.

We took the bait and spent $4.95 on that, as well.

Result

Let’s start with the bad, which will be quick because there isn’t a lot of it. Ordering poutine fries was a mistake.

To be clear, they tasted great. It was a well-executed version of a classic Canadian dish, and while the gravy softened the fries, it more than made up for it with the classic gravy flavor and fresh-cut potatoes.

But were they worth the extra $2 over regular fries? Absolutely not.

The burger, however, was unreal. It was cooked well-done yet extremely juicy, and crucially, the juice didn’t make the bottom bun fall apart. The burger stayed intact the entire time, which is impressive given the juiciness of the patties and the relish.

The relish, meanwhile, gave the burger a kick but didn’t overpower it and provided a unique tanginess to the dish. Grilled onions are the supreme burger topping and Relish nailed them by grilling them to order, but it would have been nice if there were more of them.

The only slight issue with the burger is that the swiss cheese tasted more like and had the texture of a white American cheese, but that’s neither here nor there. The burger was fantastic, and wasn’t overly filling either.

Food-eater rating: 9/10

Edited by Maia Bond | mbond@themaneater.com

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