September 19, 2013
I first went to Cosmo’s a few weeks ago with a group of friends—most of whom were male, most of whom had been there before. The floor is checkerboard black-and-white. Wooden wall panels decorate the walls. You feel like you’re in a neighborhood gem even before you sit down. After learning that the local restaurant, which opened in September 2011 and serves casual American cuisine, now has a liquor license, we put away our jug wine, ordered some cold beers, and opened our menus. Or, at least I opened my menu. For those who had already eaten at Cosmo’s, they knew exactly what they were getting.
It’s called the “Hill Topper.” The name sounds silly, but when this Everest of a sandwich is set before you, you’ll gaze up at it from your chair, suddenly feeling very small. Including a double-bacon cheeseburger, and chili, and onion rings, and fried pickles, The Hill Topper takes no shame in targeting up-the-road college students who are always a little too excited to eat in a restaurant rather than a dining hall.
As all the men at my table ordered, “Hill Topper,” “Hill Topper,” “Hill Topper” I thought, what kind of food blogger would I be to resist? I didn’t even try. “Hill Topper,” I grinned, “with sweet potato fries instead of regular.” (The substitution is $2 extra, but worth it, though the original options—regular fries or house-made potato chips—are great too.) I was hungry. I was excited. At least, until one of the owners playfully remarked, “A little girl like you can’t finish that.” He was amused. I was not.
Flash forward to a long while later, the little girl at the table did finish the Hill Topper, though, when you order it, which you must, you’ll understand when I say: This was no simple task. But in defense of women(’s stomachs) everywhere—and in anticipation of my picture being “put up on the wall,” as the owner promised me—I ate every last bite of that burger. Even if it did, by the end, feel like more of a feat than sprinting up the Hill.
Now, the third time I went to Cosmo’s (and keep in mind, this is all since school started), I ordered the Hill Topper again, which can only speak to its masochistic addictiveness. My arms drip with red-colored chili grease from wrists to elbows. My arteries sob. And I couldn’t care less. The burgers are juicy and hot off the grill: never frozen and well-cooked. The bun is baked in-house. The onion rings are wide and crispy. The fried pickles—providing a much-needed kick of vinegar to round out all that fat—are surprisingly good.
Besides the restaurant’s magnum opus, I’ve also tried the lamb burger—a chalkboard special that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon—twice and have enjoyed it both times. Unlike The Hill Topper, it “only” has one meat patty, but the size is still enough to feel full when you’re finished. While I would prefer the lamb to be cooked closer to the medium-rare side, it wasn’t overcooked to the point of dryness. Also unlike The Hill Topper, this burger is topped with lots of melted feta cheese, which is enough to make most people happy—right?
Ah. Yikes. I know what you’re thinking. “Most people” who eat meat. What if you’re a vegetarian? Or a pescetarian? (Or one of those people who “only eats chicken,” a diet one of my suitemates loyally follows, and insists that many others do the same.)
Here’s the breakdown. With Cosmo’s breakfast options and specials not included, there are 20 regular items on the menu, and eight of those are vegetarian friendly. And perhaps it’s worth mentioning that when I say eight, I’m including five sides: potato chips, sweet potato fries, French fries, onion rings and fried pickles. (Though, who wouldn’t want to make a meal of potato chips and fried pickles?)
If you’re a pescetarian, there’s a good chance you’ll happily order the “Crabby Patty” again and again, as this crispy, oversized crab cake sandwich is flavorful enough to make even the ever-grumpy Squidward proud. But if you’re a full-on vegetarian, this probably won’t become your go-to spot. Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Wertheim ’14 sampled “The Pretender,” the humorously (verging upon teasingly) titled veggie burger, and said it wasn’t “all that great.”
However, if you’re not on an only-chicken/only-fish/only-vegetable diet, and you haven’t yet been to Cosmo’s: It’s time to go. A local named Leslie dining near me described the restaurant as, “a good, cheap place to eat,” only to revise her review to: “It’s perfect.” As a sucker for a good burger, I’m included to agree.
Cosmo’s serves above-par burgers, icy beers, nice wines (try 19 Crimes for a good red), and gourmet cupcakes that sell out sooner than you can order them. (For dessert, I had to settle for the Chocolate Cannoli Cake, which, as you can guess, wasn’t really “settling” at all.)
If you’re wondering where this place is? Right next to the liquor store: A.K.A. right down the Hill. For a typical dinner, you’ll likely spend less than you would at the liquor store. The sandwiches range from $4.95 for the modest Abbey Hoffman Hot Dog, to $11.95 for the monstrous Hill Topper. That said, I somehow anticipate my budget being compromised by Cosmo’s in the upcoming months. Even if I do still hold a grudge that my picture isn’t up on the wall for my accomplishment. At least, not yet.
43 Meadow Street, Clinton
Atmosphere: Casual, busy, but not too loud
Service: Knowledgeable, very friendly
Recommended dishes: Hill Topper, lamb burger special, Crabby Patty, fried pickles, any of the specialty cupcakes
Liquor: reasonable selection of beers, ciders, and wines
Price range: Reasonable verging on cheap
Credit cards: All major cards
Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Reservations: Not necessary