Beard's Worst Enemy

Reasons to have a beard: (1) keeps you warm, (2) makes you look rugged, (3) allows you to drink at working-class taverns without getting funny looks, (4) no shaving. Reasons not to have a beard: (1) makes you feel like a cheesy porn star when you caress your woman, (2) you can easily be mistaken for a homeless guy or the Unabomber, (3) two words: Eddie Rabbitt, (4) Sherry T's ghetto burger.

As to point No. 4 on the "not to" list, Sherry Tillman Washington's ghetto burger contains the following ingredients: hamburger bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, ground-beef patty, hot links, fried egg, and cheese. If you have a beard, this sort of concoction makes your hairy chin resemble a paint-splattered beaver stuck on the set of a J. Geils video. And if your cardiologist weren't so concerned with keeping you alive, he or she would kill you for devouring such a heart-attack special. Worse yet, you can't get your mouth around the damn thing.

But because the ghetto burger is so amazingly and inexplicably delicious, such complaints are about as credible as an Eli Lilly press release regarding Zyprexa.

Owned and operated by Washington and her husband, James, Sherry T's Family Restaurant occupies a storefront a few blocks north of Columbia City that formerly housed a Louisiana barbecue restaurant called Doake's. Every meal is made from scratch by Sherry, except for the barbecue dishes, which are handled by James, who also mans the register. Bear in mind that when everything's made from scratch, it takes awhile, even if you're the lone customers in the joint (translation: Don't visit Sherry T's if you're in a hurry). It's well worth the wait, however, as the collard greens are moist and flavorful; the mac 'n' cheese note-perfect; and the yams, well, you've never tasted yams until you've tasted Sherry T's yams. They're out of this world. (The lone disappointment: a chopped pork sandwich, described by Bottomfeeder research assistant Huan Hsu as "tasteless slabs of chewy, reheated pork doused with barbecue sauce that doesn't even reach the edges of two thin pieces of white bread, made even more disappointing by the interminable wait.")

But back to the ghetto burger: It originated in the kitchen of one Dolores Tillman (Sherry's mother) of Jasper, Fla. "She loves it," says Sherry. "She says I'm a very good cook." Since they opened six months ago, Sherry reports that business has been gradually picking up, bolstered by the addition of weekend entertainment such as karaoke and gospel music. It is onstage in Sherry T's back room where the Washingtons take the DIY ethic where DIY ethics have never gone before: James is the house gospel rapper, and Sherry is a gospel singer who dabbles in neo-soul. Her restaurant does more than dabble in that genre; it knocks it out of the park.

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