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4 Star Diner lives up to its name

By By Eric Tranovich

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Where: 4 Star Diner

Address: 168 N. Mecca St., Cortland

Menu: Choice of approximately 11 burgers including daily specials

Price range: $7.49 to $10.49


Grade: 4 out of five

By Eric Tranovich

As the search continues far and wide for the perfect hamburger, this month our journey took us to Cortland, OH, home of the 4 Star Diner. After receiving quite a few recommendations, we felt it was our duty to put their hamburgers to the test.

Located at 168 Mecca St, this quaint establishment is hard to miss. It’s a traditional country diner with home-style cooking. The diner opened in April of 2010 and was named after the “four stars” of owner Gus Kouvas’ life: his wife Avgi, daughter Georgia, granddaughter Alexandra, and his beloved, late beagle Nara. Georgia told me that when it comes to the items on their menu, she feels it’s their fresh, quality ingredients that really make them stand out.

Upon arrival, our waitress, Kayla Stamm, helped us to our table and cheerfully took our drink orders, giving us a chance to peruse the menu. The menu itself consists of a vast selection of items, including an impressive breakfast selection, of which we’re told is one of the best in the area. But as we were here for the hamburgers, our eyes focused on the arsenal we had to choose from. There are approximately 11 different hamburgers to choose from (such as the Angus Patty Melt served with American cheese and sautéed onions on grilled rye bread, the Texas Angus Burger topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, & onion, the Angus Cheeseburger which adds a choice of American, Cheddar, Swiss, or Jack cheese, or you can add bacon for the Bacon Angus Cheeseburger, the Mushroom Angus Burger topped with sautéed mushrooms & Swiss cheese, the Atomic Burger dipped in Atomic Mix and topped with Jack cheese, the Route 46 Angus Burger served on a grilled bun and topped with BBQ sauce, shaved ham, onions, and Swiss or Jack cheese). They also offer a selection of different burgers on their daily specials menu. Each burger comes in 3 sizes (8 oz, 12 oz, or the 16 oz “Double Decker”) and includes your choice of fries, soup, or onion rings on the side.

While perusing the menu, my eyes immediately fixated on the 4 Star Atomic Burger. This particular hamburger came drenched in an atomic sauce and topped with jalapenos & Pepper Jack cheese, then served on a lightly toasted bun. I asked that my burger be prepared medium well, and it was indeed cooked to order. My first few bites gave me a hint of warmth from the toppings, but not as much as I was hoping for. At this point I was worried the burger was not living up to its namesake. As I neared the middle, however, the heat made itself known. With each additional bite I could feel a few beads of sweat beginning to form on my forehead. I had chosen onion rings as my side with a bleu cheese dip. It turned out this was a good move as it helped to relieve some of the burn. With a hamburger this tasty, I am confident that the other selections on the robust menu do not disappoint. It absolutely lives up to its 4 Star name.

JT reflected on his bacon cheeseburger, commenting, “I ordered it medium-well, and it came to me well done. With that being said, this was one of the tastiest burgers I've had this year! The toppings were all fresh, the bacon was crisp, like it should be, and the bun held up well. The seasoned fries were crispy and delicious.” As a side note he added, “I know we are not the Pancake Review Board, but, I watched one of the girls drop off an order to a customer. Awesome looking cakes! The burgers are great, but I'm definitely checking out the flap-jacks on my next visit!”

Spatman added, “I had the All-American Burger. It is a half pound Angus beef patty, nicely seasoned and although grilled at my request to well done it was firm, yet juicy and was topped with a generous amount of grilled mushrooms, peppers, onions and melted cheddar cheese. It was a taste sensation from start to finish. Placed on a firm, lightly grilled bun and sided by soup or fries, and nicely priced, it rates as a very high 4 out of 5 on my wet-nap scale.”

Chiz went a classic route and sampled the Patty Melt, stating “The 4 Star Diner seemed like an All-American establishment. As such, I decided to go with one of my favorite All-American burgers, the patty melt. The medium burger was topped with American cheese, onions, mushrooms, and sandwiched between two delicious pieces of rye bread. Pickles are a must with my patty melt! I topped mine with mayo and mustard; also favorites on the patty melt. Mmmhhhmmmmm was it good! From top to bottom, every last bite was juicy and delicious. To top it off, I decided to get a milkshake to go. The only problem was I had a choice of chocolate or vanilla. But then on a shelf I saw some peanut butter staring at me. My meal was finished off by a thick and tasty chocolate peanut butter milkshake. My goodness was it awesome! I highly suggest the 4-Star Diner for a burger, and I hear their breakfast is a hit too!!!”

Scott selected the Route 46 Angus Burger. He commented, “I ordered the Route 46 Angus Burger, and as it came out of the kitchen it looked great. After biting into it and tasting the shredded ham, I discovered the flavor matched the look! What an awesome burger!”

Once the dust settled, it was evident that everyone who recommended we try this restaurant knew what they were talking about. The 4 stars Gus refers to may be for his family, but we found 4 stars in this quaint little Cortland diners’ hamburgers. So if you are looking for a great burger, or just a great meal all together that’s only a stone’s throw away from Mosquito Lake, make this diner a part of your day.