The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 30, 2013

Mike Pound: Finding burger warmth on a cold day

By Mike Pound

— When I stepped outside early Wednesday morning, winter slapped me right in the face.

I’m not a fan of winter, but its absence in January makes me uneasy. On Monday and Tuesday, I wore shorts and I opened windows in our house. Shorts and open windows in January, while nice, aren’t normal. So even though I don’t like cold weather, I was sort of glad to see it return.

The cold weather got me thinking about winter foods, and that got me thinking about cheeseburgers. Granted, a cheeseburger is just not a winter food, but whenever I think of food, I always get around to thinking about cheeseburgers.

When I started thinking about cheeseburgers, I decided that having one would warm me up. So, around noon, I got in my car and went looking for a good cheeseburger. I had no idea where I wanted to go for my cheeseburger, but since it was cold, I decided to head south. I figured that after a while, something would pop into my head.

I’m not a big planner.

When I got to Interstate 44, I decided where I wanted to go. I took I-44 to I-49 and headed south for a few miles. Then I got off at the Diamond exit, turned right and then turned left, and drove about four miles until I reached the parking lot in front of the Undercliff Grill and Bar.

I hadn’t been to the Undercliff in quite a while. The only excuse I can offer up to explain that is that I am a moron.

On Wednesday, when I walked in, I remembered why I love the Undercliff. It’s not just the food — although that is a pretty good reason to love the Undercliff — it’s also the atmosphere. The Undercliff is just one of those places where a guy could comfortably while away an afternoon.

The folks there don’t call it a bar and grill; they call it a grill and bar, which is a more accurate description of the place. While it is a bar, the food is the star at the Undercliff.

Before I sat down, I noticed on the little black chalkboard that they were serving French onion soup. When the nice lady handed me a menu, I asked for a cup of the soup. Then I asked for a burger with jalapeno cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, bacon and anything else the cook could put on my burger.

And a side of fries.

The nice lady said that wouldn’t be a problem and took my order to the kitchen.

I was tempted to try one of the specialty burgers on the menu. In particular, I was tempted to try the Reuben burger, a hamburger patty with Swiss cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut and a special sauce. But for some reason, I opted to go with the traditional cheeseburger.

Maybe next time.

When my burger arrived, I had to ask the nice lady for a knife so I could cut it into two pieces. It’s always a good sign when you have to ask for a knife to cut your burger in half.

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but my burger was terrific. When I was done, I paid the check and reluctantly got back into my car.

It was, I decided, a nice lunch. I also decided that sometimes it’s good not to have a plan.

And before I forget, in my Wednesday column I wrote about an upcoming benefit basketball game between the faculty and staff at Carthage Middle School and the folks at KSNF and KODE television stations. I mentioned that the game, to benefit Shelby Shores and her family, will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2. What I neglected to mention is that the game will be played at Carthage Middle School. Sorry for the confusion.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.