I’m a big eater. Not ashamed to admit it. I love food, I married a chef, I eat not because it is necessary for survival, but because eating is a pleasurable experience. Whether food is ordinary or exemplary, there is something to be gained from the experience itself, so I often remind myself to try new things, eat things I’m not normally a fan of, and be open-minded about what goes into the things I eat. So when the chef set this . . . monster of a burger down in front of me I was daunted, I’m ashamed to admit. I’ve never been a fan of onions in general, let alone raw; when my wife and I use them in our cooking, they’re always rendered down until they’re little more than a seasoning, and usually hidden among the rest of the flavors. But there it was, amidst the savory peppery-ness of the beef and the sinful decadence of crispy bacon, was just a hint of that spicy smell. Annoyed with my own reluctance to devour the impressive meal before me, I steeled my nerves and dove in.
The first thing I noticed was the bun; there’s a “mouth-feel” to the things we eat, a combination of texture and consistency that can make or break any meal, and a lot of people never realize that. The first thing we notice about any food we put in our mouths is how dry or wet it is, whether it leeches the moisture out of our tongues and gives us cotton mouth, or melts into a greasy sludgy goop when our saliva gets involved. Balance is key. The Kaiser bun had been lightly toasted on the griddle; even though the bread itself was soft and airy, there was a nice little crackle as the crispy shell parted, mingling with the tangy taste of mayonnaise. The vegetables were very fresh; the tomatoes juicy while the lettuce and onions were crisp. Their flavors were refreshing and, surprisingly, very subtle. Then, I passed out of veggie town and plunged into the breakfast belt. The hash brown patty was also very subtle and crispy, a little salt and a little starch. The egg was perfectly cooked, with the whites soft and flavorful, while the yolk was thick and creamy. Then there was bacon; sweet, savory, glorious bacon. The firmer parts of the meat ground down nicely in my mouth, while the juicy fat melted and coated my tongue. What more can you say? Everyone loves bacon, it’s one of those principles we get raised on; be nice top each other, obey the law, eat bacon. Last, but not least, there was that half pound beef patty. Anyone whose every learned to barbeque, or been fed by someone who was learning (or God forbid, never really learned), can tell you that burgers get dry very easily. There are few things worse than a dry burger; it isn’t just the meat that suffers, but as the juice and oils leech out of the beef, they take the seasonings with them. But not this burger; it had that mouth-watering mixture of natural flavors and seasonings that equaled a roaring dopamine release in my brain.
But my favorite part was that fried egg; how that unctuous yolk mingled with the juice from the beef and the bacon and just turned into a mouth experience, how it carried each flavor along with it as it seeped in and around the meat and veggies. Egg yolks are a great tool in cooking, if you know how to use them. They have very little flavor of their own, instead taking flavors from the things they touch and marrying them into the silky decadence. The egg was a smooth and creamy vehicle for all the flavors to meld on my tongue; I stopped eating the ingredients and started eating the burger. Before long, it was gone, onions and all.
This was a very satisfying burger to eat. I was left full, but not too full. I still had room to nibble a few of the French fries that came with. Considering I paid eleven dollars for the whole tasty affair, I’d say the food was more than worth such a reasonable price. I encourage anyone who loves a good meal to come and try this burger, available through the end of September. I know I’ll get another one before the month is up.
Until then, Bon Appétit, and remember; don’t be afraid to get in there with both hands. Food is meant to be enjoyed.