Josh Healy has only been chef de cuisine at Filament for a few months, but he’s already crafted one of Dallas’ most memorable burgers. It’s a double cheeseburger that tastes like the fast food burgers you wolfed in the car — the ones that never made it home from the drive-thru — and Healy embraces it.
Cheeseburgers that stir up memories of being a kid, feet dangling off the stool and both hands wrapped around a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, have been going around. Besides its meltability, chefs are using American cheese because the taste is imbued with memory. No one’s mom used artisanal white cheddar on their childhood hamburgers. Chef Healy grew up on Big Macs. When he was a kid, his mom used to run through McDonald’s once a week.
“It’s my mom’s favorite hamburger,” he says.
Chef Healy honors the happiness of a fast-food burger with a technique that maximizes one important characteristic: A beautiful crust. Filament takes two 3-ounce patties, a blend of “finger meat” (the meat in between beef ribs) and brisket from Arrowhead Farms, and seasons them with salt and pepper. Then, it slides on the hot flat top and sizzles for a few minutes, untouched, allowing the fat to render and pool around the burger. Healy carefully flips it once. Once it’s flipped, he crushes it a little bit into that hot griddle.
“The patty itself should break apart,” he says.
The result is one of the best crusts I’ve had on a burger in a long time. It nearly crunches as you take a bite. It is, without question, deeply satisfying. American cheese, the new must-have, is nuked onto each seared patty under the salamander, and the bun gets a buttery layer of bourbon bacon jam, a pile of shredded lettuce, pickles and, importantly, house-made Thousand Island dressing, aka Big Mac’s “special sauce.” Filament “played with 20 different recipes” for that one, an inspiration that bubbled up in Healy after a Big Mac craving.
On a recent visit, I’m having a hard time eating this burger slowly. I want to mow through it, messy face be damned. The egg-washed brioche bun from Village Bakery is holding everything together beautifully. The American cheese is perfectly melty, and the pickles give a good smack to the Thousand Island’s rich sweetness. The patties’ salts and juices turn the lettuce into a dressed, crunchy salad.
Like the fast food version, Filament’s new burger is always available, and it’s the only full entree you can order during happy hour. At $12 (during lunch; it’s $15 at dinner, but chef Healy promises that it’s got more heft once the sun goes down), it’s also one of the better deals when you consider the level of execution. It helps to have a heap of salted, crispy fries, too.
Therein lies the return on investment of an over 10-buck burger: It may be chef-driven, but the pretension ain’t there. It’s just a great burger that tastes like itself. Actually, it tastes like home, or, even better, burgers with mom.
Filament, 2626 Main St.