When it comes to designer burgers, a good one is a high-wire act. Add too many overwrought ingredients – and a high price – and you’ll end up with a pretentious sandwich that sends you running to the nearest In-N-Out. Too few ingredients and you’ll wonder why you’re dropping twenties for a damn cheeseburger.
Part of the magic of a cheap, made-with-store-bought-toppings dive burger is that it taps into the whole reason we fell in love with the sandwich in the first place: griddle-crusted beef, melted American cheese and a soft bun, dropped in front of you in a basket with french fries. Mirador, one of Dallas’ newest downtown fine dining spots, has a burger that walks a fine line between high-end and casual.
Make no mistake: This is the kind of restaurant where they ask you if you want sparkling or “house water." Wait, who’s making the water at Mirador? I didn’t realize Chef Earth was in the kitchen. It’s a restaurant where you mosey through a jewelry store to get to the elevator that takes you to the top floor for soaring downtown views, the kind of place where you overhear fellow diners talking about their most recent cleanse. Mirador has sleek cutlery, polished rock tables and lobster rolls so precise-looking you'd swear a multi-armed robot chef was in the kitchen.
Still, despite the downtown-upscale cliches, chef Junior Borges' menu is home to a simple-at-heart burger. It comes with sharp cheddar and sauce gribiche, which is a Frenchified mayo concoction with chopped herbs and pickled things. Maybe you’ll be skeptical of what made me skeptical: Gribiche? Is this going to be one of those insufferably fine-dining burgers with all the emphasis on the sauce and the toppings?
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The answer is no. There are ribbons of pickled onions, molten sharp cheddar, a house “seeduction bun,” but the beef shines through. It's the centerpiece. The gribiche is cooling and pine-needle green, acting like an ax to the stern, molten cheddar. The meat is rich with rivulets of juices. It’s a tinier burger, easily manageable with two hands which, pro tip, probably means you don’t need to cut it in half. It’s just enough to keep you wanting more.
Their "seeduction bun" is half-grainy, half poppy-seedy. It's dense; just over the edge of too much bread. The beef stars. I’m half-way through the burger before I remember the plate features a raked zen garden of mayo topped with neat slices of chives. A polished, adorable side dish for mayo? Quit being likable, Mirador. The tiny mayo garden got several trips through from my french fries, which were deeply crunchy.
At $16, and served during lunch only, this is not a cheap burger by any stretch, but it is a burger that will surprise you. For all its balancing of artistry and preciousness, it packs a beefy punch.
Mirador, 1608 Elm St.