Surrounding double cheeseburgers, there’s always the jokes about arteries and marathons. Double cheesburgers are “heart-stopping” or “artery clogging” or “demon summoning.” I’m may be wrong about the last one. A double cheeseburger, by some miracle of mathematics, feels 4,000 percent worse on the nutritional shame scale than a single cheeseburger. The bit is always: “I’ll need to run a 25K after this.”
Instant food regret sucks. Food, even at its highest levels of awfulness, is an experience that can bond with memory. Even Taco Bell can be a story. That said, one look at the nutritional counts (why would anyone do this) on a fast food double burger will make you want to immediately take on the Koala Bear Diet for four years. “No thanks. Just fragile, tiny leaves for me.”
Here’s my point: When you’re going to summon the strength of a double cheeseburger, you really want the burger to be stupendous. A double cheeseburger should be an event, like a Mavs game or a film adaption of a Tolkien novel. You want each patty to be seared nicely; cheese melted to the burger like a bear-skin rug on a bed; a spike of sharp brine from the pickles. You want to take a day off work to eat it. A double cheeseburger should really come with coronation trumpets and a wigged, former-military general announcing to a crowd that the meal will precede a gladiator tournament. You should hurl a great sword into dirt after eating it.
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Which is why it’s so frustrating when a double-cheeseburger doesn’t nail it. I’m at Barley & Board, the new, first-ever brewpub in Denton, put forth by a team that includes Eric Pulido of Midlake and actor Jason Lee. Their B&B Burger is 12 bucks, and it comes with house pickles, house sauce, American cheese and caramelized onions. Matchsticked fries are piled on the side. My burger is heavy in both weight and taste. Big patties are loaded up with slices of American cheese, and sit in a lake of B&B's sauce. The patties were cooked past medium, and they had a greasy-not-juicy feel to them. It needed some vivid texture and acid, which you’d hope the pickles would add. The sauce drowned them out.
The burger had that look. It had that "I would write letters to you from war" look of love. The taste didn't match. There was no safety in the fries, too: Some were flimsy and nearly transluscent with oil; some crisped to burnt. A lot more beer would have helped.
Dallas has a lot of great double cheeseburgers. Luscher’s Red Hots’ now famous Uncle Herky burger has the science down so precisely that you’ll wonder if Evil is being used. Mutt’s Cantina has a simple and fantastic double patty (Bonus: There are adorable pets). K.T. Burger, in Highland Park, has a thoughtful classic with bright yellow mustard. Or you could just wait for Shake Shack to open.
There’s a lot to love at Barley and Board. A huge bear is in the throes of battle in a mural near the room where the beer is being brewed. Chaucer-esque paitings are behind the bar, and everything is dark wood. Denton's first brewpub needs a more thoughtful burger, one that stands out as an experience.