Flat Top vs. Grill: On the Lamb's Burger Scores a Point for the Grill

Most of the burgers I eat in Dallas, and many of the ones I love, are cooked on the flat top. The hard sear, the fantastic crust that adorns a patty from a griddle is an attribute that transforms a perfectly good burger to a Ratatouille-level emotional bond.

As George Motz pointed out in a 2014 New York Times piece on deconstructing the perfect burger: “The beef fat collected in a hot skillet, Mr. Motz said, acts both as a cooking and a flavoring agent. Grease is a condiment that is as natural as the beef itself, he said.” The burger crust, with a melted slice of golden cheese, is a gift to us from Mount Olympus.

Then, there’s the grill. There’s an undeniable joy — and smoky scent — to home-grilling burgers. I have no data on this, but I’m pretty sure that everyone’s parents cooked burgers on the grill — poking at them and wincing from the invisible tidal wave of grill heat.

If hot flames and char are your thing, the burger at On The Lamb is a head-turner.

Just a few minutes after its opening, I’m at the bar admiring the decor — extra large paintings of a Victorian-era man in motion across three separate paintings — and nursing a Topo Chico. I’m one of the few in the joint, so when my burger order goes through, and the meat hits the grill, the scent of sizzling beef and flames fills the restaurant. It is unmistakable — they’re grilling at On the Lamb.

On the Lamb’s not-lamb burger is two beef patties, two slices of white Vermont cheddar, medallions of pickles and creamy, lemony, decadent mayo. Mine arrives with cottage fries, sliced into sort-of pentagons and seasoned, and skewered by a very pickled green bean. Grill marks announce themselves on the bun.

The patties have a light color to them, probably from the house-grind of 30 percent fat, 70 percent beef. No lettuce, no tomato, and definitely no onion. One bite in, you get a rush of salt and fat and smoky char that immediately sets off sensors in your brain: Suddenly, I was a kid waiting for my dad to bring in the plate of burgers on a blazing summer day.

The patties are thin, and have some pink to them. The patties lean towards dry, but the grill-char flavor is big. The brightly lemony, real mayonnaise is good against the char. It’s a good summer burger. Would it be even better on the flat top? Maybe. On the Lamb isn’t asking, and that’s probably a good thing.

On the Lamb, 2614 Elm St.
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Nick Rallo
Contact: Nick Rallo