Careful thought is put into even Dallas' seemingly simple cheeseburgers. Take the one at Boulevardier, where sherry vinaigrette dresses the tomatoes and lettuce to make them less boring. Off-Site Kitchen's burgers are smashed onto the grill for that impactful sear. On Knife's hot grills, a flurry of salt and pepper hits the meat, and then it's left alone.
The art of a simple burger comes from attentive execution, and sometimes you can sense it's going to be great. Or, you can sense the opposite. It happens in the first few seconds after ordering. It's called Burger Dread, which is a thing we made up just now.
Burg·er dread - Short for cheeseburger dread ?b?r??r/ dred/ The harrowing moment, immediately following the order and leading up its delivery, when a customer deeply worries, and often knows, that the burger is going to suck hard.
I experienced potent burger dread at the recently opened Yolk in One Arts, where I went for the Build-a-Burger option.
It started with the pretzel bun. Would a toasted pretzel bun be too dense? Would it eclipse the burger by foot-lengths? Also, if it's a true "Build-a-Burger," shouldn't I get to pick the bun?
The topping options were underwhelming (green peppers, red peppers, onions, avocados, fried egg, various cheeses). Fresh mozzarella sounded weird on a pretzel bun, so I went with jack cheese. The burger comes with french fries, onion chips, fruit or coleslaw. Not really knowing what the hell onion chips were, I got those.
The beef burger came quickly, wafting a recently charred smell. The onion chips, which I imagined as thin, crispy onion-flavored chips, were actually fried fingers of onions. It was like a Bloomin' Onion had exploded on the plate, each onion sliver fried to different shapes. Like witches! And President Lincoln! One onion chip looked exactly like a tiny, fried Wilson from Cast Away.
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Bubbling jack cheese topped the meat, with thick tomatoes and a dried-out pickle on the side. There was one sliced orange on the plate for some reason.
The pretzel bun was too thick and rich for a no-condiments burger. The molten cheese pool masked under-seasoned meat. It was a combination of juicy and greasy. Good, loosely packed burger patty has a meatball-to-meatloaf range of textures, and this had a tightly packed, springy feel.
Vinegary discs of pickle would have helped. Also, bacon for something crispy and salty. The pretzel bun wasn't toasted much, if at all. Add those fried witch fingers, and none of it made much sense.
For a build-your-own burger experience, I'd rather have Vagabond's stupidly expert toppings (bone marrow mayo!) and ingredients. Some of the best burgers reflect the difference between perfectly simple and perfectly easy.