I’m pretty sure I’m inside an old movie’s dream sequence.
Hazy light dulls the corners of my vision. There’s a faded blue notebook in front of me, like something you’d find in your great grandma’s attic, that reads “Savory Psalms of Ida Claire.” A Jimi Hendrix Experience album rests on a record player above the bar. My coffee cup, filled with steaming hot French press coffee from San Antonio, is floral china. Where am I? I'm in some universe known as "Addison."
Everything is in joyful slo-mo at Ida Claire. In the time it took me to order coffee and a burger, two different large tables sang “Happy Birthday.” Group selfies are taken in the big, breezy indoor area. From my seat at the bar, it's hard not to feel happy with the room. I mean, how can you not like a place that has Holy Kombucha and Miller High Life on tap?
I got the lunchtime burger, which comes with pimento cheese, black pepper aioli and bread and butter pickles on a house-made sweet potato bun. I was skeptical of the bun. I also immediately wanted to punch my frontal lobe for not getting the pimento mac 'n’ cheese. The burger comes quickly. It's seared and smoky, with shaved onions and a nice little zippy side salad of kale and okra.
In addition to the average human's five senses, I think burger lovers have a sixth sense called “searception" that causes us to have spotty, hazy hunger vision when we see a burger that has been hot-seared to form a beautiful, deep crust. This is one of those burgers. It arrives and the voice inside you immediately says, like Gollum, "My own ... my preciousss."
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I take a bite and find the burger is tangy and delicious. The house-made sweet potato bun is sandwich-manageable, not thick and overwhelmingly bready. The burger is, as the searception indicated, well-crusted and salted. The aioli is charged up with tang and an earthen spike of black pepper. The burger is tightly composed, too: Shredded lettuce, dressed, below layers of pickle discs and tomato.
Above, it’s all seasoned meat, cooked to a spot-on medium, with pimento cheese and aioli. The construction and the nicely proportioned, squishy bun made for clean, easy hand-held eating. Happy burger eating. No burger shrapnel everywhere. The whole thing is simply addictive, and I seriously wanted to order one for each day of the week.
My check comes in a little journal with a map of the world on its cover. Inside the pages, where my check is tucked, there's some random writing in pen, possibly done by whoever donated the journal: "Happy Birthday you old farts." Sometimes restaurants that do designer Southern dishes with a modern twist end up over-complicated and precious. That's not true here. Actually, my experience at Ida Claire wasn't a dream sequence — it was just real, bold flavors and happy eating.
Ida Claire is in one of the nine realms of the Marvel Universe known as "Addison" at 5001 Belt Line Road, Dallas