In Dallas, we like to collect burgers. We have the triumvirate of fast food (Shake Shack, In-N-Out, Whataburger), a garbage burger, a burger with Eggo waffles as buns, a designer burger inspired by a Big Mac, a deep-fried burger, a Yacht Burger. Some of these sandwiches are novelties for a reason (Instagram), and some of them are sincerely delicious. Next Door in Uptown, the spot hunkered down on McKinney Avenue with chef Paul Niekrasz, now has a burger bun that’s got a cauldron of liquid cheese in the center. Like a Hot Pocket, it’s meant to explode a little bit.
I’m on the patio at Next Door as it’s delivered, a knife through the center of the sandwich to hold up the loaded bun. White cheese oozed from the area where the knife pierced the bun, like the android in Alien. Inside the bun-sphere is a molten Gouda core. Like a glacier wrestling with global warming, the cheese is melting into thick rivers and running into the patty. The bun has the texture of a good doughnut with a light fried dough crisp to the edges. If you resist the urge to jab at the loaded bun with a knife, which is next to impossible as a human being who used to be a child, you can actually get away with clean hands.
Because I’m a human being, I immediately jab at the bun with a knife for my, and hopefully your, amusement. Cheese gushes out, kind of like the scene in Jaws when Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss’ characters slice the shark open on the dock. I half expect to find a car’s license plate inside the bun (“He didn’t eat a car, did he?”). The molten Gouda runs over the burger patty, and it’s not all bad.
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The patty itself is slathered with a salty-sweet bacon jam (one of the best things about it), a few leaves of arugula and a “marinated tomato.” To be honest, none of that matters when Gouda cascades from the heavens over everything. The Gouda has a nice, sticky melt, but it left the sandwich tasting mostly of the strong cheese. The patty, a brisket and short-rib blend, was fine, nicely seasoned but overcooked.
Novelty burgers are most fun when they’re cooked with precision. The SoCal burger at Ten Bells Tavern, which comes with two blistered hot links and a pile of pastrami, tastes unbelievably good with a cold beer. It’s delicious, yet insane. The fried burger at Dallas Beer Kitchen also reaches psycho-level, but is too damn tasty to give a hard time. The Loaded Burger at Next Door has potential, if executed with more precision, to be a delicious novelty.
Next Door, 2908 McKinney Ave.