There’s a special kind of craving that comes when you see food in a movie. When I was a kid, whenever Home Alone's Kevin McCallister sat down to bless his big dish of golden macaroni and cheese, the color of melted sunlight, there wasn't a burglar in the world that could stop me from eating my own mac and cheese. In Iron Man, after Tony Stark is rescued from captivity and brought back to the U.S., he eats a Burger King cheeseburger in front of the press. Every time I see the scene, I crave a fast food burger like the earth's going to explode.
The fast food burger craving is different from other cravings: It’s an urge that’s summoned from a place in the brain that I swear isn’t hunger. It comes from a deeper place. The cravings are primal, more akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger lighting a torch, covered in mud, and battle crying to the moon in Predator . When I want a McDonald’s burger, I am getting a McDonald’s burger.
Which is why it blows, extra hard, when your fast food burger is terrible. Next time your craving comes on, and you find your expectations rising a little too high for a fast food burger, go to The Skellig. The Skellig, a new joint on Henderson Avenue from the people who brought you The Old Monk and Idle Rich, has a double cheeseburger that every fast food burger wishes it was.
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I’m one of the few on the patio in the spot formerly known as J. Black’s, and it’s exactly what you'd expect of a gastropub: Wooden patio tables, interesting beer, exposed ducting and murals of colonial ships. The Double Stack is 11 bucks, and it comes with two quarter-pounders, double American cheese, bacon, pickle, onion and “#7 sauce.” The special sauce is what sings loudly of fast food — in all the good ways.
First things first: This isn’t the kind of burger in which you press the bun down with your hand and juice rolls out. It’s a functional cheeseburger to satisfy that deep, fast food urge. The flavor profile rings the Big Mac bell in your head, and it’s delicious. Panes of bacon are piled in between the two cheeseburgers, an evil version of the Big Mac’s center bun. Well played, chefs of The Skellig. Also, the onion and good old fashioned pickle give off flavors that zip right to your cravings center. The fries are clearly meant to elicit the simple, to-go fries of your dreams: Thin and fried crispy. There's nothing out-of-bounds interesting there, just old school french fries. I splashed some malt vinegar on those and was damn happy.
The Skellig also has a single-patty version called the "Road Trip Burger," at a reasonable eight bucks, which I would skip. I tried it on my first visit and tasted mostly toppings on a rubbery bun. The Double masters the art of well-constructed road burger.
Next time you’re craving a burger wrapped in golden paper, veer into The Skellig. The Hamburglar in you won’t be disappointed.