A few minutes before dinner service fires up at Rapscallion (on the dot at 5:30 p.m.), I’m sitting at a preciously designed two-person table in the bar area, hands folded in my lap, watching the kitchen come together. Somewhere in between the Greenville Avenue traffic, the heat and an article about the dying Earth, I’m feeling out of breath. The bartender is jogging up the rolling library ladder to get a high-elevation bottle. When did rolling library ladders behind the bar become a thing? Hank Williams' “Move It Over” crackles and soothes from the speakers. Bright Topo Chico hits my table with a lime. Is everything going to be OK for a minute?
Yes, it is. I order the grass-fed burger, 14 bucks, which comes with a three-cheese pimento, house-made peppered bacon, Creole mustard and two dill pickle swords. At this point, I have to admit, I’m starting to feel overly confident in the order, thanks to knowledge of how damn good the Boulevardier burger is.
The burger comes, and there’s a mic-drop moment. Carrying a long, rectangular plate that holds the giant, a storm of bacon and thin-cut sweet potato chips piled like summer leaves, my burger deliverer has body language that reads: “Take this goddamn masterpiece.” I don’t even think he said anything, as though it had been given to me in slow motion, set to the opening strings of “Bittersweet Symphony.”
I dive in, after sawing through the delicious-looking monster with my knife, and it’s good. Really good. I can’t think of a grass-fed burger I’ve had in the past that’s carried such a rich, luscious flavor. It tastes like it was griddled in liquid gold. The bacon has humongous flavor, with notches of smoke, in two-step with that buttery burger. I pull a piece of just-burger and bacon off with my fingers, and the meat reaches a nine on the Shut Up While I’m Eating This scale.
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Careful attention is paid to the toppings, too: good tomato, onion shaved filament-thin and lettuce are all dressed with a quick pop of vinegar. The dill pickle is tangy and spicy. The three-cheese pimento, which I had imagined might be thick and overwhelming, was more like a slice of cheese — a subtle firework. Damn good. At this point, I’d like to stop and mention the sweet potato chips, hit with just the right amount of salt and fried so thin and crispy they could splice genes. I ate them rapid fire, like viper strikes.
It’s a nearly perfect burger experience. The bun is the misstep — it’s huge and loaded up with seeds. It's too bready for such a powerfully flavored burger. It seemed to repel juices, rather than sponge them, which made the bread just on the cusp of dense.
As I’m filling up, I see Tiki glasses at the bar. Always a good sign. Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” is on, which completes a round of perfect, old country songs. Deep breaths, it’s going to be OK. There’s another great burger on Lower Greenville.
Rapscallion, which may or may not save your mortal soul, is at 2023 Greenville Ave.