There's good news and bad news when it comes to the burger at Wayward Sons, the new Greenville Avenue spot from Hibiscus’ chef Graham Dodds. The good news is the flavor of the 44 Farms patty is bold, like running a highlighter over your brain. The bad news: Its delivery wasn't accompanied by the Kansas song the restaurant might be named after? No, sorry, that’s not the bad news. The bad news is the burger was cooked near medium well, instead of medium rare.
That might not be a deal-breaker, but expectations are deservedly high. At $15 for a burger, there should be scalpel-like precision in temperature. Is it just me, or are designer burger prices fluctuating like the price of a barrel of oil? Some of Dallas’ great burgers are comfortably under 10 bucks, while others are as high as $18 with a side of french fries. At Wayward Sons, you do get some enticing trappings.
I’m at the restaurant, right across from the Granada, just as the sun’s headed in for the night. Parking is valet-only at the time, so I parked in Tampa, Florida, and walked. The kitchen can be seen in production mode at the back of the restaurant, under a neat dividing wall of halved planters. Before my burger arrives, I receive a dish holding three ramekins. In them are whole grain mustard, organic ketchup and a pepper aioli. By the way, gun to my head, I can’t taste the difference between organic ketchup and regular ketchup.
Also on the condiment dish: The most badass, sharpest knife I’ve seen delivered with a burger. I’m not sure if the knife is for halving the burger or if I’m meant to tuck it away in case I’m challenged to a duel.
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The burger comes open-faced with neatly piled sheets of lettuce loaded up with crisp giardiniera-esque pickled vegetables on one half of the bun, and Gruyère (blue cheese was also an option) blasted over the meat on the other. It looks juicy. The “triple-cooked” french fries are huge and cut like kayaks.
I cut my burger in half, and there’s zero pink. It’s almost well done, but still juicy. Seasoning punches up the patty (I think my eyes actually opened wide), and the soft Gruyère curtains around it. The bun, which I squished down in order to halve the burger, is pillowy, too. I add a bit of the pepper aioli and the whole thing is bold, nicely salted and near greatness. The giardiniera pops and sparkles and will make you forget about dill pickles. On the fries: I prefer thin and crispy, but if you like baked potatoes you’ll inhale these.
If the burger is still juicy past medium, medium rare should make the burger a killer. Down for a return visit, anyone? I believe a 15-buck burger should be cooked to NASA accuracy, especially in such a meat-competitive city.