I'm sitting at the bar at Proof + Pantry, which faces away from the hustle of the One Arts District, and the place is humming with its new lunch service. A man next to me is polishing off a lobster roll. He lets me know the salad I ordered with my burger (no idea why I did this) has sheerly-cut radishes. He says he doesn't live nearby, but he's already a Proof + Pantry regular. The bartender smiles, introduces himself to me. Behind the cozy bar, a ladder is propped up, which I'm assuming leads upward to some amazingly old, dusty-bottled elixir.
I order the newly added Pantry Burger, a house blend with American cheese and caramelized onions. It's 15 bucks.
Here's the thing -- I love cheeseburgers. With a tornado of options in Dallas, it's easy to make a perfectly perfunctory burger order. There are a lot of quietly good burgers in Dallas. The Proof and Pantry burger is a stupendous glass-shatterer. It will mute any burgers you've had recently.
The meat flavor was a hulk of a thing -- it could crush a car.
I wanted to go green and rip off my shirt after one bite, screaming insanely. This burger tastes like Fred Flintstone riding down the Brontosaurus neck at end of the work day. It's memorable and huge, with a juice level that makes your brain forget problems. It's possible I ate the whole thing like a rattler snake strike. The caramelized onions are finely shredded, so you're not overwhelmed with thick, slippery onions.
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Not long after my burger arrived, a man sitting to my left at the bar leaned in to express his excitement about my burger. He said that
he'd Correction: Chef Kyle McClelland had been working on the recipe for a number of years. It was Michael Martensen, Proof + Pantry co-founder, and he bubbled as he told me the meat's blend included sirloin, kobe and short rib. There are even capers and a little dijon in there, he tells me. Both add a salty, tangy punch that makes this damn special.
And there's no way around it: Under the buttery, crunchy bun -- Martensen confirms with passion -- there's a Kraft Single slapped on the meat. You know it's a Kraft slice immediately: There's something too yellow and too square about the science cheese, and it works so well on the burger it will make you weep. "I am cheesy American burger guy ... we do it differently, but sometimes you got to go back to the way things were," says Martensen, passionate about the way a Kraft Single gives off that cooked-at-home essence.
There's something hypnotizing about American Cheese on a burger -- maybe it's the way it melts. Adding a Kraft Single is a dark, dark magic.
Martensen also tells me some good news: Soon, the burger will be available for dinner, 10 to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 10 to midnight on weekends. Very good news -- this burger is immediately a classic.