Good to Go: How Does a $23 Burger Hold up During Takeout?

The cheeseburger with russet potato fries for $23
The cheeseburger with russet potato fries for $23 Nick Rallo
Good to Go is a column in which our food writers explore Dallas’ restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.

One of the strangest food moments of the year has to be ordering takeout from a luxury steakhouse during a pandemic.

The Town Hearth parking lot was a quiet convection oven. The heat hammered down as the valet guy jogged up to the car (valet parking in Dallas soldiers on). I lowered the window enough to jut my own masked face outside, unsure of sure where to place myself in the curbside pickup situation. Who knows where we’re supposed to be anymore? I leaned out and said that I had called in a takeout order and was told I could park anywhere.

The valet offered to grab the food. He bounded inside and emerged out of the front door with a server from Town Hearth in close step.

Since reopening, Town Hearth has engaged screenings for staff when they enter the building (according to their site). Masks are required. As the door swung open, I found myself clamoring to see inside — just for a quick glimpse of the wonderland of the indoor steakhouse. Remember?

The server was wrapped in a dark apron, gloves and mask snapped on snugly. He carried the bag of food like it was his single luggage piece while he was boarding a flight. He walked fast to the window. I lowered the passenger window — I wasn’t sure which one he’d approach — and he asked where he could set the food. The passenger seat? No problem. He placed it there without an issue. The luxury dinner exchange was done in a moment, already losing its heat in my passenger seat. I considered buckling it up like a resting toddler.

Is it all worth it? Does it make sense anymore to pay 23 bucks for a cheeseburger and fries? It’s hard to know what makes sense anymore, but it’s absolutely worth every nickel.

Town Hearth’s cheeseburger is a stupendous sandwich. It’s an extravagance that reminds you of the joys of sitting in a candlelit restaurant, using silverware that wasn’t snapped out of a plastic bag, the clacking of martinis and the knife sawing the crust of a good steak.

click to enlarge Remember the insides of restaurants? - KATHY TRAN
Remember the insides of restaurants?
Kathy Tran
Town Hearth’s cheeseburger has a beef flavor that’s a mile wide and tall, as obvious as a cloudless sky. A medium-rare order lost its pink middle by the time it arrived back home, but the juices were still headed downstream. The loosely packed Rosewood beef — Texas raised, wagyu-style cattle — was forgiving. The toppings, lettuce, onion and tomato, were crisp and fresh.

The sandwich is neatly halved in its wide to-go box. It's like they knew you wouldn't be dining under flickering candles. This time they know you'll be devouring it off the kitchen counter or the work desk, maybe standing, grabbing handfuls of french fries.

Removing one half of the burger shows off the toppings like the landscape of a topographic map. There are charred deltas of juices running from the patty into the bun and clean lines of cheddar, lettuce and onion. The bread is a soft surface, holding in all of the burger’s inner layers.

It’s a big, bold, cheddar-topped cheeseburger with fries that taste like good potatoes and salt. It’s a confusing and bizarre time. A good cheeseburger might just remind you of when it was less so — and that’s worth a few bucks more.

Town Hearth, 1617 Market Center Blvd. (Design District). Open for dine-in, takeout and delivery 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday; and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
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Nick Rallo
Contact: Nick Rallo