Dry-aged rib eye. Crispy shallots. Bacon mayo.
And those are just the highlights. Yesterday, the burger at David Burke Primehouse in Chicago busted onto my top 10 list, and it’s still climbing. I now need to reassess the burger list. Apparently (I only read it yesterday on their menu) the Primehouse burger is a Food & Wine Magazine favorite as well.
First, the meat is prime rib, aged 40 days. The burger is served with bacon mayo and garlic spinach on a potato bun (I’m especially particular about the bun). And I’m a sucker for those shallots. Joanne Chang makes a roast beef sandwich at Flour that has crispy onions that I go crazy for. And I don’t normally go for roast beef, either. But the horseradish, tomato, fried onion combo–well, you get the picture.
Part of the Burke burger’s success, like Chang’s sandwich, is in the balance of flavors and textures. I don’t like a soggy burger, it’s a major turnoff. The burger itself needs to be firm when it’s medium rare, not squishy in the middle. There needs to be some tooth to the whole operation. And even though restaurants are throwing in all kinds of meats and ingredients (from ostrich to lamb, putting cheese in the patty, and generally over salting–my pet peeve) I think the burger should be simple–made with great quality meat–and able to stand alone. This one certainly did, and the additions only complimented the flavors. It was noticeably not a salt-lick either, which I appreciate.
I was tempted to get crazy, since the add-ons looked so good–fried pickles, smoked mozzarella–but I ultimately ordered the burger as it was on the menu. I thought I should taste it the way it was intended, and I’m glad I did. The bacon mayo managed to add something that was almost undetectable, umami, some would say, and the crunchy-sweetness of the shallots was a nice foil to that. Finally, the bun literally held it all together. It wasn’t all fluff like the standard burger bun, and it was grilled slightly, the way I like. It was substantial too–it didn’t mysteriously recede while I ate.
The final litmus? Yes, I ate too much of it. Because it’s huge, and so amazingly good–and paired with a Newton Cabernet, it was a totally decadent treat. I could see myself having that in the bar on a regular basis though, so it may be a good thing there’s 1,000 miles between us.