Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BurgerQuest, Vol. 1: Flip Burger Boutique

Since burgers in some capacity comprise the entire menu at Flip, I will be writing about multiple burgers here: this one just happens to be my most recent.

Located on Howell Mill Rd., Flip is the latest enterprise from Atlanta chef (and Top Chef alum) Richard Blais. After several forays in casual fine dining, Blais decided to open a burger joint, but one that incorporates some of his signature techniques. A quick word on this: yes, Blais uses foams, liquid nitrogen, and cool toys from Polyscience, but from my experience eating his food (Element, Home, and Flip); it's not just gimmicky. Because he is pretty much the only chef in Atlanta--for better or worse, a meat and potatoes town--using these techniques, it often goes overlooked that he puts out some damn tasty food.

Labeled "fine dining between two buns," those looking for a run-of-the-mill greasy spoon burger should look elsewhere. While I absolutely despise the term "gourmet" as an adjective or qualifier, Blais is taking burgers to another level. Whereas quite a few Atlanta restaurants are striving to produce the best possible classic cheeseburger, Blais is using the burger to showcase both high quality ingredients and different cuisines. The burgers are small, so as to allow you to sample more than one per sitting. Oh, and don't gripe about the price of the burgers. Good ingredients cost money. More on that at a later date.

During my last visit, I observed that Flip had just made some tweaks to the menu. I decided to sample two of the new burgers. One was a standard bacon cheeseburger with Benton's bacon, American cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, house-made pickles, and Flip sauce. The sauce was creamy with a nice sweetness and acidity. It kinda reminded me of a slightly spicy coleslaw dressing, and much like the Chinamen-kidnapped rug did for The Dude's living room, tied the burger together. The whole burger had a great balance of flavors and I would order it again without hesitation. And because it's almost un-American to order a burger without something fried and starchy, I opted for the standard French fries. They come with ketchup and an incredibly interesting smoked mayonnaise. All I will say about the fries is that when executed correctly, they are the best I've ever had in my life.

My second burger was a Cuban burger. Paying homage to the Cuban sandwich, the burger featured a spicy pork patty, pork belly, Benton's ham, Swiss cheese, smoked mayo, mojo, and two types of pickles. A part of me wanted the burger to be pressed like the sandwich traditionally is, but half of the fun was mashing this thing myself before voraciously tearing into it. This burger was a celebration of all things swine. The patty had great spice which was the finishing note to each bite. The rich pork belly and melted swiss were well matched with the mustard and the sweet/sour pickles. My only quibble was the ham. While I devoutly worship at the altar of Allan Benton (more on him at a later date), country ham can be very "toothy," and I think that it wasn't quite sliced thinly enough. Aside from that, the burger was amazing. Something about this flavor combination was truly addictive: I mean, I didn't want to put this thing down. Even when going for the fries, I was still clutching to that burger. I would order this in a heartbeat, and it has instantly become one of my favorites at Flip. Maybe next time I'll have the balls to plunk down $45 for a Japanese Kobe burger with foie gras, truffles, and red wine syrup. If it's anything like Daniel Boulud's, I'm in for a treat.

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