Frankly, I believe the whole burger thing is way over played. But it seems I’m the only one who thinks so. “Burger mania” has taken the town by storm, and grass-fed is the en vogue choice of meat among Atlanta’s new hip burger joints.
Flip Burger Boutique (1587 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404.343.1609) was the first full blown burger concept in town to exclusively offer this form of humanely raised beef when culinary director, Richard Blais, made the switch to 100% grass-fed from a unique blend of corn-fed beef that included brisket.
Recently opened Farm Burger (410 B West Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, 404.378.5077) is the first of two trendy burger joints to open this spring claiming to strictly serve locally raised grass-fed burger meat. The other is Shaun Doty’s highly anticipated Yeah! Burger, slated to open this month in White Provisions on the Westside — probably already slinging burgers by the time you’re reading this. A second location is already under construction in Virginia Highland.
Food is like sex; you don’t forget your first time — good or bad. And based on my meals at Flip and Farm Burger, two major grass-fed players feeding a whole bunch of first-timers, grass-fed virgins are getting, uh, shorted.
By now, most everybody is aware that grass-fed meat contains less intramuscular fat than that of corn-fed, making preparation extremely difficult, especially in fast-paced environments.
Make no mistake, besides being healthier — and, despite its lower fat content — grass-fed burgers are superior in taste to any other, even kobe. IF prepared properly.
Let’s take a closer look at Flip and Farm Burger to see what’s wrong.
Starting with Flip Burger Boutique, the strength here lies in Blais with his witty creations and fun flavor combinations. But his kitchen staff does to grass-fed meat what BP is doing to the Gulf of Mexico.
To start, the burgers taste grossly over seasoned and salty, which explains why the burgers at Flip, after the switch to grass-fed, became weighty, and sometimes dense miniature hunks of meat that are better served as weapons than food.
Most seasoning is high in sodium. Sodium eats fat.
Salt shouldn’t be caught anywhere near grass-fed beef, nonetheless touch it.
To add insult to injury, Flip’s kitchen goes about their busy day perfectly happy to incinerate all burgers to a stiff medium-well, regardless, and I assume blissfully blind to the fact that the ticket swinging in the window displaying my order specifically says medium rare.
When handling this delicate beef one must respect its limitations. Once it’s cooked to medium temperature or higher, it’s not only stripped of its distinct clean flavor that makes it such a wonderful meat, but it’s also hijacked of its health benefits.
Why can’t the kitchen at Flip cook a burger to temperature? I asked two different servers, and was told it’s a volume issue.
Perhaps grass-fed isn’t the best choice for this fast-paced burger joint.
Grass-fed beef, however, is without doubt the only option for newly opened Farm Burger in Decatur, given who they are (the same folks as Farm 255 in Athens) and what they stand for.
Farm Burger boasts locally raised grass-fed meat that’s aged first, then freshly grinded in house.
The kitchen here seems to have a better grasp of the product. Seasoning, if any at all, is judiciously applied. But they, too, are experiencing technical difficulties cooking to temperature. Why? Like Flip, I’m told it’s a volume issue.
The first week Farm Burger opened, the menu claimed chef would cook your burger to what he thought to be perfect temperature. Our burgers arrived medium-well.
During a recent visit I was informed burgers are only cooked to two temperatures, medium and well done. Huh? Why not medium rare and medium well? Anything over medium is the same, anyway.
This begs the question. If you can’t work within a product’s limitations, why work with that product at all? In this case, I do see Farm Burger’s point. I don’t agree with their two-temp solution.
Many first-timers will visit Farm Burger seeking a real grass-fed experience. Is a medium rare hamburger too much to ask?
So, what if your grass-fed cherry was popped at Flip or Farm Burger? No worries my dear reader, if it is a true grass-fed experience you seek, I recommend a visit to Muss & Turner’s (1675 Cumberland Pkwy, Smryna, 770.434.1114). Though not technically a hamburger house, Todd Mussman serves up one studly burger, the best in town. It’s a lush locally raised grass-fed burger cooked perfectly to a gushy medium rare. Juicy and dripping with healthy omega-3s, Mussman’s burger possesses a certain seductive silky center to go along with that sexy grass-fed flavor.