Share this article

print logo

Blissful burgers in Buffalo

Who loves hamburgers? Americans. They’re the United States’ most common meal.

Who hates hamburgers? Fine dining chefs, or a surprising number of them, at least. They are loath to offer common things, and have worked their way to a point in their career where they don’t want to make one dish a thousand times a week.

The hamburger can be a nagging reminder that no matter how nuanced and ground-breakingly creative their cuisine is, a certain number of paying customers really just want a burger.

This tension has contributed to the creation of a class of hamburger that has little in common with its fast-food progenitors. You could call them luxe burgers, or fine-dining burgers, but I prefer “burgers to die for.”

[Photos: See Sharon Cantillon's burger gallery]

Here’s seven examples of what can happen when chefs do their damnedest to elevate the most ordinary meal in America.

Every element of the common burger can become quite uncommon in the right hands. Better beef, using grass-fed local animals or blends of different beef cuts, is the foundation for burger elevation. Buns baked in-house for freshness and quality control can make a major difference.

Then there’s the toppings, like Red Leicester cheese tinkered with to melt like American, slabs of pork belly, and sauces more commonly seen in fine dining settings, like au poivre and béchamel. In the end, part of the thrill of burgers like these is that to order one is to defy death itself.

Green tomato & pimiento burger ($17) from Marble + Rye
112 Genesee St., 853-1390

Marble + Rye's green tomato and pimiento cheese burger is made with house ground beef (a blend of brisket, chuck, clod, short rib and bone marrow), smoked sweet onion and lettuce on a housemade bun. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Marble + Rye's green tomato and pimiento cheese burger is made with house ground beef (a blend of brisket, chuck, clod, short rib and bone marrow), smoked sweet onion and lettuce on a housemade bun. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

As long as Michael Dimmer can get green tomatoes, he’ll double-dredge and fry slices that are paired with housemade pimiento cheese and cherrywood smoked onions. The beef is short rib, brisket and chuck clod, with bone marrow added for a little extra juice, seared on the griddle. It arrives with house-cut fries on a bun that’s a cross between schoolhouse and eggy brioche.

[Related: Marble + Rye's thoughtful menu adds glow to downtown]

************************

Fat Tuesday burger ($17) from Buffalo Proper
333 Franklin St., 783-8699

One example of Buffalo Proper's Fat Tuesday burger is made with a 10-ounce prime beef patty, housemade American-style glazed ham, Swiss and parmesan, grainy mustard, arugula, béchamel and toad-in-the-hole Texas toast. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

One example of Buffalo Proper's Fat Tuesday burger is made with a 10-ounce prime beef patty, housemade American-style glazed ham, Swiss and parmesan, grainy mustard, arugula, béchamel and toad-in-the-hole Texas toast. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Edward Forster’s regular menu lists a burger in its “Hand Held” section, but on Tuesdays, he offers one that requires a knife and fork. It changes week to week, but its top bun is often “toad-in-the-hole” Texas toast with a runny-yolked egg cooked into it. This one also has housemade T-Meadow ham glazed with sorghum and bourbon, grainy mustard, arugula, and béchamel sauce.

[Related: Smiles at Buffalo Proper's second anniversary party]

************************

Bar room burger ($16) from The Black Sheep
367 Connecticut St., 884-1100

The bar room burger from The Black Sheep on Connecticut Street. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The bar room burger from The Black Sheep on Connecticut Street. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Steven Gedra won’t sell his take on the Big Mac in his dining room, just the bar room. Two smash-cooked patties of house-ground, local grass-fed beef are topped with Red Leicester cheese that’s been reconfigured to melt like American cheese, shaved onion, housemade Thousand Island dressing, and served on Ellen Gedra’s sesame-seeded roll, with triple-cooked fries and housemade pickles.

[Related: The Black Sheep winds up in Galarneau's Top 20 Restaurants So Far]

************************

Colorado Green chile burger ($16) from Allen Burger Venture
175 Allen St., 768-0386

Colorado pork green chile burger from Allen Burger Venture. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Colorado pork green chile burger from Allen Burger Venture. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Dino DeBell got his taste for chili made with pork and green chile growing up in Colorado. After developing a slate of creative burgers at Coles and Blue Monk, DeBell made sure the most burger-centered menu in Buffalo shared his childhood favorite.

A patty of grass-fed Angus beef is covered in an avalanche of chili, cheese, fresh-cut salsa and pickled chiles, served with hand-cut fries.

[Related: Allen Burger venture is a salute to top-notch beer, burgers]

************************

Tokyo burger ($14) from Thin Man Brewery
492 Elmwood Ave., 923-4100

Thin Man Brewery's Tokyo burger with 8-ounce natural beef, bone marrow, glazed pork belly, gruyere, pickles, caramelized onions, spicy remoulade, fried egg and au poivre sauce on brioche. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Thin Man Brewery's Tokyo burger with 8-ounce natural beef, bone marrow, glazed pork belly, gruyere, pickles, caramelized onions, spicy remoulade, fried egg and au poivre sauce on brioche. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Bruce Wieszala, who launched the Tokyo burger at Tabree, continued it at his present post. It’s all-natural beef that’s fortified with bone marrow and onion-infused beef fat.

The burger is topped with remoulade, a slab of glazed pork belly, a fried egg, and caramelized onions, on a piece of brioche toast. That wasn’t enough, so there’s also au poivre sauce, and housemade bread-and-butter pickles.

[Related: Thin Man to roll out first beers on Sept. 28]

************************

Loco moco ($10) from Seabar
475 Ellicott St., 332-2928

Seabar's Loco moco may not have a bun, but it's still quite hardy. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Seabar's Loco moco may not have a bun, but it's still quite hardy. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Mike Andrzejewski serves what he wants to eat at his flagship restaurant, including duded-up versions of Hawaiian surfer snack-shack grub.

This lunch dish is a mound of fried jasmine rice with peppers and onions that’s topped with a griddle-seared patty. That’s topped in turn with two soft-yolked fried eggs, and then beef gravy, adorned with chile oil, scallions and cilantro.

[Related: Seabar earns perfect rating in restaurant review]

*************************

Smoked cheddar burger ($18) from Oliver’s
2095 Delaware Ave., 877-9662

Oliver's Restaurant's burger is 10-ounce certified angus beef prime, smoked cheddar, lettuce, red onion and Spanish tomato jam. The fries come with a smoked tomato ketchup. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Oliver's Restaurant's burger is 10-ounce certified angus beef prime, smoked cheddar, lettuce, red onion and Spanish tomato jam. The fries come with a smoked tomato ketchup. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Ross Warhol carries on the luxe burger tradition at the Delaware Avenue fine dining veteran. A 10-ounce burger of prime Angus beef is ground in-house, seared and served on a toasted housemade brioche bun.

Smoked cheddar, red onion and a smoky pimenton tomato jam adorn the plus-size patty. It’s served with fries that have been twice-cooked in duck fat, and smoked ketchup.

[Related: Oliver's hires executive chef Ross Warhol]

Email Andrew Galarneau at agalarneau@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment