Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oh, Jeez, Not ANOTHER Burger

Guess which Charleston eatery the burger in the picture to the left comes from . . .

You're right.  It's a little hard to tell, since it really could be from any number of local restaurants.  (Hint: the wine stem in the picture is an important clue.)

The pic ran with the review from my colleague Eric from over at the Charleston City Paper of Vino Burgerz, a new gourmet burger spot that opened just up the road from me in Mt. Pleasant.

What?  What? you're probably asking yourself.  Some one went out on a limb and dared to open a gourmet burger restaurant?  In 2012?

Well, Vino opened in 2011, actually. As Eric points out in his opening, a few weeks ago we collaborated on a "2011 in Retrospective" piece that, drawing on every bit of keen insider knowledge we had, identified that big fat gourmet burgers were one of the big dining trends of 2011--an observation almost as perceptive as noting in the midst of a hurricane that it's raining.

But, I can now officially declare that big fat burger fatigue has set in (for me at least).  If I wanted to count the joints within a five mile radius of my house that serve house-ground half-pound burgers with hand cut fries, I would need both hands and might even have to take off a shoe.

Vino Burgerz does have the rather unique twist of adjoining a wine shop and offering wine pairings with burgers rather than the more traditional beer.  (Hey, there's an idea: a gourmet burger joint that serves "craft beer" on tap: that would be something new!)  And I'm sure the burger is pretty damn good (it looks great in the picture).  But in the end, how many of those big whopping monsters can the residents of one city eat?

The picture in and of itself, I think, helps explain the extraordinary deluge of high-end burger joints we've been seeing lately.  Look closely at what's on the bun.  It's all the crap that we were told we couldn't eat for 20 years--red meat (and undercooked red meat, at that),thick smoky bacon, gooey cheese, and a fried egg with a golden runny yolk, too (salmonella, schmalmonella!).  And, of course, hand-cut fries, all golden brown and wrinkly with little bits of crispy peel still clinging to them probably fried in peanut oil if not pure beef tallow.  If you're going to fall off the wellness wagon, you might make it a splendid bender.

But, one wonders how much longer it can last.

1 comment:

nmisscommenter said...

I think the market for quality-- even gourmet-- burgers may be infinite. There's a price-to-quality thing it has going for it that is part of what drives it, and then there's the audience. Who other than vegans wouldn't eat in one of these places?

I'm curious about Shake Shack and In and Out, but haven't been near one to try them, and one of my favorite chefs (Dan Latham) is now working with one of these type places in Atlanta.

Shifting gears, the cooking-over-fire thing was not a stretch. John Currence put a wood fired grill in the place he opened last fall, and also last fall, he, Donald Link, the guy from Cochon and others went to Argentina to investigate grilling done down there. It's been a long fascination of mine, and I'm all for it.

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