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Can hamburgers be gourmet?

I know that just about anything can be gourmet-ified but can it be taken seriously? No one would take gourmet fruity pebbles or something like that seriously but maybe burgers. And while we're talking about it what about some gourmet French fry options?

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  1. Where have you been the last decade?

    For fries, truffle (not truffle oil) fries are pretty damn good.

    11 Replies
    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

      I live in southern Missouri. The nearest 'good' restaurant is two hours away and it's a pacific rim seafood kind of place. I live in what you'd call a culinary desert. The reason I ask is because I got a food trailer recently and am going to make hamburgers. I feel a bit stifled by just burgers and fries and was wanting to maybe have something a little different. Also a decade ago I was twelve lol

      1. re: Drewstinkcheese

        Ahh, I see. The rest of the country has been going through a burger craze lately.
        Congratulations on your food trailer, hamburgers are a good choice I think. I was only 14 a decade ago
        I would read up a ton about the various styles of burgers over on Serious Eats

        I really like the smash style as it maximizes the crust. It is also easy to do those kind of burgers in a high volume environment. Then again I like a nice medium rare 8 oz burger just the same, but I'd do either one or the other.

        I'd consider making "American," cheese in house out of good quality cheeses. It is super easy, all you need is sodium citrate, or sodium hexametaphosphate, or a mix of the 2. There are lots of recipes out there though. This kind of melty cheese goes great with a smash style burger.

        Also, if the only good restaurant is 2 hours away, you need to consider the palates of the locals you will be selling burgers too, truffle fries may not be a great idea. Do you think there is a good market for gourmet burgers? I think if it is a culinary desert, people might balk at high priced high quality burgers. Also, if you are in a culinary desert, how are you expecting to get high quality ingredients?

        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

          What a link! Thanks. I honestly don't love burgers as much as the next guy (assuming the next guy LOVES them) but they are super easy to make and cook on the fly. I am going to do serious research on the link you sent. I also think in house made cheese is an added bonus people will really appreciate. I don't know how to do that yet but I am adventurous. Thanks for your congratulations as well as your input.

          1. re: Drewstinkcheese

            Making your own pimento cheese? Brilliant.
            Making your own actual cheese like cheddar? A huge pain in the a$$ that could go very very wrong.....

            1. re: Ttrockwood

              I'm not talking about making cheddar. I'm talking about mixing cheeses with water/milk/beer/iquid and sodium citrate, mixing it up, letting it set and cutting it into slices.
              Definitely not cheap, but you can get any kind of cheese to have the melting properties of kraft. Opens up some interesting doors, and customers will be impressed.

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                2 more sites you may be interested in:


                Good for looking into trends, and burger business has some good data occasionally.

                You sound like a smart guy, I can't wait to see how this goes, definitely has some potential. Might be good to always feature one burger with ingredients you get that day at the farmers market, and feature the farmer you get it from, people seem to eat that shit up. Plus it's nice to know that I can go buy the same stuff you are using in your burgers. I always wanted to start a food stand on my college campus but for various reasons I never did. PhilD has offered some great advice in here.

                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                  Thank you very much. I agree PhilD is a smart guy too. I think the featured burger with daily ingredients is smart. I was thinking about maybe having one or two burgers (maybe one classical and one 'special' or 'feature') and maybe some taco, a sandwich, and a salad. Diversity. People that shop at farmer's markets are totally into cross producers teaming up you're very right.

                  1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                    Thanks for the compliment.

                    One further thought (then out to enjoy the winter sun) it may be sensible to really focus your menu.

                    First, you will have a tight cooking space which makes cooking lots of different things hard, but second and maybe more important, you need to build your reputation on something you do really really well. If you cover too many bases chances are you will deliver averagely good across all of them.

                    Third, too many products can increase your wastage and that's what kills your profitability (unless each product uses the same ingredients). If you have lots of different things you can guarantee that not all will sell consistently from day to day. One day you have excess chicken, the next it's excess tacos, and everything you throw away is money from your pocket.

            2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

              When we moved to AR in the late 70s there was a smashed burger place we loved. Patties hung over the bun a good half inch all around. Now there's a Freddie's steak burger that's also flat (but small) that stays packed. So that style does seem popular in part of the Ozarks.

            3. re: Drewstinkcheese

              You go, Drew!

              If your area is anything like my wife's stomping grounds (S. Dakota), turning out great food isn't enough. Our experience is that people in the hinterlands tend to stay away in droves unless your stuff is better than the competition AND comparably priced. If you're competing with the minimart, McD or a "Farmer's Lunch"-type diner, you're gonna have to sharpen your pencil...

              I second the rec to keep things simple, and I'd add to keep things somewhat *familiar*--e.g., no arugula and call your aoli "garlic mayo". Never underestimate the power of a real hot dog/corndog, either, for people who don't have access to decent sausages.

              I wish you all the luck in the world, Dude.


          2. I have no idea what fruity pebbles are, some kind of junk food? (Don't really want to know)...

            Hamburgers are patties made from ground or minced something, usually red meat, but now the definition has extended to poultry, fish and vegetarian patties.

            Yes, they are a way of using scraps, but there is a wide range of scraps. Some are simply made from tough parts of a beast better suited to a slow braise, but a lot of people nowadays don't know how to do that (although there are modern appliances that make it easy and not so labour-intensive). I like to make bison burgers, as we have very good bison meat where I live, and it is both very tasty and nutritious. I'm also going to work on some vegetarian burgers based on mushrooms and Yves "chicken" mince.

            Gourmet doesn't necessarily mean expensive or complex. Of course there are gourmet frites. Use the potatoes most suited to that use and think about what fat you will fry them in.

            14 Replies
            1. re: lagatta

              You seriously haven't heard of the breakfast cereal kids eat called fruity pebbles? They use the flinstones as their mascot.
              I am also considering a vegetarian burger as there are vegetarians around here with absolutely NO choice when they go out to eat. Same for gluten free. I'm gonna have that option as well. I like the idea about grinding up other meats besides cow. We have local bison around here as well. Too bad you couldn't use seafood and call it a crabby patty lol.

              1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                Please make a veggie burger that doesn't suck for the vegetarians who get boca burger crap all the time...!!
                This one is my favorite ever- but note they are too delicate to grill on a bbq
                Also check out this thread:

                Toppings like pickled onions, avocado slices, jalapenos, fresh herbs, etc etc etc can set your versions apart from others.

                But know your audience. Ramen burgers might make lines down the street in nyc and leave people near you scratching their head.

                1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                  Yay you for planning a veggie burger.

                  I don't know if it's cost-prohibitive, but if you can get your hands on some decent tempeh, a burger-sized slab of that, maybe marinated overnight and grilled, makes a fantastic and easy vegan burger (you can grill it in advance to to get the char flavor and reheat on the flat-top or whatever else you're using for making the other burgers with a splash of liquid). You can offer cheese on top for non-vegans, which makes it even better. Tempeh is firm enough not to crumble or stick and can be really delicious if you season it correctly. Here's a baked version that's pretty good, too: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2...

                  Another favorite veggie burger for me is grilled portabella mushroom caps or discs of eggplant with guacamole or hummus, tomato and sprouts.

                  1. re: ninrn

                    Tempeh is wonderful, but it is suprisingly rare in many places. It is the staple protein in such Southeast Asian countries as Indonesia and Malaysia. Not only among vegetarians.

                    1. re: ninrn

                      mm, I have to differ on the tempeh, the food of the evil one surely inflicted on persons in the third circle of hell. And I've cooked a lot of it, back in the 80s and early 90s when I cooked in those kinds of restaurants. That stuff is nasty, almost unredeemable, and won't be a big hit in the ozarks.

                      Edit: however, a pal at one restaurant I cooked in had a great recipe for crispy tofu-lettuce-tomato sandwiches. Take smoked tofu - the folks at central soyfoods in Lawrence Ks have a good one - and slice it thin. Like as close to 1/8 inch as you can and have it still hold together. Coat carefully in seasoned fine cornmeal, and fry until crispy. It's the "bacon" in your TLT. Don't stint on the vegan mayo.

                      1. re: Teague

                        Well, I've had great tempeh (cooked by Indonesians in Amsterdam - not at a restaurant, by the way). I really don't care what plays in the Ozarks, I have never been there and am highly unlikely to.

                        1. re: lagatta

                          However, OP is asking about an area that's unlikely to have enough interest in that to make it worth his while.

                    2. re: Drewstinkcheese

                      I don't live in the United States. This site is based in the US, but has enthusiastic hounds the world over.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        Its the one with the flinstones on the box. We have it here in Canada. At least im pretty sure we do, I never go into the manufactured cereal aisle.

                        1. re: kpaxonite

                          Neither do I. No TV either (I can watch pretty much everything I want to on the computer now).

                          Some hipsters will find a way of making that cr*p ironically gourmet.

                          1. re: lagatta

                            So true. They'll toss some brussel sprouts and pork lardons on a bowl of cereal

                        2. re: lagatta

                          No kidding. Some posters here haven't quite caught on to that, it seems...

                        3. re: Drewstinkcheese

                          I hadn't heard of it, either. But I don't live in the US, so that could be why.

                        4. re: lagatta

                          Fruity Pebbles is the younger brother to Coco Crisp, centerfielder for the Oakland A's.


                          1. re: foodieX2

                            Nice! Thank you for the detailed list

                          2. Yes they can, but that's only because burgers and fries in general are now mass produced and are usually pretty bad.

                            So if you take a lot of care in sourcing the right ingredients and preparing things carefully then they can be gourmet. In the UK a enterprising chef started with a burger van and now runs multiple restaurants based on the concept (It was called Meatwagon).

                            Before he opened be travelled the US researching burgers (it was a tough job someone had to do) in order to distil the essence of a good burger. The type of cut of meat for the patty was important, I think he uses a blend to get the fat content right. The bun needs to have the right texture and taste and be able to keep the burger together - he has his baked to his own specs. The cheese needs to melt perfectly and have the right taste, and of course the sauce, or mid of mustard and ketchup needs to be right.

                            All of this is about creating a really traditional, dare I say old fashioned burger. Because modern burgers are often frozen or mass produced this attention to detail gets labelled "gourmet".

                            As for fries, the same applies. To the purist it's not what you add, instead it's the type of potato, the size of the chip, the type of oil you use to cook (and how fresh it is) plus the cooking method - twice or triple cooked.

                            To get to gourmet level it's all about the basics not the additions - taking a bad product and adding truffles or some exotic ingredient doesn't make it better even if you label it "gourmet". So focus on getting the basics absolutely perfect and the "gourmet" label will be deserved.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: PhilD

                              I agree with you completely. I think it's important just to do it with some damn integrity. That's what the mass marketed burgers lack. They are just an abstraction at this point. I think researching the origins of the true burger is a good starting place. Subtraction rather than addition is the mark of a good cook. I was just thinking a couple of mild twists could make me stand out. But like you said, all you have to do is do it right and you will be different. I feel afraid to compete with a bunch of fast food joints though because the consumer has set the standard. I feel like 'customer is always right' is ridiculous. They aren't. Most of the time they just want a formulated 'good' taste. More like 'good enough' to fill up the tank.

                              1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                "I feel like 'customer is always right' is ridiculous. They aren't."

                                That is often very true. But "customers" are conditioned by marketeers to expect certain things and they have their preferences shaped so you need to be mindful about how you break that paradigm.

                                I suspect that it will be about good segmentation of your market. You don't want to compete with the fast food places because their strength is their price point and the uniformity of the product - they satisfy the low risk, low cost market.

                                Instead you need to service the more adventurous sector who crave quality. And if there is a dearth of decent food in your area this may be a under serviced market. The benefit of being able to access and address this segment is that they will be less price sensitive and will value quality. The disadvantage is they are fickle and whilst not price sensitive they still expect value. Along with doing great food you will need to think carefully about how you market the product - not just advertising and PR but also pricing and what "need" you are satisfying.

                                So individual customers are not always right, but ignore the dynamics of market segments at your cost because you will find it difficult to swim against that tide.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  In my area there are two McD's, one BK, an arby's and a Wendy's. So I have to swim against that tide. I don't think I'm going to be actually picking up many of their frequent customers as you pointed out, they are going for what they know at a cost they don't mind. Crap food crap prices. There is a college in my town and a growing crowd of conscious eaters. There are some vegetarians and farmer's market shoppers. I'm actually planning to set up at my farmer's market and cooking with some of the ingredients I find there. The problem is though that there is a grassfed beef lady there who is also my neighbor and I am afraid I might not be able to sustain purchasing from her, solely as her prices are a bit high. Not unreasonable just maybe unsustainable.

                                  1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                    Sounds like the college kids and the farmers market are ideal targets. Maybe go see your neighbour and see if you can cross market the products. She gives you a good price on the beef (I understand the best cuts for burgers are not the choice ones) and you can cook them close to her stall promoting her beef with signage I.e. Best local grass fee beef from XXX. She may even give you a better price whilst you build the business - neighbours often help each other.

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      Very true. I have considered what you're saying. I think cross promotion will be great. Especially because in Missouri there is so much cheap beef it's a little harder to sell grass fed out here when everyone knows everything about cattle. They all know you can get it for much cheaper and in fact most people who live here have a sour taste in their mouth about a cow who hasn't been grain finished. They think it's a lesser product.

                                      1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                        Sell both types and differentiate one as a premium product.

                                        Remember that when you price you price to value not cost (I assume your base price covers your costs). So whilst the grain fed could be a €1 a patty and the grass fed could be $1.50 a patty you could sell the grass fed as premium product with a $2 mark-up.

                                        The same with vegetarian and gluten free, they could be cheaper to make than the beef-burger but you can sell them for more because the consumer values them more.

                                        Sometimes the cheapest things are expensive because of the cachet they give the buyer. For example hand fried pork scratchings in the UK sell at a massive premium to the commercial ones. But it's still just deep friend pork rind....usually a waste product.

                                2. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                  Strongly agree with PhilD. His statement is almost a perfect transcription of what I would have said.

                                  The euphemism "the customer is always right" was never meant, however, to mean "the customer always knows best", or even necessarily "the customer knows what he wants". The idea was that it meant "If a customer makes a request or statement, take it at face value and do your best to accommodate it; don't assume the customer is either being deceitful or deliberately difficult". There is a dimension of customer service here. (e.g. if a customer comes up and says "I ordered my burger medium rare rather than medium, but you gave me medium", re-do it, even if you think you can recall clearly that they made no such request, or even if you think what you made was medium rare (in that case make it rarer - within any health and safety regulations you're required to obey, and if that's the problem explain gently to the customer the limits of what you're able to do)

                                  1. re: AlexRast

                                    I agree with you both. I guess my feelings about the customer being "right" are supposed to be deeper than the surface. I agree that if they want a change I should happily accommodate it. That's very true. What I meant really was that when cooking became a thing that could be mass produced everything became too uniform. For instance, if we lived in small communities of artisanal producers the customers would take pride in their local version of a burger rather than being able to get the same burger in any corner of the world. I guess I'm straying off topic and being too idealistic lol. I just get sad that fast food chains are such whores and don't demand anything other than sales.

                                    1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                      Mass-market standardisation is unfortunate, particularly where it drives out smaller local producers - often deliberately - some fast food places deliberately underprice in an area to undercut local competition, until they sink them, even if the local "competition" was actually looking at a different market sector - a lot of companies analyse things in terms of market share and may not care that if they have 100% of the current market that usually means that there are other potential markets not being serviced.

                                      Still, there is sometimes a place for them. The best example would be Starbucks in airports, particularly coming off long-haul flights. Arriving in Singapore on the way to Brisbane from London going to the Starbucks to get what by that point was a NECESSARY coffee meant blissfully one less thing I needed to think about.

                                      I wish though that there were as you say more artisanal producers locally available. Best example I can think of is Foster's Fish and Chips. There are 2 shops, one in Manchester (East Didsbury), one in Alderley Edge (just south of Manchester. Anyway, in conversation with one of the girls there I discovered that they are actually adjusting their batter recipe to compensate for the different water in the 2 locations! Now *that's* dedication in a fast-food business. And it shows; Foster's is the most renowned chippy in Manchester with a fanatically loyal clientele.

                                      1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                        That smashburger suggestion sounds like a good and marketable alternative to the chainburgers. A similar porkburger would be interesting too, and you could even offer both doubles and mixed doubles. There's a guy here in Pasadena CA who runs an order-at-the-counter table-service place, and to keep the burgers in simple rotation timewise he does all the rare and medium-rare burgers as single thick patties, and done or well-done ones as two thin ones, so that a medium-rare and well-done order can go on and off the grill at the same time.

                                        My mom's place was near Ozark (still is, but she's not), so I'm familiar with the kind of food that's available around there and the people's taste. If you can give them something handmade, fresh and not expensive, with some extra twist to it that's fun but not "weird," you could have a good business there.

                                      2. re: AlexRast

                                        The customer isn't always right but the customer is always the "customer"

                                  2. Don't think burgers have to be gourmet..just do a good
                                    traditional burger....

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. I think you can have a really good hamburger, a great hamburger and " the best hamburger I have ever eaten" hamburger. Gourmet? no. It's a hamburger.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: genoO

                                        Good answer. I agree. I guess what I really meant was can a burger stay interesting to my customers and me?

                                      2. good quality fresh-ground beef

                                        fresh, toasted rolls

                                        tasty meltable cheese - Merkt's or whatever the equivalent is in your area

                                        and, even generic food service fries can be great if fried twice (lots of info on line telling how to do this) in peanut oil. No truffles required!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: chowyadoin99

                                          I have a great fry method. It's super common but it works the best. Slice em, soak em, fry em once at 325 to get them soft and then set them aside and wait until they're ordered and fry them a second time at about 360-375 to crisp up the edges. Mmmm. I also use peanut oil. I would never use truffle oil btw. I think the bun is going to make a huge difference. I won't use regular ole white buns. Boring. Bland. Melty cheese is a good point as well.

                                        2. What's the definition of gourmet?

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: carolinadawg

                                            I guess what I really meant was "interesting" rather than gourmet. You can throw some chopped parsley on a piece of toast and say "bam gourmet" lol

                                            1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                              Then yes, definitely, burgers can be made interesting through the use of unique or high quality condiments, buns, meat, etc.

                                            2. re: carolinadawg

                                              I really tried to like tater tots but they just do not taste like what I remember as a kid. Maybe the wrong brand?

                                              For less than $5 five guys makes a pretty good burger.

                                              I remember mcd bringing out the quarter pounder and that was a big burger. Now Americans want a 8 ounce burger? That sounded a little excessive to me but but I made some and making medium rare was easy with that thick burger and they turned out great.

                                              I love a good bun. I was surprised at my last burger and dog bbq how many skipped the bun.

                                              I think the secret to mcd profitability is their volume of sales. The local one is busy breakfast,lunch, and dinner and for late nite snack. Not sure how they do it, the food and price is not that great. They are fast and convenient, though.
                                              Is there a breakfast market you can tap? I never would have expected the coffee stand demand that has spread across the country. Maybe an egg burger?

                                              1. re: divadmas

                                                My father in law is actually such a fan of five guys that that is almost what got him confident in me lol. He is the one who loaned me the cash for the trailer. He loves them so much and sees them making money so he said "hey, we could do that couldn't we".
                                                I am actually more interested in doing breakfast than cranking out burgers all day long. I have my own chickens and know plenty of farmers with farm chickens. My woman makes an amazing pancake batter that just happens to be gluten free. It uses coconut flour and we make a berry syrup to go over them and it's to die for. What do you mean by "egg burger"?

                                                1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                                  there is a chain out west called fatburger, though the present franchaise seems different than the hole in the wall stands of my youth. one of their claims to fame is a burger topped with a fried egg. i think jack in the box does this now with a hash brown patty, too.

                                                  1. re: divadmas

                                                    If you really want to be radical you could do a "burger with the lot" which is the classic Aussie style. It has the usual things, cheese, bacon plus the fried egg, beetroot and pineapple.

                                              2. re: carolinadawg

                                                A "gourmet" is a connoisseur of food and drink. If a hamburger is sufficiently better so that someone who is a good judge of quality in food recognizes it as superior to most hamburgers, then it can be said to be "gourmet."

                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                  Thanks. I was asking the OP in order to be able to answer his/her question.

                                              3. Here's the menu for the Umami Burger chain in CA. You probably don't want to get too wild and crazy (and have leftover expensive ingredients) but these look really good and you could over time incorporate some ideas into yours.


                                                BTW, our fave burger for a couple of years now is a pork one. We grind our own pork shoulder and it's delish.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Oh man, shoulder ground up into burgers! What a good idea.

                                                  1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                                    Here's a picture. On an English muffin which has become our go-to.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        We got such a chuckle out of last night's burgers, just have to post a couple of pix. Four ounce pork patty, grilled mushrooms and onions, avocado and tomato. STACKED!!!

                                                          1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                                            Funny you should ask :) I 'smushed' mine down as much as possible and then nibbled around the edges to start.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      ohmygod the umami burgers.....wow....I'm so hungry

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        I wouldn't call it ground: it's more finely minced.

                                                        Yeah, they're good. A bit pricey to eat there often, but they had one of the better burgers I've eaten - and didn't have to be loaded up with Hatch peppers or bacon or anything else.

                                                      2. I think you need to stick with thinner patties that are cooked all the way through. Otherwise you have to worry about disclaimers and liability for illness due to undercooked meat. With food trucks and trailers, the public perception (correct or not) is that sanitation is more iffy than in brick-and-mortar establishments. Your customers will be more confident about well-done patties.

                                                        An unusual condiment or two will attract interest. A hot dog wagon near me has a sort of slaw/relish hybrid that people love. You can mix a little chili sauce into mayo, maybe with some chive or scallion, and dream up a name for your special sauce.

                                                        People with serious gluten intolerance/celiac disease will probably not be your demographic, since they don't want to take any chance at cross-contamination by things like
                                                        assembling burgers on the same surface as the wheat buns.

                                                        I assume your food desert has fast food outlets like McD's. So no dearth of cheap fries that taste good. You can't compete with their prices for that and since your demographic is short on foodies, it may not pay to hand-cut your fries. I'd suggest using mass-market ones, or else making hand-cut potato chips. A cafe near me used to do this. They were cut a scant eighth inch thick, then deepfried until golden brown. So they were neither as thin or crisp as a packaged potato chip, nor as soft and thick as a french fry. They were served room temp or slightly warm, and were a big hit. People willingly paid a little more because they perceived this as a unique product.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          I already bought the potato slicer. It's like a machine that has an arm that just shoots them out. It's really not that time consuming and honestly a little fun. I feel like if I can just be a cut above the rest I will be fine. I am going to do thinner patties. I think for several reasons, including the ones you listed, thin patties will be the best option. Quick. Easy. Cost efficient.

                                                        2. I had my 50th anniversary yesterday. You can do the math to see how old I am. I am eating a burger right now. I mixed lean ground with ground sausage, peppered, cooked slow until you see red rising to the top. Flip and top with havarti, sharp for the husband, on a whole wheat bun. That's what I like, sometimes I add add several spinach leaves and oregano and cover upon flipping. Oh, gotta have MAYO.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: TimsMom1

                                                            Lol "timsmom" nice name. Your burger sounds heavenly. I like the idea of combining meats to make a patty. The spinach and oregano. Great idea. I was thinking about doing like a mayo infused with some bacon grease. I know that's a bit...decadent but sounds delicious.

                                                          2. In the late 70s, a gourmet burger joint opened up in downtown Oakland, CA.

                                                            One version was marinated in burgundy wine, grilled, then topped with blue cheese. Another was marinated in teriyaki, grilled, then topped with lightly ground macadamia nuts and a thin slice of grilled pineapple.

                                                            The shop didn't last too long, it was just too far ahead of the curve for the Bay Area. I still make burgers like that though.


                                                              1. re: thegforceny

                                                                My response to where I have been the last decade is a decade ago I was only twelve and still pretty into McDonald's or whatever

                                                                1. re: Drewstinkcheese

                                                                  These posts make me smile...since a decade ago...I was 57!!!

                                                              2. There are "gourmet" fries like truffled fries or fries fried in duck fat, but those don't seem like they would work for the clientele you are targeting. I'd go with garlic fries, or garlic parmesan fries -- something different than the norm, but still familiar. Or stick with plain fries and offer different dipping sauces -- garlic aioli, chipotle ketchup, gravy, etc.

                                                                For burgers, I think you are better off making simple burgers, but good ones. Maybe offer 3-4 "upgrades", like sauteed mushrooms, bacon, fried egg, etc. Dont' make it too complicated because then it becomes difficult to keep up with the orders. Use good quality meat. There are a couple food trucks in my area that I like because they offer their burgers in different sizes -- I can get a junior burger, while DH gets the super burger. Everyone's happy.

                                                                1. This is gourmet to me. I love burgers and fries

                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                    Looks GREAT!!!! And I'd offer degrees of doneness if OP is comfortable with that. With the usual disclaimer about the FDA rec.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Only thing I'd change here is the bun; the meat and the fries look world-class (although it's difficult to tell by visuals alone). But the bun looks like one of the mass-produced fluffy-cottony types.

                                                                      Is this your own creation or is it from a restaurant? If the latter I'd love to know where it is so that if I happen to journey into the area I can visit some day.

                                                                      1. re: AlexRast

                                                                        I think you meant to reply to scubadoo :)

                                                                        1. re: AlexRast

                                                                          The bun was Pepperidge Farm mass produced crap. Although with BBQ I like the bun as a vehicle and don't want much emphasis on it being a star

                                                                          The burger was done sous vide so looks more rare than it is. It's my own creation or abomination depending on your point of view.

                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                            Ooh, sous vide burger? Would it be too off topic to find out more about that? After one disappointing SV experience, we've been traveling so much that I haven't returned. Doing a dry aged rib steak next. Burgers sound intriguing.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              Burger was bagged using a zip bag to avoid compression. 6 oz patty At 130f for a couple of hours then seared off in a hot cast iron pan. The meat looks very rare but lacks the rare/raw texture of conventional cooking. Soft yet cooked through. Granted I also like the crusties formed with a smash burger. But this was more time forgiving

                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                I need to get around to doing a sv burger. I've just been loving smashed ones since I got my circulators though.

                                                                                C oliver, dry aged ribeyes are some of the best things I've ever had sous vide. So good. Make sure you do a nice pre-sear before you bag it up.

                                                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                  There's always that difference of opinion whether to sear before or after. Probably best that I start a thread on that.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    But if you only do it once, it's gotta be after.
                                                                                    Start that thread up

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      For a burger I'd suggest searing after to retain the char texture

                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                        For a burger I would not pre-sear.
                                                                                        Also for lamb you don't want to pre-sear because it can develop mutton flavors on long cooks.

                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                  sous vide burger would change the eating habits of the entire Ozarks.

                                                                                  1. re: genoO

                                                                                    Hey, we love boil-in-a-bag food. Let me tell you 'bout campfire eggs.

                                                                                3. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                  Maybe a difference in approach here. It would be a rare thing for me to think of any fairly central part of a food as a "vehicle" - or, put another way, to me, if it really is nothing more than a vehicle, then why not just dispense with it altogether (i.e. just the patty)?

                                                                                  But it does seem to judge from the evidence out there in the world that a lot of people, possibly even the majority, do look upon particularly the bun of a burger as a "vehicle" in the sense of something about which they don't care what it's like.

                                                                                  However once you've decided that a vehicle is what you need it seems to me that a comfortable journey in a top-of-the-line Mercedes is more pleasant that a rattling trip in an old battered Fiat. So I reckon, why not go for as good as you can get anyway?

                                                                                  It should be said that the bun itself needn't distract in the sense of having so much flavour or being so different that it starts to compete with the meat; but something with enough structure to support even a heavy patty, a texture that complements the meat rather than disappearing into a paste, would seem to be a worthy modification.

                                                                                  I have to try sous vide some time. The concept occurred to me independently some years ago but I assumed at the time it would be a DIY job to build the equipment necessary to do it.

                                                                                  1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                    Alex - I agree - I would actually go a little further and say that a great burger is an interaction between all the ingredients - the pattie, the bun, the sauces, the cheese, and the garnishes. A great burger needs to balance all of these things, otherwise its simply grilled meat.

                                                                                    Not only does the bun need to carry the ingredients but it should have a flavour and texture that adds to the taste. It needs to be fairly neutral but not invisible, or worse still cheap and detracting from the overall product.

                                                                                    Scuby seems to have a pretty good start - he now needs to get his baking books out to perfect his buns.

                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                      Problem is I don't bake. Well very little. Too much measuring

                                                                                4. re: AlexRast

                                                                                  I do agree, better bread would have elevated the dish. In reality, this was a causal approach to a new cooking technique without a lot of planning for the ultimate burger. The white bread bun allowed the meat to shine though with little to distract from the meat.

                                                                            2. What does gourmet mean anyway.......... you can use very high end ingredients in any dish.. does that make it gourmet?

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                A hundred and eighty degrees from fast food burgers :)

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Back in 80's Houston we had a place called Hamburgers By Gourmet. They were chargrilled to order, used cheddar instead of cheap American, and fresh cut fries. Whenever I went to lunch it was the usual where are you going? Answer, Gourmet and there were no takers as everyone wanted the bad fast food burgers for a dollar or two less. Bonus, I got a good burger and didn't have to haul back a bunch of stuff for the crew.

                                                                                2. re: cwdonald

                                                                                  Gourmet is French for "twice the price". Compare to the Italian "artisanal".

                                                                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                    I would personally draw a distinction between good burgers/fries and gourmet burgers/fries. In other words, "gourmet" doesn't simply mean "better than fast food".

                                                                                    Good burgers - home ground beef, cooked to order (probably on a grill), topped with good quality ingredients (real cheese, fresh vegetables, etc), served in a lightly toasted bun that's squishy enough to eat easily without being soggy. Toppings added either by request, or by the customer, and tailored to each order.

                                                                                    Good fries - hand cut potatoes of the right type, double fried with the second frying occurring after you order them.

                                                                                    Gourmet, to me, would imply very high end or exotic ingredients - truffle fries, fois gras topped waygu beef burgers, that sort of thing.

                                                                                    For the OP, I do like the suggestion upthread of going for the more "good burger" vibe than exotic ingredients - grind the beef yourself, char-grilled, a range of interesting toppings for the burgers (real cheeses, home-made relish and BBQ sauce, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, etc). Have a couple of standard combinations listed to make things easier - cheese and bacon burger with customer's choice of cheese, mushroom and blue cheese, cheddar and jalapeno, avocado and bacon.

                                                                                    For fries - good basic fries, but with a few options, either toppings (garlic fries, poutine, chili fries) or dips (garlic mayo, fry sauce, mayo, etc).

                                                                                  2. Come to think of it there are other country diner favorites that could be revisited too, like Frito pies and breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches.

                                                                                    1. For myself. I enjoy sliders. I would like to travel to Detroit, to have a slider at Telway, or White Castle. That would be a gourmet to me.

                                                                                      1. Get the bun right. No puffy chemical crap.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                          That's why we went with English muffins.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            While it is a good thing to love your work, never forget it is supposed to make money.
                                                                                            You need to know your cost even if your price is based on something else.

                                                                                        2. "Gourmet" is a dumb and pretentious word that deserves to be put to sleep.

                                                                                          1. The Sandwich Factory in Colombo, Sri Lanka has gourmet-ified burgers very successfully. Those are some of the best burgers I've ever had ever (yes, bad English - they're that good!).

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Here's their website:


                                                                                                Well, let's take one burger, for example. "JALAPENO BURGER - A juicy burger patty stuffed with Jalapeno, cheese and basted with red hot haberino sauce. Served on top of salsa and lettuce.
                                                                                                BEEF/CHICKEN Rs. 410.00"

                                                                                                Habanero spelling aside, the burger tastes great! The patties are thick, juicy, and flavourful. None of this flat barely-there dried-out patty thing. You *know* the meat is there. You can taste the jalapenos. They use real cheese. So the habanero sauce may not be hot enough for me, but I have a freakish tolerance of spice levels, so this is unsurprising. It's the combination of flavours that works very well.

                                                                                                We've talked to the owner a few times. He's a genuinely nice guy who wants to serve good food at a reasonable price. He's succeeding. In Sri Lanka, it's more common for restaurants to serve good food for a few months and then it starts to go downhill as the owner starts to cut corners and costs and go with less of the good stuff or substituting with other ingredients that just don't work as well. This place hasn't done that. It's been consistently very good.

                                                                                                1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                  So jalapenos are indigenous to Sri Lanka? Wow

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    No, they're not. Other peppers, like the ghost pepper/bhut jolokia are, along with others that aren't as hot. Sri Lankan food in general is quite hot, spicewise - it ranks right up at the top of the list of hottest cuisines in the world. I suspect this place uses jalapenos for the expats. Habaneros and hotter peppers are more along the lines of what Sri Lankans eat.

                                                                                            1. Anyone ever try putting Port Wine cheese on a burger? I love Port Wine cheese and think it might be tasty.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                I think any cheese you like will be great on a burger!

                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  Since folks are putting pimiento cheese on burgers these days I don't see why not.

                                                                                              2. oh yes they can be gourmet but the term is subjective-as for fries, yes most definitely

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. Drew, I think you should check out all of the locally famous hamburgers, and then do something sort of like but enough difference to get notice. For example, if everyone loves fat pub-house burgers that are thickened with a little bread or whatever, take that into account. Do a fat thick burger but more meaty, with fried onion or something, more sear. If everyone around loves thin crispy burgers, do that, but with better toppings or a bigger pile of patties or whatever.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Teague

                                                                                                    its interesting how peppers are such a big part of asian cuisine but are indigenous to america and and were only transfered to asia around the 16th century.

                                                                                                    1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                      It is utterly fascinating. But then, tomatoes are a cornerstone of Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines (though many regions in those countries use them less). And of course potatoes, Irish, German, Polish etc are actually from the Andes.

                                                                                                      1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                        Divadmas, the 16th century was 500 years ago.

                                                                                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                          Even if the peppers and potatoes walked, I don't think it would have taken that much time.

                                                                                                    2. They can be gourmet if you take the hamburger to your home, chop it up, and fry it with spices, garlic, ginger, fresh turmeric root and already cooks lentils or beans, and add many a hot pepper, and throw the buns to your neighbor's dog.

                                                                                                      But even then, I would prefer using mince, not a hamburger.

                                                                                                      There is a myth since the last roughly 5 to 7 years, about the hamburger. That myth has turned into a craze, with store fronts containing "burger" in the name, and bars with tapped beer and even wine lists. The burger has been lifted to that of a cuisine. Horrendous.

                                                                                                      I was at HB Burger for beer, recently. The menu for food was a total turn off. It was all burgers, basically.

                                                                                                      This is a photo of Moo Burger found on the internet.

                                                                                                      I am confused. It is not that I refuse to buy into the new burger trend, it is that I just can't.