There's no debating the burger trend sweeping the country. One could say the economy's dive has stimulated our craving for nostalgic -- and cheap -- foods. Whatever the case, Americans are burger crazy and Atlanta chefs are cashing in.
Arnaud Berthelier, executive chef at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead (3434 Peachtree Road, 404-237-2700. www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Buckhead), is one of the newest players on the burger scene. The Dining Room has long been a paragon of excellence, but who can actually afford the extravagance these days? Berthelier has debuted a special burger menu with optional beer pairings by sommelier Robert Evans and manager Claude Guillaume. It's available daily in the Lobby Lounge from 11 a.m. to midnight at a relatively cheap price, considering the Dining Room's tasting menu starts at $90 per person.
Burgers are served on buttery brioche buns, and all – minus the sliced duck confit burger – are made with Strube Ranch American Kobe beef custom-ground to the chef's specifications. Each burger, except for the Cadillac, comes with golden waffle-cut fries.
Prices start at $16 for the Classic, a monstrous hand-formed patty of juicy beef topped with gooey and earthy Vermont cheddar, crunchy applewood bacon, and mayo with a hint of sherry. The Rivieria ($18) is just as hearty as its mates, but lighter in impact thanks to peppery arugula, tangy tomato confit, mozzarella and Parmesan. If you do decide to splurge, there's the $65 Deluxe, made with seared foie gras, sliced truffle, aged Comté, Bibb lettuce and Merlot sauce.
The only downside to the burgers is their presentation. Each is placed in a narrow paper-lined poplar box that, while slick, makes the eating experience cumbersome. It can be difficult to extract the burger with all of its components intact, but the flavor is well worth the work.
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