Monday, November 22, 2010

Flip Burger Boutique - Atlanta and Birmingham

My two favorite words are currently Flip and Burger. Together, they equal the Flip Burger Boutique with locations in Midtown and Buckhead, Atlanta as well as Birmingham, Alabama. I cannot recall the last time I had such a purely fun dining experience. Flip Burger is a hip, high-end burger restaurant, aptly called a boutique as somehow the term restaurant does not do the ambiance justice. Think old fashion diner meets California modern. Sleek and yet cozy, white leather banquets line the left wall, bar height white lacquered tables fill the middle of the room in perfectly tight rows, and a modern soda fountain/bar wraps the right wall, hung with ornate, white framed, flat screen TVs.

One look at the menu and we realize this is no ordinary burger joint. The menu is split between eight or nine grass fed beef versions and roughly the same number of non-beef "burgers", all of which are creative and represent a very diverse mix of flavors. The sides and starters were equally innovative, for instance, we decided to kick-off our meal with an order of buffalo sweetbreads served with sides of both ranch and blue cheese foam. Not your everyday Applebees fare, these were battered and fried before being dipped in the buffalo sauce making them crispy, exhibiting the perfect amount of chew and tenderness. The foams are a whole story unto themselves. Delicate in flavor and as weightless as an extremely light whipped butter, they balanced the slight kick of the buffalo sauce. Our waitress, upon catching me dipping into the foams directly after the sweetbreads were gone, shared with me that her guilty pleasure was dipping french fries into the foams - oh my (said like George Takai)!
Korean BBQ Burger

Alongside the sweetbreads we shared a large beets and goat's cheese salad, which was loaded with sweet, roasted, red and yellow beets and balanced by spicy arugula.

After deciding I would have to revisit to work my way through every burger on the menu for instance the lobster, the gyro or the ossobuco, the pressure eased and I opted for the Korean BBQ burger, which consisted of American wagyu beef, topped with a braised short rib, kimchee ketchup, pickled vegetables, and sesame krispies. Wagyu, a breed of cattle known for its marbled meat and rich flavor, made this the most flavorful beef burger, I have ever had.  Add to that, the rich taste of the tender short rib, the tang of the kimchee ketchup and pickled vegetables and the flavors simply rang.

Mark opted for the chorizo burger, which was a spicy pork burger, topped with a fried egg, finely grated hash browns, manchego cheese, romesco ketchup and smoked mayo.  The smokey spicy flavors made for a unique burger that because of the messiness factor, disappeared all too quickly.  What I have not yet confided in you, is that we loved our experience at Flip burger in Atlanta so much, we found our car on autopilot to the Birmingham location on the way back to Oxford, the next day.  While it felt completely wrong to order the same thing a day later, particularly with so many options, Mark loved the chorizo burger so much that did just that and had no regrets!
Chorizo Burger

Nutella and Burned Marshmallow Shake
We could not leave the Atlanta venue without partaking in one of their famous milkshakes.  Earlier in the meal I experienced an incredibly fresh mango martini, and therefore I knew we were in for a treat from the bar.  We decided to split a nutella and burned marshmallow shake.  While the foams earlier should have tipped us off, we did not fully realize the molecular gastronomic skill of chef Richard Blais, until our smoking milkshakes arrived, laden with liquid nitrogren.  We later learned that Blais, worked with a the leader in the molecular gastronomic movement, Ferran Adria.  Not only were the shakes creative, but the hazelnut flavor of the nutella certainly fulfilled my chocolate craving.  The burnt marshmallows were a nice addition once dunked in the nutella shake, but alone were a little reminiscent of the childhood campfire marshmallow that lingered a little too long on the stick. 

We were not even out the door of the Atlanta shop, when we began planning our lunch menu for the Birmingham Flip burger the next day.  It is safe to say were were hooked.

Birmingham Flip Burger Boutique
Breathtakingly hip might begin to describe the Birmingham store.  This restaurant had all the white leather coolness of the Atlanta location, yet the ceiling was completely covered in beautiful graffiti drawing the eye up and then down the length of the store at the end of which were floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the Birmingham hills.

We began our lunch with a cucumber salad that now has me on an impossible mission to replicate it.  Thinly sliced cucumbers were tossed with tomatoes, watercress, feta cheese, onions, a bright vinaigrette and just the right amount of salt. 

As previously mentioned, Mark ordered the chorizo burger again and I opted for the crab burger, which was  light, full of big chucks of crab meat, topped with brussel slaw, sour apple, mustard seed caviar, and a cajun mayonnaise.  This delightful lunch popped in flavor, the sour apples juxtaposed alongside the sweet crab, all without the heft of the beef and pork dishes. 

Crab Burger
While I was dying to try the foie gras milkshake, we compromised and selected the pistachio and white truffle version.  A hint of truffle added depth to the mildly sweet pistachio flavor, making this a less cloying option than our aforementioned nutella shake.

Pistachio and White Truffle Shake
Our skilled waiter, who further enhanced our love fest with flip burger, brought over extra liquid nitrogen to show us how it worked by freezing the top of my glass of water.  Now that is dining entertainment!

Flip burger epitomizes the brilliance of selecting one idea and executing it flawlessly. Ingredients are high quality, the menu is kept to one page with frequent minor changes, based upon seasonality, and the atmosphere is artistically hip.  To those of you who live in Birmingham and Atlanta, remember that I am just a call away from joining you on your next trip to Flip burger!

FLIP Burger Boutique Buckhead on Urbanspoon