Posts Tagged ‘foie gras’

The Best Burger in North America

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Hi! I just got back from a super fun week in Chicago that ended in fucktardedness when rain (yes, rain) canceled my flight (and a gazillion others’) and I was stuck in O’Hare for 9 hours, and didn’t get home until 2 am.

ANYWAY, for reasons that will become clear in nine paragraphs, a MUST EAT stop was Sweets & Savories.

Let’s get some boring stuff out of the way. Namely, our apps. Keller’s app was a beautiful gnocchi with escar–

–wait, let me backtrack more. First of all, their website is weird. It has an interface reminiscent of when you call that dude that helps you with maps and shit in Metal Gear. But it’s cool. When we actually got there, we thought we had the wrong place. I refused to get out of the cab until I called them:

Me: Ummmm…where are you located again?
Them: 1534 Fullerton.
Me: Yeah but like, what’s near you?
Them: Our cross street is Ashland.
Me: I mean, what is like, exactly next door to you?
Them: An empty lot.
Me: And then an…insurance? Company? On your other side?
Them: Yes.

So the immediate neighborhood seemed kind of sketch, and there was NO ONE in the restaurant (economy? Tuesday night?) but it was the cutest space. The menu was one of those where EVERYTHING looked so fucking fabulous. My heart, though, beat for only one item – the foie gras burger.

This will go down as the easiest post to write of all time, because it’s been written for me beautifully yet hilariously by Peter Sagal, most famous for being the host of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me in the Best Food Writing 2008 (a gift from Christopher), writing (originally in Saveur) about Chicago’s foie gras ban.

“This is the silliest ordinance the City Council has ever passed,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley.”

“What about my hamburger?” said my wife, Beth, who just wanted her hamburger.

Specifically: the $17 hamburger at Sweets & Savories, on Fullerton Avenue, which the menu describes as “Strube Ranch American Kobe beef with foie gras pate and truffled mayonnaise and toasted brioche roll” and which, when served with a side of duck-fat fries, is the kind of meal God would cook for houseguests if God were a 12-year-old kid.

Seventeen dollars is a lot to pay for hamburger, especially one that does not come with a toy in the bag, but a couple things you should know are, first, that it is enormous, the size you remember your first Big Mac’s being when you finally convinced your parents that you were old enough to graduate from McNuggets, and, second, that the heat from the beef melts the pate, just a little bit, so it seems to absorb the truffle mayo above it and then ineluctably swirls into both the beef and the bread, infecting them with glory, the way Agent Smith converted everybody into himself in those awful Matrix sequels. The result inspires guttural grunts of pleasure as you realize you must put the burger down, because if you don’t, it will fall apart, but instead you take another bite mmmph mmmph mmmph.

So. Back to boring stuff like Keller’s gnocchi with escargot, market mushrooms, arugula, and pecorino. Um, that was sarcasm. I have re-read that bit a number of times and can’t tell if it comes across correctly sarcastic. The gnocchi was not boring. It was…garlicky, smooth, sticky, and the escargot sent a shiver down my spine, half because it was so rich and pleasingly chewy, half because I was like, “can I taste snail eyeball right now? I think I taste snail eyeball.”

My soup: roasted sweet potato bisque with crème fraiche mousseline and crispy sage. For a eight years of my life I spent summers with a foodie family, the dad of which would pick sage leaves from the garden out back, crispy-fry them in good olive oil, and then sprinkle them with kosher salt. We would eat these like potato chips. Glorious. So that was my favorite part of this soup. The soup was good, though something you might get easily at other restaurants aside from the sage.

To keep a finger food vibe, we got Croque Madame for our other entree (smoked ham, gruyere, béchamel, fried farm egg, and grain mustard). Whatever vitamin is in egg yolk (I think it’s called…cholesterol? Yeah.), I think I was craving it. I wanted yolk, and I got it, basically everywhere. Messatron Max.

BUT NOT AS MESSY AS MY FOIE BURGER!

“Mmmph” is exactly the noise that came out of me as I shoved it down my gullet. Our server came over, saw me, and said, “How is every — actually, I’ll just come back later.”

I don’t need to describe the burger, as it has already been done exquisitely by Sagal above. The only difference is that our fries were fried in beef tallow, not duck fat. Oh no! (Sarcasm again – I was just as excited.)

OH SHIT! I forgot to mention that we did the prix fixe menu – app, entree, and dessert for $36. I always worry about prix fixe because I never want dessert, so in the end it always never seems worth it. So I asked, at the beginning, for the dessert menu to confirm that there was anything I wanted.

Oh, there was something I wanted alright.

I wanted the Meyer lemon curd tart with blueberry compote and soft cream. Super tart.

Oh, and this -

Warm Belgium chocolate fondant cake with cocoa sorbet and chocolate ganache sauce. I was awfully tempted by other items with cool ice creams (white pepper ice cream, brown butter ice cream) but Keller is a chocolate fiend so…

So, the main star of the night was, clearly, the burger. I didn’t even wipe my hands on my napkin before pawing at my iPhone to tell everyone about the burger I just had.

…There should be a word for an obnoxious foodie. An obnoxfoo?

Sweets & Savories
1534 W Fullerton
Chicago, IL
773.281.6778