The Revival Burger at Revival: “Black velvet in that slow southern style…”

Revival BurgerI’m by no means an expert on Southern food, nor would I ever claim to be, mostly because that’s often followed by a resounding “OH REALLY?!” and someone else’s what’s-what. Then you get into arguments about how to make cornbread, like there’s some fucking specific best way of making it without regional differences, and it’s all fucking tasty anyway. This might be a metaphor for Burger Fetish, but it’s mostly a disclaimer before I talk about how much I love Southern food.

But I do love Southern food. Growing up, my family spent two weeks every summer at a beach house in North Carolina to eat tons of fucking seafood that my younger self couldn’t have cared less about. But I lived for the occasional trip inland to hit up a now-shuttered barbecue joint called Joe’s for hush puppies, pulled pork, coleslaw, Brunswick Stew, and sweettea [sic, sorta ’cause it’s one word, phonetically, if you know what I’m saying rather than typing].

Minnesota-born, North Carolina-reared Chef Thomas Boemer serves up stupid-good Southern-tinged fine dining at Corner Table. So when I heard the Corner Table team was going all-in on Revival, a Southern comfort food joint with fried chicken as its centerpiece, my taste buds went all aflutter with the promise of a nostalgia-laden trip down Nicollet Avenue to the Carolina coast. Sure, Chef Boemer leans Lexington-style, but I can be flexible. Like I said: regional differences, but close enough.

On my first visit, I find out they’ve got a burger, and I put it on my list, but I couldn’t bring myself to get it that time. I wanted to try as many things as possible, and we did pretty good on that front, taking a cross-section of the menu, sampling a variety of outstanding food that carries the definition of comfort. But If you wanna eat a burger, you have to go and eat a burger. Maybe get an appetizer, but it’s hard to eat fried chicken and a burger (is it, though? Did I just say that?). So when I went on my second visit, we got nearly as much food, but with the understanding that I absolutely 100% needed to get a burger this time. And oh boy.

I continue to believe that there is no such thing as a perfect burger, but damn is this a good one. Damn. You’ve got two patties that are all ground shortrib, which has a high fat content — essential — and I honestly expected a little more chew, but they were awesomely tender, and cooked perfectly. I’ve been really into double patties lately — these are things you say when you have a burger blog — ’cause in the trade-off between surface area sear and one big fat juicy patty, I’ve been leaning toward increasing surface area and putting a slice of cheese on each, which they do. The patties were well-seasoned and delicious, and american cheese is just so necessary. It melts in a way that only american cheese can. For sauce, they go with mayo. Just mayo! And the bread-and-butter pickles that they must go through about a million of a day (they also come with the superpopular Tennessee Hot fried chicken). It’s simplicity at its finest, taking the essence of everything that makes a simple burger great and just doing it very very well.

But also this:

“Do you want to add bacon?” my server asks me when I order the burger. “I usually like to get a burger as-is…” “We recommend the bacon. It’s made in-house, double-smoked.” “Okay, then.” And, like, whoa. You want smokiness? Get the bacon. It enhances the burger. I would also recommend the bacon. But, then why not put it on there by default? I’m going for a show-me-what-you-got approach on this blog, and add-ons don’t factor into that. From a restaurant’s standpoint, though, I can see an add-on being a simpler conversation than an omission: “I don’t eat pork. can I get the burger without bacon?” “Sure.” “And it costs the same?” “Yes.” “Why?”

But at the same time: get the bacon. Do yourself a favor.

I don’t know if there’s anything specifically Southern about this burger, or if anything I said about Southern food at the top of this post is of any consequence to how much I loved it, but I did. I loved this burger and I love this restaurant, and I’m glad Minneapolis has both.

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