My bike chain snapped on the way from work to happy hour at Haute Dish, so I took a Nice Ride, and I’m late meeting Madeleine with the looming cost of bike repairs at the forefront of my thoughts.
But at first bite, all my concerns melt away, like the American cheese melted perfectly on this fucking burger. This is a poor use of simile, obviously, because my concerns kind of disappeared, but both slices of cheese are still prominently featured in both my accompanying photograph and the burger itself. But “melt” is a bad metaphor for disappearing since it means “turned to liquid,” so I’m still more right than whoever came up with the phrase “melt away.”
The legendary Haute Dish burger was on my list before I even had a list. In fact it, among a few others, might be the reason this blog exists at all: because I just wanted to eat the best burgers in town, and this one is on everyone else’s list. Then, not documenting my burger consumption became a worse idea than talking way too much about it. And now you’re reading this.
We came here with the sole intention of getting the burger & a pint deal, which is a goddamn steal at $10 for happy hour. The burger’s normally $13 and comes with fries. We decided to split an order of fries for $6, which was a terrific idea. They’re twice-fried…and now I’m trying to make a “once bitten, twice fried” joke, but I hope no one’s biting my potatoes before they fry them, but if that’s part of the recipe, please carry on biting my fries, you weirdo, because they’re delicious. They’re tossed in some kind of magical ketchup powder and served with aioli. Get the fries. The most difficult part of this was deciding which beer to get.
The menu offers no description, so everything I know about this burger’s minutiae I found in Star Tribune food critic Rick Nelson’s Burger Friday column. I was about to paraphrase that article, but fuck it. This burger comes “no temps, no substitutions”, and so does Nelson’s article; I can’t honestly improve it, so I’m not gonna try. If you want the nitty-gritty, follow the link. Here’s my experience.
According to David Chang’s burger manifesto, Haute Dish doing nearly everything wrong. So then why does it taste so good?This burger has been meticulously engineered to taste like the best classic burger you’ve never had, and therein lies the trick: it tastes like the memory of a burger that you can spend your whole life chasing — every burger you can order at any casual chain restaurant in any strip mall that just doesn’t taste right enough. They manage to nail that memory, while enhancing it with flavor notes and nuances you didn’t know you wanted.
The patty doesn’t have a sear as much as a crust, which blew me away texturally. As I’ve already stated, I’m into a good sear, but this is next level shit. It’s got that overcooked charred texture like your dad used to make, except it tastes good. The inside is juicy and perfect. I already covered the American cheese, like the American cheese covered this patty (and that’s how you simile). There’s bacon, because bacon. On the bun, under the patty, you’ve got the classics: pickle slices, tomato, raw onion, iceberg lettuce, giving you that exact fucking burgery-burgerness you still dream about. While everyone else in town took these overdone staples off their hamburger, Haute Dish said “fuck the haters.” Then they top the whole thing off with a tangy mushroom salad. And a bun, obviously. But the devil’s in the details, and this devil is your friend. There was the slightest hint of blue cheese, whose presence I couldn’t put my finger on until I read about the nitrogen-freezed smoked gorgonzola powder mixed into the meat in the Nelson article. It’s one of those implausible wonders of gastronomic left-field monkey-wrenchery that no one’s going to figure out on their own, and the result is subtle but beautiful. They sauce it with aioli and a horseradishy mustard — just enough to not dominate but to give it that hint of classic burgerness that I can’t stop talking about.
I’m a guy who tends to like food simple and straightforward, but I appreciate the amount of work put into making ludicrously overthought burger taste so damn simple and straightforward. It punched me directly in the nostalgia balls and replaced any preconceptions about what a “classic” burger should taste like. Next time I’m in the mood for it, I know where to go.