Restaurants attempting to make their hamburgers stand out continue to search for new things to put on top of them.
House-made sauces, unusual lettuces and signature cheese combinations have all found their way atop America’s favorite sandwich, but a number of restaurants have started topping the meat with more meat.
Besides bacon, a common addition, pastrami, pulled pork and brisket are being piled on burgers.
Michael LaScola, chef of American Seasons restaurant in Nantucket, Mass., sometimes puts oxtail “marmalade” — braised oxtail mixed with caramelized onion — on the nightly changing burger offered at the bar in the fall.
The burger is also topped with cheese and arugula and served on a brioche bun.
“That usually goes over pretty well,” LaScola said.
He also periodically uses pan-seared country pâté or foie gras as a burger topping.
At Doc Crow’s in Louisville, Ky., the Bubba Burger is half-pound beef patty topped with pulled pork, beef brisket, a fried green tomato, onion rings, a fried egg and cole slaw.
Carlsbad, Calif.-based family-dining chain Carrows topped a hamburger with pastrami as a limited-time offer this summer.
Smashburger, a fast-casual chain based in Denver, creates a signature item for each market it enters, In Brooklyn, N.Y., the chain’s Brooklyn burger is topped with Swiss cheese, pickles, onion, yellow mustard and grilled pastrami on a pretzel bun.
Red Robin’s seasonal Oktoberfest Bürger also puts beef on a pretzel bun. The bun is brushed with beer mustard and topped with a beef patty, Swiss cheese, beer-mustard sautéed onions, green leaf lettuce and black forest ham.
Seafood is also making its way onto burgers.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant’s lobster burger is a 10-ounce burger patty topped with 1.5 ounces of lobster drizzled with citrus sauce.
At Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston, chef Jeremy Sewall tops a burger with Cheddar cheese, bacon, pickled onions, horseradish mayonnaise and two fried oysters.
“It’s becoming a little bit of a cult thing in the restaurant,” said Sewall, who has kept the burger on the menu since the restaurant opened about a year ago. “People who have ordered it before love it.”
Pick up the Oct. 10 issue of Nation's Restaurant News, and read "Full of Flavor" to see how chefs are using their creativity and digging deep into fatty beef cuts with burgers.