2009 Burger Bonanza: Bix, Naturally
Welcome to the 2009 Burger Bonanza wherein two girls eat 20 of the city's best burgers, on the path to burger enlightenment. The 10 best will then be chosen to be featured—in ranking order—in 7x7's September magazine issue. Burgers must fit our "fancy burger" parameter: made with beef and available as part of the regular dinner menu at upscale restaurants in SF. Beyond that, we're open to suggestions, which we hope you will leave in the comment box below!
Beef: Creekstone chuck, pre-ground
Bun: Panorama Bakery
Fixings: Little Gem lettuce, tomato, raw red onion, housemade bread-and-butter pickles
Condiments: Ketchup, housemade aïoli
Cooked: In a cast-iron skillet, weighted with Bruce Hill's patented burger press.
Comes with: Fries
That Bix makes a mighty fine burger should come as no surprise to anyone who's ever been there. That bar, with its iced martini glasses, tenders sporting cropped white jackets and supperclubby feel, is one of the city's best burger-eating venues. You can order the full menu there (though it must be said that even on a Tuesday night you might have to wait an hour—really!—for a seat at the bar), which means you have a choice between the truffled pecorino cheeseburger or the Bix Club burger. The former is a burger in name alone—a generous patty of well-seasoned beef set on a round of buttered rye bread, larded with truffles, topped with pecorino and a thick slice of slow-cooked onion in place of a top bun. It is crazy delicious, but it's also $27.50. That's a lot of scratch for a burger.
The Club burger, on the other hand, subscribes to more classic burger rules: a poppy-seed bun, lettuce, tomato and raw red onion, housemade bread-and-butter pickles, aïoli and ketchup. The proportions of this burger are just right. The beef patty, which is cooked in a cast-iron skillet, weighted with chef Bruce Hill's patented (really!) burger press, is exactly the right size for the Panorama bun—you never get that unfortunate dry bite of bun only. But, I do have a gripe. And it's kind of big deal. Right now, Bix is making big news of the fact that they have a tomato cart wheeling through the dining room, showcasing the finest fruits of the season by pairing slices of tomato with housemade mozzarella, fine olive oil, delicious salt and freshly snipped basil. People all up and down the bar were ordering plates of Caprese salad, and while I'm not inclined to pay $13.50 for the pleasure, the tomatoes looked like primo specimens. But the tomatoes on that Club burger? Pale pink, almost white, and crisp. A tomato travesty! At $16.50 for that burger, I think the kitchen could afford to slap a slice of those fancy Brandywines on the plate.