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: Pre-ground Niman Ranch
Fixings: Roma tomato slices, romaine lettuce, house-pickled zucchini and red onion and rémoulade sauce
Cooked: Cooked in a cast-iron skillet over an open flame
Comes with: Fresh Kennebec potato fries
In a moment of good timing, Saveur just came out with their “Burger Bible” in the September issue of the magazine. Leslie Brenner writes the opening article: “The Perfect Food: A Hamburger Wakes Up the Appetite Like Nothing Else.” In it, she says that Calvin Trillin once wrote that anyone who doesn’t think the best hamburger is in his own hometown is a sissy. I’m pretty sure Trillin was talking more of a short-order kind of burger—which SF is not particularly famous for (move to L.A. if you want to have hometown burger cred)—but I'll vouch for Spruce's burger with SF pride any day.
Trillin might call me a prissy, though. At Spruce—where the burger is only served at the bar—there aren’t stools, per se. At least not the kind you sidle up to. There are high-sitting, heavy leather-covered, cushioned chairs that a gentleman might pull back for you. The bar itself is made of white marble. And when the bartender serves your burger to you, he or she sets down a black napkin like a placemat of sorts. It’s all done with a good amount of pomp, which pairs perfectly with a reasonably-priced glass of red wine, such as this delicious thing, poured into a fancy crystal red wine glass bigger than your head.
When the burger is set in front of you, it does not disappoint. It’s a class act, complete with the Zuni one-two (pickled zucchini—for which the Saveur article gives the recipe—and red onions). The bun is housemade (although it used to be a pure English muffin, now the recipe has changed it to being a more typical burger bun, which personally I prefer), the lettuce is Little Gem. It’s a perfect little paradise, served with killer fries. At $14, it provides the perfect cheap-and-chic night out.