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!
80/20 Niman Ranch
Fixings: secret sauce, caramelized onions, housemade pickles, melted cheddar cheese
Cooked: griddled and then oven-roasted
fries topped with fried herbs
This is how our final burger came to pass: On a foggy, cold summer night—the kind that makes me want to throw in the SF towel and get the hell out of here—I headed to my destination. I was cranky and cold and in no mood to pander to another beef patty. I was pretty much over it.
Fish & Farm was not on our original list of go-to’s (I’d venture to say Fish & Farm is probably not on anyone’s SF burger short list), but someone had written in to suggest we should try it. When we got there, we decided to sit in the bar, which is removed from the restaurant itself. The marble table was cold to the touch. I kept on my coat, my scarf and my scowl.
But then, the burger arrived—literally dripping with a “special sauce,” a knife stabbed into the center rather violently, as if to say, ‘Take this!’ Despite my current martyr status, I felt a little thrill. The acutal burger at F & F goes against the case I’ve been building for the past month in regards to what makes for greatness: There's no crunchy lettuce (no lettuce at all, actually); the pickles are house-made but mild and paired with caramelized onions; a huge hunk of Cabot cheddar oozes down the sides and the bun is sopping with a steak sauce, studded with tiny fresh peppercorns. There's not a Zuni-esque pickled zucchini in sight.
I took a deep, martyr-y sigh and took a bite. What I experienced was a purely warm-and-fuzzy, hedonistic moment of deliciousness that wouldn’t allow even a bit of snarky judgment to sneak its way in. If there’s an umami god out there, this burger was built to pay homage to it. The Thousand-Island inspired sauce is really the kicker: It was sweet and savory and salty and messy. I only came up for air 10 shredded napkins and a clean plate later.