I don’t respect hamburgers. I like them, they can be tasty as all get-out. That’s almost their handicap; a decent burger is tasty enough as it is, leading far too many establishments to simply coast in with minimal effort. Those that do apply themselves frequently end up featuring something like this:
The humble pastrami burger isn’t enough, so throw a hot dog on it. It’s a barely-restrained mess, and that’s coming from a roadside stand. Taken in any gastropub or New American establishment the patty would be two or three times that size, much to the detriment of anyone trying to pick it up and eat it. But that’s not what you see at the top of this post, and I’d like to take a moment to sing the praises of the sensible hamburger. The Manly Burger from Umami Burger, aside from an unfortunate name, is a burger with beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt-onion strings and bacon lardons. Sandwiches tend to come down to balance and harmony, and if you can’t have both, having a whole ton of just one sometimes makes things work. There’s very little balance here, it’s a rich medley of salt, fat, salt and more fat. There’s plenty of harmony though, and this was a surprisingly good hamburger. I’ve had Umami Burger before and declined to feature it here, finding the truffle-oiled offerings to fall short of the hype. The Manly Burger is genuinely good, though, doubling down on a very particular flavor profile to excellent results.