By Anne Berry
Hare are some of the city's latest offerings, with chefs' tips on how to create the perfect burger and keep it endlessly interesting:
This pop-up restaurant (playing sunday nights in the slim Goodies space) is perfect for the Twitter set, who both follow and inspire the restaurant's wildly imaginative burger specials and shakes.
"We field-test concepts and listen to what people like," rene Louapre, co-owner of MV- Burger. "We want them to feel a part of our community." since opening last october, MV- Burger has doubled its dinner service and collected hundreds of fans on social media sites.
recent specials have included the Burger rossini, plumped with foie gras and topped with pudding-soft truffled duxelles; a caramelized onion, bacon and blue cheese masterpiece named B.o.B.; and the sound and the Fury, a fiery blend of pork sausage and beef tamed with tangy, housemade Pimiento cheese (so popular that customers propelled it onto the regular menu as a topping for fries).
The crew at MVBurger grinds their own meat (in their standard burger, a perfectly seasoned mix of chuck and brisket); buns come from Maple st. Patisserie, and the upscale shakes are made with gelato from sucré (the Cookies and Cream is crazy good).
Louapre chronicles his passion for food on Blackened out, the blog he writes with MV- Burger co-owner Peter Thriffiley. other partners in the MVBurger venture are Joel Dondis, Evan Benson, Larkin selman and Hardie McDonald.
J'ANITA'S AT THE RENDON INN
Last november, Chefs Craig and Kim Giesecke migrated from avenue Pub to the kitchen at The rendon inn, deep in Broadmoor.
"We're a neighborhood joint," said Craig. "We have a loyal following."
in January, they began offering meatloaf on Tuesdays. anchoring it with bread from La Boulangerie brings this meatloaf into burger territory, but consider this a burger deconstructed, with fragrant meat that falls away in juicy bits.
Craig mixes ground chuck with sautéed onions, green bell peppers and celery. He then griddles the meat: "it keeps the meat moister…it holds the flavor better than a grill," he said.
a shower of shredded mozzarella and tomato-basil soup round out the toppings, then it's all seared between the ciabatta. The soft vegetables and soup add to this burger/meatloaf hybrid's moist appeal.
"Very clean, very fresh," was my first impression of Cowbell's natural Burger, and after speaking to Chef Brack May, i understood why: he uses grass-fed, organic beef from a regional ranch. The burgers are mostly ground chuck, but May sometimes mixes in a bit of ground rib-eye or skirt steak.
With organic, "you get a leaner beef," said May, who opened Cowbell late last year with his wife, Krista. "it can handle cheeses and aiolis."
i happily tested this with buds of blue cheese and a dip into Cowbell's own agogo sauce (mayo-based and bright with sambal chilis, roasted garlic and honey). The sides are thoughtful, so try the caramelized plantains, which May buys from a local Latino vendor.
May also takes his time with the Harvest Burger: to make the patties, he sautés and grinds together red bell peppers, carrots, zucchinis and sweet potatoes, mixing them with pinto beans, red beans and sushi brown rice for a most tender, sweet veggie burger.
The Caramelized onion and aged Cheddar Burger at rambla owes its genius to the velvety cheese draping it. Phillip Lopez, recently named rambla's executive chef, found the Cheddar in ruston, La., and knew it would melt beautifully as soon as the dairy farmer handed him a slice. "i grew up going to the farm; it's natural to me," said Lopez. "i was trained to do that."
The burger also benefits from a tangle of sweet, fresh onions. To coax the same caramel flavors at home, start with Vidalias and cook them in butter over very low heat, for about 45 minutes.
For rambla's burgers, Lopez double-grinds equal parts inside top round and brisket meat, then loads them with luxe toppings.
The Foie Burger is crowned with delicate foie gras so soft it practically melts into the burger. This richness is offset by the brilliant, clove-spiced pickled cherries that Lopez makes in-house (as he does the buttery, fluffy brioche buns).
Rich, marbled Black angus beef, as well as grilled redfish and ground turkey, make up the eclectic burger menu that debuted at the Davenport Lounge last December (and all are available in the adjoining M Bistro for lunch).
Especially addictive is the Bistro Burger, slathered with a plummy sauce made from Covey rise Creole tomatoes and crowned with gorgeous ruffled lettuce and wispy crisp onions.
if you stray from beef, try the spectacular Turkey Burger. (The trick to keeping it moist is in the fresh, natural yogurt used by Brad ley McGehee, the ritz-Carlton's chef de cuisine, to bind the ground turkey breast.) Coddling this warm, sassy burger are melted Brie, herbal slaw, and a riot of orange marmalade and green tomato chutney from Watershed Farms in Bayou Chicot.
No matter which burger you ask for, you'll love the buns made by Pastry Chef Thomas McGovern: generous, hand-cut and buttered on the grill. one of his secrets: he brushes an egg wash over them to form a sheer skin, so the bread holds together.
In a nod to Lent, the popular burger joint breaks from beef for this month's special, a tasty trio of oyster sliders. Each slider is filled with P&J oysters, expertly fried and paired with different sauces: cheesy Béchamel in the Bienville; spinach-based pesto for the rockefeller; and cocktail sauce, which rounds out a perfect little po-boy.
After March 31, satisfy your slider cravings with the Phil's Grill signature trio of burgers, which includes patties made from gator, angus, and a hot sausage-and-beef blend; try them with Phil's new and juicy grilled tomato aioli.
Follow Anne on Twitter @AnneBerryWrites.