As noted last week, DFW.com is going to keep its flamebroiled burger passions stoked in between our biannual Burger Battles by examining burgers that, for one reason or another, miss the cut when we’re assembling our beefy brackets.
The focus this week is on a burger that’s been eliciting raves from critics for the better part of two years.
When star chef John Tesar threw open the doors to Knife Dallas in 2014, one of the many mouthwatering offerings on the menu was the Ozersky burger, so named for the late food writer Josh Ozersky (who leaned into the publicity and named the burger one of the country’s best in 2014).
Although Knife’s primary focus is redefining what constitutes a steakhouse — bacon tastings and 45-day-aged steaks, anyone? — its menu also encompasses burgers, BLTs and banh mi.
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The Ozersky isn’t the only burger at Knife Dallas, located inside the Highland Dallas hotel, serves up — there are five different burgers, in addition to the Ozersky, between the lunch and dinner menus — but it may be the restaurant’s best.
The burger: The Ozersky ($12) is deceptively simple: a thickish patty of house-ground beef, resting on a plain white, toasted bun, sitting atop thin slices of raw, red onion and layered with American cheese. It doesn’t look like much, but, man, does judging this burger by its looks do it a massive disservice.
The patty: We asked for medium, and got something closer to medium well. No matter: the meat — rich with juices, and a potent mineral tang kissed with salt and pepper — did not suffer. What’s more, there’s a better-than-good chance we heard angels singing when we took our first bite.
The bun: It’s an utterly pedestrian, totally utilitarian piece of bread, toasted simply but hanging together for every bite, never giving way, despite the juicy patty.
The toppings: What you see is what you get with the Ozersky: American cheese and red onion. Diners have the option to add lettuce and tomato, if desired, and the burger arrives with a couple slices of Knife’s housemade pickles, and small dishes of mustard and ketchup. After your first few bites, you probably won’t feel the need to mess with perfection — despite the minimal toppings, the Ozersky tastes just right.
The sides: Every Knife burger arrives with a side of the “salsa verde” fries, which are served in mini fry baskets. The fries are fine — no real fireworks here — and complement the Ozersky without overshadowing it. Other options include avocado fries ($10), Johnny’s mac & cheese ($12), or the daily “something green and in season,” which was roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower during our visit ($9).
The verdict: The Ozersky is one of the best burgers we’ve ever eaten. Those expecting fast-food prices might be deterred by the $12 price tag, but this burger will leave you dazed and happy, its simple exterior masking impressive culinary ambitions and a depth of flavor ranking it among the best dishes — fine dining or otherwise — in DFW.
Knife Dallas, inside the Highland Dallas Hotel, 5300 E. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas. 214-443-9339, knifedallas.com. The Ozersky is available at lunch (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday), dinner (5-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 5-10 p.m. Sunday) and brunch (11:15 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday).