A few weeks ago, DFW.com’s Preston Jones did a DFW.com Burger of the Week that was really three burgers: All of them were at Dallas places participating in the Blended Burger Project, a nationwide contest that continues through July 31.
Representatives from the James Beard Foundation and the Mushroom Council came to Dallas this spring to talk about the “blended” burgers, which feature patties made with a blend of ground meat and chopped mushrooms. A preview event featured burgers from Smoke, the Theodore and Front Room Tavern in Dallas; such DFW food purveyors as Getting Saucy, Cafe Momentum and Braindead Brewing also joined in the contest.
As did Fort Worth’s Ellerbe Fine Foods, which got in just under the wire with its grilled Akaushi beef and portobello burger, which is DFW.com’s Burger of the Week.
When we launched BOW this year, we didn’t want to do too many repeats, and we had featured an Ellerbe burger earlier in the spring. But for a burger that might earn Ellerbe chef Molly McCook a trip to the James Beard House in New York City, we’re willing to be flexible.
Besides, trip or no trip, this burger is pretty special.
The burger: The burger’s full name is a mouthful, but just ask for the Blended Burger. It features the beef-mushroom patty with Swiss chard and spring onions from Demases Farm in Boyd, crumbled feta, and sorrel aioli, all for $12, available on Ellerbe’s lunch menu. For $2, you can add a fried Nine Mile Farm duck egg. I recommend the egg, but be prepared to use your napkin a lot.
The patty: The server told us that the patty is cooked medium but we wouldn’t see any pink inside because of the portobello blend. Not a problem. The first bite gave us a hit of rich portobello flavor, and then the well-seasoned beef brought in balance. The burger had some pretty forceful toppings, but the patty was undoubtedly the star.
The bun: The brioche-style bun probably would have held up to an eggless burger, but I couldn’t resist the fried egg, which was just the way I like it — runny. But that also saturated the bottom bun, and halfway through, I was eating the burger with a knife and fork. Which, by the way, turned out to be a really good way to get all the flavors at once.
The toppings: If the patty was the star, the duck egg deserved second billing. Did I say I like my eggs runny? The sunny-side-up yolk coated the burger after one bite, drenching the burger with its flavor (face-washing was necessary afterward). The deeply green chard added to the mix with its almost spinachlike flavor, although the texture was a little chewy in places.
Feta’s pungency can overwhelm things, but in this case it added a layer of nuance — you notice it’s there, but it doesn’t try to steal the show. The onions and the aioli were even more on the subtle side.
The sides: Ellerbe changes its burgers seasonally, but they’re often accompanied by herbed fries, as they were in this case — and these were about perfect, with a crisp outer texture whose crunch gave way to soft, salty warmth inside.
The verdict: Even if this burger weren’t in a contest, it would have our vote. But check it out for yourself, and then vote. To see how it’s doing, and to check out the other burgers (from DFW and elsewhere) in the competition, visit www.jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject/vote.