Built Burger Goes Brick and Mortar
Just when you thought you couldn’t build a better burger joint…. Another one comes along, complete with an innovation that makes you think this juuust might work.
Not that long ago, dear hedonists, I wrote about Five Guys Burgers and Fries, extolling its oh-so simplistic virtues and warning that that BYOM – “Bring Your Own Milkshake” – would be needed. Now it’s time to write about an online company that’s turned brick and mortar in the form of a (milkshake-free once again) storefront burger joint with haute cuisine aspirations: BuiltBurger.
BuiltBurger began as an online artisanal burger company about 16 months ago in June 2009, complete with natural meats and some 25 different flavors at their disposal that ships frozen “builts” packed in dry ice nationwide (with their largest followings in Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York City). Just over one month ago, on November 8th, 2010, BuiltBurger opened its flagship location in Pioneer Square (they plan to develop this single location into a microchain, so stay tuned). At this sparsely-decorated Seattle restaurant, their burgers are made by hand fresh daily and not previously frozen. Why the brick and mortar? To bring fine dining burgers to the Seattle main street (and to further build their brand and sell more frozen burgers nationwide, of course)! Co-founder/owner (and Irish carnivore) David Makuen (his wife Rebecca, is the other co-founder/owner) has been absolutely obsessed with building a better burger patty – the perfect patty, if you will – since he saved up the money from his paper route and bought a Weber kettle bowl grill at the age of twelve years; the rest, as they say, is history.
BuiltBurger’s “secret sauce” if you will (ironic pun intended) is a focus on making all the magic inside the actual burger patty – be it beef, chicken, pork, or lamb – rather than worrying about an avalanche of toppings that can often overwhelm the patty. In other words, working in the burger, rather than on the burger – thus making the burger patty the “star” or “hero.”
A few of their signature 6 ounce burger patties – cooked up by BuiltBurger Chef Robert Joice (a.k.a. “Chico” to many and “Burger God” according to David, Robert is culinary school trained and formerly of Tom Douglas Restaurants) – that your Hedonista was invited last month to taste as media are listed below. These burgers taste as good as any high-end dining establishment downtown; in fact, in addition to the culinary kudos they’re also akin to comfort food – think here of a meatball, mashed potato, and veggie/salad offering just like Mom used to make, only with a “fast food burgers ‘n’ fries” twist.
The Magnificent Chorizo ($7.95) – a burger patty made with local Mexican chorizo, beef that’s ground fresh daily, roasted poblano peppers, cotija cheese, and cilantro, and topped with cilantro lime slaw – this burger is hot-’n'-creamy balanced and absolutely fabulous.
The Sriracha Beef ($8.50) – a top fav; a burger patty made with freshly ground beef, Sriracha sauce, garlic, shallot, ginger, carrot, basil, soy, and topped with homemade pickled veggies. Totally yummy.
The Heavenly Lamb ($9.50) – a burger patty made with kalamata olives, feta cheese, Mama Lil’s Peppers, garlic and herbs and topped with housemade hummus, tzatziki, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and onion. A nice patty for all of you lamb lovers out there.
The Pinnacle Bacon Bleu ($8.50) – a burger patty made with ground beef, roasted bacon, carmalized onions, and Danish bleu cheese. For bacon ‘n’ blue cheese lovers only, topped with lettuce and tomato.
The Thrill BBQ Pork ($7.95) – another fav; a burger patty made with BBQ pork, the BuiltBurger signature pork grind, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onions, topped with Old Bay slaw and dill pickles.
Seasonal-specific burgers – such as their “Give Thanks Turkey” – also come and go. Veggie and vegan burgers are also available (far less hedonistic, however at BuiltBurger they claim that “meatless never tasted so good”). All burgers are served on organic buns from Boulangerie Nantaise in Belltown. There are also BuiltSides in the form of potatoes for $2.95 – both hand-cut fries and the Hedonista’s personal favorite, their savory potato beignets (think deep fried mashed potatoes, potato croquettes, or deep fried perogies, here). Fresh sides for $4.50 each offer healthier alternatives like artisan salads (soups are coming soon, too). Or get a “Sides Trio” for $9.95.
Oh, and don’t forget the ever-changing gourmet housemade BuiltDips ($0.50 each, one included free with a burger), such as curry ketchup, sweet chili and kalamata aiolis, and horseradish Dijon mustard. They’ve also partnered with Secret Stash Sea Salts (look for some on their hand-cut fries) and Trophy Cupcakes (currently the only place distributing them downtown). Wash it all down with a variety of water, soda, beer and wine.
The only real critiques were that 1) when I returned as a paying customer a couple of days later, they were so swamped with customers that they ran out of many of their menu items, including the beignets (hopefully that’s merely a new business process of figuring out their supply and demand) and 2) the joint is waaay too austere in its décor (David is a self-proclaimed minimalist-modernist at heart, but promised your Hedonista to add more artwork to the walls, pronto.)
Interested? If so, the Makuens have extended a rather cool opportunity to all of you hedonists out there this holiday season – a 15% off coupon, good until the end of the month (which is better than the 10% coupon they offered their loyalty mailing list program, a.k.a. “The Burger Worship Club”). Simply print out or save trees and show the coupon on your smartphone at the counter when you place your order:
Happy artisanal burger noshing, dear hedonists!