Photos By Clarissa Villondo, Words By Jeb Gavin
Spring is in full bloom so restaurants are hauling out the sort of options you’d otherwise enjoy at a cookout or picnic. In the case of local chain Cafe Deluxe this means Burger Days of Summer, six burgers literally engineered by the chefs. They decided to feed me burgers for a few hours, and you get the benefit of my… let’s call it wisdom.
We began with the Porter Burger. As with all the burgers it starts with one of the best burger buns I’ve ever had, in this case an onion poppy seed bun (the Uptown Bakery made all of their buns. Suddenly I have an option that isn’t a Martin’s potato roll.) It’s toasted, and slathered with a mayonnaise made from Anchor porter beer. The certified Angus beef is grilled (as are all the beef burgers,) and this one is topped with provolone, beer braised onions, and two dry strips of bacon crisscrossing the top of the patty. It’s an OK burger, well seasoned, but not the best of the evening.
Up next was the T Coast burger, named after Cafe Deluxe’s sister restaurant Tortilla Coast. This one was much better. You could taste every element in the burger, starting again with the jalapeno cheddar bun. The cumin in the corn tortilla strips was pleasant without being overpowering, and the chilies were flavorful without being too spicy. Even the chipotle mayo balanced well with the avocado spread.
The Red White and Blue burger was the best of the bunch. The horseradish mayo complimented the blue cheese, the tang of both cut through the heavy taste of brittle bacon. My only problem was the Bibb lettuce, situated under the burger. For a suitably juicy burger like this one, put a whole leaf lettuce under and it acts like corrugated plastic. When you pick up the burger all the juices run right off the burger and on to the plate. Instead it’d taste even better if the juices mingled with the mayonnaise under the burger. So long as there’s a sauce, the bun won’t get soaked through.
The Philly Cheesteak burger comes with sauteed, sliced prime rib on top along with caramelized onions and mushrooms and a sheet of provolone. A cheese sauce analogous to whiz was served on the side. It really needs to go on the burger, the provolone is too mild without it. Also, the mushrooms are lost in the onions. Again, the burger was fine, but with minor tweaks it could’ve been much better.
Finally we come to the not really burger burgers. The Salmon burger #3 is an Atlantic salmon patty atop a seaweed salad and is with pickled ginger and strips of fried spring roll wrapper all on a oat bun. Man, that’s a good bun. The spring roll wrapper didn’t really add anything other than a bit of crunch. The whole thing tastes like a salmon burger, albeit well cooked. I’m never going to order a salmon burger- in fact I’m not sure it should be called a burger, but it’s tasty.
The other option is the Austin Veggie, a veggie burger with the toppings of the T Coast burger. The patty is made of black beans and oats and somehow tastes less bready on the bun. Without the bun, the “burger” tastes and feels like undercooked falafel. Again, not my thing but more power to the folks at Cafe Deluxe for making something out of oats and black beans.
Burger Days is at all the Cafe Deluxe locations through July. Likely I’ll return for that Red White and Blue burger before then. May have to visit the Uptown Bakery too.