Restaurant Design and Development, and Concept Development

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Better Burger Project

Working on a Better Burger Project concept, to open in Asia by the end of the year. One of the best meals one can have, especially as a  lunch item, is a great burger with great fries. Problem is that it is not that easy to find.

There are two tendencies in the better burger world, thick juicy burgers cooked from rare to well done according to the customers request, and  the thinner burgers, which are offered as such or as a double, these are more difficult to cook to anything but medium or well done.

The problem with ground beef for the perfect burger, is that if overcooked, dries out and turns to cardoard, to compensate for this, the ft content is increased, usually a minimum of 15%.

On the side of the thin well done burgers  are concepts such as Five Guys, Shake Shack, Smashburger, In-and-Out. These are all good burgers, high in fat content to compensate for the overcooking due to the thin burgers, cooked on a hot grill to produce a satisfying crust, and to keep the cooking times under six minutes to make them possible in a fast casual environment. Smashburger to me has the advantage, as in the smashing process (they press down on a meatball on the grill to a fixed height, giving these burgers a crunchier,  quick cook time and a juicer burger.

On the other side, with the thick burgers, the challenge is how to cook them in a reasonable time, and also how to make sure they don’t overcook. Of the concepts in this corner the ones that do it well are Umami Burger, Patty and Bun (London) and The Counter. Tese three concepts serve a large burger (over 6 oz, probably closer to 8 oz), and their secret is that they prestage these burgers to rare or medium rare, and then finish them quickly on a very hot grill or griddle. This can give the perfect doneness, guarantee that they re cooked through to that temperature, retain their moisture, can be made with lower fat content, and each one cooked to the customers doneness request.

shake shack burger 300x201 Better Burger Project in n out burger double double 300x225 Better Burger Project patty and bun burger 300x225 Better Burger Project

 

The other critical component is the bun. Most hamburger buns follow the consistency and density of the fast food ones, and tend to be pasty and fall apart if the burger is too juicy, Using a thinner bun, but with a slight crust (eg the pretzel bun) gives a burger one can actually open ones mouth enough to take a bite, and then isn’t so firm that the whole burger gets squeezed out when one bites.

Toasting a buttered bun, or toasting it on an oiled grill also gives a pleasant flavor, ass well as making the bun less likely to absorb all the dressing, sauces and juices, and falling apart before one is a quarter way through the burger.

One can go on with the cheese (best melted quickly under a salamander), the toppings and the sauce, but if one doesn’t have a good base made of a great burger and bun, the rest is window dressing.

umami burger 300x256 Better Burger Project

One Response to Better Burger Project

  1. hein corten says:

    Hallo,

    Very interesting article. We are developing in The Netherlands a farm-to-table fastfood concept, so we dealed with the same problems. To get the burgers right we will be working with http://www.mom-s.com
    We also do the import of Mom’s.
    My collegues Quirin van Engelshoven & Mike van Ham will visit Chicago September 17-21.
    We want to experience how US fastfood & retailchains get their brandemotion / experience / look & feel into their store’s
    Can we arrange a meeting in Chicago ?
    Couldn’t catch you on the phone for several times this week.
    Hein Corten
    Genzon 51
    6235 AA Ulestraten HOLLAND
    + 31 43 364 45 90