What’s a good thing for if not making it better? The great American sandwich gets dressed to the nines so often that you might think that there’s a red carpet and a burger awards show around every corner. While Knoxville chefs haven’t started stuffing their patties with goose liver and whole black truffles, they do present some well-crafted and deliciously gilded options for those times when a dill chip and a dab of ketchup just won’t do.
Cru Bistro & Wine Bar
The Americana burger was crafted to form a more perfect union of burger, toppings, and bun, with the aim that every bite would contain every element of this gourmet sandwich. It features an 80/20 Angus beef-to-fat-ratio patty that supports a delicious array of carefully considered condiments: Garlic aioli gets a richer bite from an infusion of Dijon mustard; red onions are grilled to enhance their sweetness; and applewood bacon adds sweetness, crunch, and, along with the addition of smoked cheddar, a nice smoky element. Surrounding the whole is a sweet brioche bun that’s carefully buttered and toasted from one side to the other to fulfill Cru’s aim of making every bite a more perfect one.
Sheer Bliss Tupelo Burger
Tupelo Honey Cafe
It took two months and cost Chef Brian Sonoskus and the Tupelo Honey tasting staff about 10 pounds each to find the best type and blend of beef and cuts to create the café’s burger nirvana. The final blend of corn-fed prime rib and short rib gives the Sheer Bliss a steak-like quality. The meat is seasoned as it’s ground, and it gets a second grind to make sure that the resulting burger-to-be is uniformly delicious. And if you’re wondering what seasoning gives this burger a vaguely familiar and really tasty flavor (we probably shouldn’t divulge this information, so keep it quiet)... it’s coriander. The new Shoo Mercy version (pictured) of this indulgence adds pimento cheese, maple-peppered bacon, Dijonnaise, and fried pickled jalapeños. And bless their hearts, the café serves this burger on a potato roll.
There was a food-savvy Gallic influence at work in the creation of this burger base. Chef Jesse Newmister explains that the Brasserie eschews using dearer cuts when there’s a delicious if less glamorous option for the grinder. The Brasserie Burger is based solely on chuck roll, a cut that clever carnivore cooks know can work equally well as steaks, stews, and ground beef. And yet, the pride and joy of this creation is the luxury of truffled onions, which infuse each bite with the heady and sexy aroma and intense flavor of tuber magnatum—aka, white truffle. Of course, truffles are putative aphrodisiacs, so that may explain the burger’s broad fan base.
Icon Ultra Lounge
For her creation, Chef Kellie Kinder likes the marbling of Black Angus beef that’s allowed to mature for a full 18 months without being hurried up and witch-doctored by hormonal voodoo. The resulting burger is naturally flavorful and juicy. Served in pairs, the Petite Burger rests on a sweet yeast roll beneath a swath of tarragon mayonnaise that works like a charm with a slice of chipotle-smoked Gouda. It’s an interesting combo that excites the mouth with a richly diverse and complimentary range of flavors.