Burgers. They can be the love of your life or the bane of your existence. Recently my mind has been set adrift in a sea of, “Why do they ask me how I want it if they’re not going to bother to make it that way?” syndrome. It’s frustrating, to say the least. Even some of my tried and trues have failed to deliver, which only adds to the dilemma.
Fortunately for me, Eli’s East (the Northeast branch of Eli’s Food & Cocktails located in Downtown Minneapolis) seems to be able to get it right. Their burger, cooked to a blissful perfection, is something worthy of discussion in and of itself; although, I must admit, it’s not what I ordered. That’s right, I didn’t order the burger so perhaps I have no right to talk about it, but the person I was with did, and when it was cut into, I couldn’t resist the urge to plead my way into a bite.
The burger ordered: Eli’s truffle burger. The burger comes topped with Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and is touched with a hint of truffle oil (of which I am not a tremendous fan). The point of this piece, however, is not the toppings on the burger. A connoisseur of fine products knows that it’s not the dressing that makes the maiden. If the burger itself is not satisfactory in its pure and natural state, then there’s no need to continue discussing it. This is about a perfect burger.
This leads us to the question: what makes a burger perfect?
The answer to this question lies, in part, in personal taste, but one should know what to expect. If you order your burger rare, it should have a nice seared crust on the outside, be pink in the interior, with a red–but warm–center. A medium-rare burger should have the same crusty sear, but the interior should be uniformly pink all the way through. A medium burger will be darker in color–almost grayish–on the immediate interior, but the middle will still be pink. A well-done burger will be uniformly grayish throughout, but it should retain its moistness. I prefer my burgers prepared medium-rare. For me, this is where the optimal flavor profile of the beef can be fully realized. The texture of the meat is smooth and velvety and it carries a deep, rich beefy flavor – that is of course to say, if they’re using quality meat and not some frozen patty.
As you can see from the photo above, Eli’s nails this burger. It’s perfect in color, texture, and flavor. The additional accoutrements help to add additional depths of flavor and texture to the meat but, in the end, the burger is what’s king.
Of course, the other food was good as well. I enjoyed a very nice walleye po boy that was served with a charred jalapeno tartar sauce and, had it not been for the luxuriousness of the burger, I probably would have opted to write more about it. The pork belly sliders are also a must-have; but if you’ve got a craving for a burger, you simply must order one.
Downtown: 1225 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN
Northeast Minneapolis: 815 East Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN