I've eaten a lot of burgers in my days at Serious Eats. Enough that I rarely get excited by a new one, no matter how good. This is the only burger I've had in years that made me feel like I've been touched for the very first time. The relentless moisture, the intricate interplay of textures between the crisp charred crust and the ultra-loose and tender center (achieved by a technique Myint calls "granulating"), the sheer beefiness of the thing, reminded me of what my first truly great burger experience was like. I've never been so excited by a sandwich before.
Beef Jerky ($5)
Tender and beefy, with a moist texture filled with crisp bits of fat that literally melt in your mouth, the jerky is made with green papaya (which contains natural enzymes to tenderize the meat), dehydrated, and served with a squeeze of lime. It's a great into to the menu, which is full of ordinary sounding and looking food that for all intents and purposes reads and looks just like standard bar food. It's only after you taste it that you realize it's unlike any you've ever had.
Sausage Corn Dog ($7)
Juicy Sausage Corn Dogs ($7) are fennel-specked Italian sausage in a crisp corn batter that come to the table poking out of a slab of bowling lane parquet, its surface smeared with a mild habañero cream. This is the first of several excellent foods-on-a-stick.
Fried Chicken ($8)
Your first impression is, this is the crispest fried chicken I've ever had, soon followed by holy sh*t, this is the chickeniest fried chicken I've ever had.
Myint shared some of his secrets with us later on. The dry base of the batter is made not just with seasoned flour, but with actual fried chicken skin that is dehydrated and ground into a powder. Chicken battered with chicken! For the liquid element, he cuts his batter with a few shots of vodka. Not only does this reduce gluten formation (which can lead to tough fried chicken), it's also far more volatile, leading to a lighter, crisper coating.
Home Fries ($5)
Clearly, frying is one of MBC's strong suits. Consider the Home Fries ($5). These are no ordinary spuds. Made by par-boiling baby potatoes until just barely falling apart, the potatoes are then roughed up a bit to increase the cracks and crevices on their surface, resulting in a fried potato with a massive surface area to volume ratio for maximum outer crunch, while still maintaining a soft, steamy center.
Everything Pretzel ($5)
Of all the outstanding appetizers, only the Everything Pretzel ($8) failed to make a strong impression on us (despite a fantastic sweet and spicy lardo mostarda for dipping). There was nothing wrong with it, but it's far outshined by its superstar bandmates.
Vegan Burger ($10)
A Vegan Burger ($10) made falafel-like with a chickpea base riddled with kale and shiitake comes topped with a thick spoonful of guacamole. It's a proud reminder that "vegan" is not a synonym for "devoid of all pleasure." A dozen other vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan options appear in all sections of the menu. It's nice to see a chef this dedicated to non-meat options.
Jerk Pork Shoulder Sandwich ($11)
Thick slices of tender Jerk Pork Shoulder come sandwiched in a toasted Acme bun, sweet and bitter from grapefruit, with jicama adding its characteristic watery crunch. It's got a substantial but moist texture much more akin to corned beef or pastrami than, say, pulled pork.
The Burger, Autopsy
I mean, just look at the juice. Insane.
A view of the six lanes from the upstairs dining balcony.