I was wandering around the Time Warner Center in New York City recently and found myself at the Bouchon Bakery thinking I was going to order its terrific grilled cheese sandwich (that's the one served with a surprisingly mediocre tomato soup). That's what I was planning to order until my server said they had a Wagyu beef slider special that day.
In the name of research I had to order them. Ten minutes later, she deposited a long thin plate in front of me: three sliders on house-made brioche buns with a pinch of sea salt on top. The burgers' condiments included ricotta cheese, a schmear of garlic aïoli, and tomato marmalade. So, basically, these were fancy-pants cheeseburger sliders with ketchup.
Again, the egalitarian skeptic in me wanted to hate these burgerlike affectations, but damn these sliders were killer. Great salty caramelized crust, plenty of beefy, juicy flavor, and those brioche buns, topped by a few grains of fleur de sel, were soft and moist but stood up to the burger well. These sliders were $15 but were worth every penny (don't kill me for saying that, Adam).
I asked my server if they were planning to put the sliders on the everyday menu, and all she said was they hoped to. But when I got back to the office and called sous chef Jim McDuffee, he basically told me they were probably a one-time-only lucky culinary accident.
"I had some Wagyu beef trimmings from the Per Se kitchen and the pastry department had a little leftover fresh ricotta, so I decided why not go for it," McDuffee said. He told me they blew through all 45 orders in an hour.
I would like to start a movement to get these sliders on the everyday menu at all three Bouchons across the country. So write congress or call your local sous chef.
Bouchon (New York): 10 Columbus Circle (59th and Broadway); 212-823-9366
Bouchon (California): 653 Washington Street, Yountville CA; 707-944-8037
Bouchon (Las Vegas): Venetian Hotel, 3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702-414-6200
Photograph by Robyn Lee