Old buddy from Palo Alto was visiting this week, and when we were thinking about lunch places yesterday he remembered our going by the Oinkster and being intrigued. So we did that. He got the regular un-fancy pastrami and some slaw, but I decided it was high time I tried the much-applauded burger. Didn't give them any cooking directions; just asked for cheddar and let it go at that. And of course the fries and aioli, gotta have that.
Wow. This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around. This is the burger that will make you remember what they tasted like when your tastebuds were fifty years younger. When the guy bought his meat fresh every day, scooped it up and patted it gently into a flattish but thick giant meatball, and cooked it on a well-seasoned flat iron grill, then you ate it with juice running down your chin. And no matter how well you washed your hands, the grease in your system seemed to keep pumping out your fingertips the rest of the day, so if you worked (as I did) with film you really, really needed those cotton gloves...
I honestly had not tasted a burger like that since Herr Harry's Franks & Steins in Nashville went out of business, and this thing took me right back. For about two-thirds of my lunch I was totally in love, but then the damn bun melted. Okay, Harry's buns did too, but back then ALL buns did, because they all came from the big balloon-bread bakeries. There's just no excuse anymore for that; both brioche and ciabatta rolls are widely available and widely used, the latter being my favored choice. If they can come up with special bread for their pastrami, you'd think they could do their brilliant burger more justice. Which is certainly not to say I won't order another; that thing was just too good to let a handful of soggy sandwich innards discourage me. Oh, man...!
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