Posh burgers can be a bit like a beautiful woman — each delightful in their own way, but with certain charms only appreciated by the beholder. Thin or thick around the middle; dressed impeccably or bare; with pickles or without.
I’m adding two more to the list of fancy-pants patties: K&L Bistro’s Meyer Ranch burger and Stark Steakhouse’s Kobe beef burger (above).
It’s pretty hard to go wrong when steak is your bread and butter. The
lunchtime-only Kobe beef burger is ground fresh daily and will run you
$13 right off the bat. Kobe, in case you’ve been sleeping since the
late 1990s, is a specially raised breed of cattle (Wagyu) known for its
tenderness. I can’t tell you if this American version is actually
massaged daily and fed beer (doubtful) like its Japanese cousins, but
it definitely has a rich, meaty flavor that will make you swear off
Stark’s “Burgers Your Way” is a field day for the adventurous eater. On
top of the beef (though some would call it sacrilege, I won’t) you can
add an array of toppers from smoked cheddar ($1), bacon ($1.50) and
caramelized onions ($1) to sauteed foie gras ($12), a truffled fried
egg ($1.50, so French!), exotic mushrooms ($2) or black truffle aoili
($1). If you’re feeling unsure of your combo, just try your burger
their way: with smoked bacon, salsa verde and Cambezola; truffled
aoili, fontina and caramelized onions or a lamb burger with Moroccan
BBQ sauce, feta and cucumber raita.
Fries come with the burgers, in addition to a toasted potato bun and
homemade pickles (a necessity!). Extra credit: I like Chef Mark’s yam
fries dusted with chili powder better than the plain old skinny fries.
Building your own burger is an eater’s dream. A definitely 2-napkin
experience. Minus: All those add-ons can get spendy and at a certain
point just detract from the burger itself. So use restraint. Stark’s Steakhouse, 521 Adams, Santa Rosa, 546-5100.
It’s been far too long since BiteClub hunkered down at this Sebastopol
institution, but the charming vibe and neighborhood clientele never
fail to delight. Though it feels like a bit of a cop-out to order a
burger when PEI mussels and french onion soup are on the menu, I’ve
heard from many that their burger is the tops.
It’s a serious patty (about 10oz.) delivered with few frills. A nice,
toasty sesame bun, lettuce, tomato, onion and cornichons. Your choice
of seeded mustard or plain. Grueyere or blue cheese is $1 extra, and
after four days of gooey, cheesy burgers the fact that the waiter
forgot to add it was actually a bit of a relief. Probably the least
messy burger of the bunch, but also pricey at $13.50 ($14.50 with
cheese). What really seals the deal, however, are the “Awesome” fries
that are the crunchiest, crispiest I’ve had lately.
Leave a little room for dessert if you can. Specials change up
regularly, but a fall black fig tarte tatin was worth every calorie
I’ll be trying to burn off over the next six months. K&L Bistro, 119 S. Main, Sebastopol, 707.823.6614.