We were at Holeman & Finch, participating in the cult experience known as the Burger. The H&F burger routinely makes it on to most “America’s best burger” lists and I learned of it while watching Bourdain consume it on his Atlanta episode of “the Layover,”
The ridiculous thing about this burger is that they only serve 24 a night, at 10pm, so they recommend you get there at 7:30pm (“certainly no later than 8pm”) to reserve one. That’s exactly what we did; we arrived at 7:30pm, put our names in for a table and grabbed four seats in the bar area. My Seattle friends, Kim and Jeff, were hungry and did not think they would last the 2.5 hours before eating. They wanted to have dinner and then split a burger for “dessert”. Steve and I shared an order of fish and chips ($14), planning to consume a burger each.
The fish was porgy, lightly battered and crispy. The fries were thick cut potato wedges. Both were fried well, but I thought the plate lacked seasoning.
Kim and Jeff had a smattering of appetizers: deviled eggs, peach salad, cotechino, glazed sweetbreads and steak tartar. I tried the last two and thought they were tasty and well executed. They seemed to enjoy all their selections.
At 9pm, our table was ready and we moved in to the dining room. We still had another hour to go, so we got another round of drinks and decided have dessert first. There were five desserts offered, we got four ($6-$7, each), foregoing the Coke float. The bacon caramel popcorn is an excellent bar snack; it was sweet, salty, smoky and crunchy all at the same time. My only complaint is that there weren’t enough chunks of bacon. Poof Jeff never got one.
The fried peach pie had a nice flaky crust, but I would have liked more peach filling. I thought the sticky toffee pudding was great; it was rich and decadent. The loser was the pork fat caramel. In all fairness, our waiter attempted to warn us off, but it sounded too intriguing to pass up. It was a caramel dip served with peach and pear slices. The bacon caramel popcorn was a much better sugar/porcine combo.
At long last, 10pm came. There was a bullhorn announcing the arrival of the burgers. I was pretty full so I offered to share with Kim so that Jeff could have my full burger. He happily agreed.
The burger ($12) is a double cheeseburger on a homemade bun, with all homemade condiments (pickles, mustard, ketchup). The beef is a blend of chuck and brisket and the two thin patties are cooked griddle-style. This article describes each component of the burger in meticulous detail: http://eater.com/archives/2013/07/30/eater-elements-the-holeman-finch-burger.php
The burger did not disappoint. Beefy juices erupt in to your mouth at the first bite and it is a burger experience unlike any other. All the components sing together in symphony of flavors and before you realize it, you have eaten the whole thing. I was sad to realize I gave away half a burger to Jeff, but Steve (either out of chivalry or fullness) offered me more of his burger. I demurred for half a second and then consumed it. The burger came with fries, but they were nothing special.
Our waiters, both at the bar and the table were funny, friendly and helpful. The bar prices are high - Kim was amazed to discover her hard cider and the burger were the same price.
So, was it worth waiting 2.5 hours for a burger? Absolutely. The burger is phenomenal in and of itself, but part of the experience is the waiting and anticipation, knowing you are one of only two dozen people able to enjoy the burger that night. Besides, it’s not like we were waiting outside in the pouring rain; we had drinks, appetizers, desserts and great friends and conversation to pass the time. But, if you don’t want to spend the evening waiting, H&F also serves an unlimited amount of the burger for Sunday brunch.