Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Egg (Burger) and I

I recall an episode of one of Tony Bourdain's television shows where he was eating some sort of sandwich and commented to his companion that there is probably no food item that cannot be improved by the addition of a runny egg.  So true.

Case in point: The Croque Madame.  What is it?  A ham and cheese sandwich, of course.  Well, actually, the Croque Monsieur is the ham and cheese sandwich.  Good bread,  (brioche, if possible) good swiss cheese, good ham, and mornay sauce toasted in clarified butter.  But if that doesn't tighten up your chest, serve it open faced and add a couple of eggs over the top.  Voila! Croque Madame.  I am telling you, there is just something about letting that golden yellow egg yolk ooze all over the cheese and ham and soak into the bread.  Phenomenal.

As it turns out, that oozy, gooey yolk can also work wonders on the most American of sandwiches, the burger.

I recall way back when the Hamburger Inn was a little joint that served small burgers or dogs at the counter on waxed paper.  There were several Fenn's ice cream signs on the wall.  That place was the best.  It was one of those places you were kind of scared to eat at until you tried it.  I miss that place so much.  I vaguely recall the option to have a fried egg on a burger and I recall thinking, "who the hell would do something like that?  Yuck!"  Oh, how foolish.

In more recent history, the definitive place to get an egg burger has been the Little Coalinga on 8th and Indiana.  If you haven't been there, drop everything and go.  Now.  The Colinga is THE definitive dive bar in Sioux Falls.  (Sorry, Crow Bar.  If you were still at 22nd or Minnesota, you'd have a shot.)  The Coalinga is divine.  Cold beer.  Strong drinks.  Great food- especially burgers, a great juke box, and great people hanging around.  The owner, Jane, is the best.  Get to know her.  But anyway, yes, egg burger.

The most recent egg burger addition to Sioux Falls?  JL Beers on Phillips Avenue.  JL Beers is tiny- 47 seats.  Many beers on tap and more in bottles.  Great burger.  These aren't whopping half pounders, but smallish all beef patties cooked on a flat top grill.  And they are cooked lightening fast.  You probably can't finish a pint of beer before your burger is delivered.  Hot, juicy beef on a bun that feels like a feather pillow.  And, yes, the option to get a Humpty Dumpty- a cheese burger with egg.  I added grilled onions to mine for like another 75 cents.  One interesting commentary on the JL menu.  Burgers are cheap- about four bucks.  But there's a catch.  If you want some fries, they are separately ordered.  Actually, the friendly server will probably recommend you try the chips- a potato that has been spiral cut and fried up.  They are seasoned with jalapeno cheese seasoning or seal salt.  Those are $2.39.  And you ain't done yet- one more potential up charge coming- dip.  For another buck sixty nine you can get ranch, cajun, etc and for a buck ninety nine you can get cheese sauce.  So, that cheap burger just rang up to over seven dollars with the fries.  Anyway, it's good.  Try one.  Get there early and sit at the bar.  Oh, and drink beer, because you are going to pay $1.50 for a bottle of water.  Damned good burger.

The Attic has a couple of eggy additions to their menu.  There is a burger known as the Artery Clogger that features an egg and peanut butter.  Not bad, but the peanut butter is an odd contrast to the egg.  Attic has great burgers- nice and thick and lots of fresh toppings.  I think there is also an egg on the Triple Bypass- a burger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches.  That's just stupid.

But, although the egg burger is great, I must confess I generally have one problem with the way they are prepared around these parts.  They are cooked hard.  Basic fried egg. Yolk set and hard.  Delicious and packed with protein, but man, oh, man, how much better it would be if that yolk would only ooze all over a juicy pink in the middle hot burger.