Note: This burger quest happened almost 2 years ago (and I’ve had a few since) so technically its out of the framework for this burger quest. That being said, it wouldn’t be right to keep this experience out of the quest. Here is my attempt to recapture the glory that happened the first time I had the Whiskey King burger.
July 2011: I had tried to go to Village Whiskey a few times prior. Once being my birthday with a few of my buds. They do not take ressies so the wait was almost 2 hours. We decided to ditch that and go to a place where we could start drinking immediately. If we had waited then I probably wouldn’t have gotten super drunk before dinner even began and told a group of 6 dudes out of nowhere that “Guys, I’m getting engaged soon!”, when I had no plans of proposing for almost 8 months. Yea, that happened. The best part about having dickhead buds is their ability to talk you into drinking when you don’t want to. But I digress.
I finally was able to get to Village Whiskey on a warm July weekday night in 2011. Bman accompanied me with the promise of a Macallan 12 procured for him (by me). I have a lot of respect for Jose Garces. I think his concepts and cooking are very down to earth, he’s no-nonsense and produces creative and delicious food. I had high expectations for not only the Whiskey King burger but the entire experience.
We began with Macallan 12’s on the rocks. The consensus was to skip any ‘teasers and just go straight for the main event. I present the Whiskey King Burger:
8 oz’s of magnificent beef (blend unknown), perfectly seared and delectable foie gras, chewy and smoky applewood bacon, maple bourbon glazed cipollini and pungent and savory blue cheese. Put simply, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Easily in my top 3 of all time.
Meat: For a burger whose attention certainly turns more to the toppings side, the meat is something special. Full of flavor in every bite. I couldn’t tell you the blend nor the purveyor, so whomever is putting that meat together is doing something fantastic. It was a nice mix of nutty, fatty goodness that was cooked to a perfect medium rare. If I had known the blend, it would have been the only way to make this meat a perfect 10 out of 10. Next time I should ask the server, instead of relying on the interweb to find the blend. Yeah, that makes more sense. (Score: 9.5 out of 10)
Toppings: As I’ve stated previously, I do not like too many toppings on my burger. I think that it takes away from the key ingredient, the meat. The Whiskey King is one of the few exceptions to that rule. Prior to this I did not have much experience with foie gras. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I had it. Even though it was the first time I tasted that fatty goodness, I felt as though me and FG have spent a lifetime together. It was beautifully seared on the outside, pink in the middle and ridiculously rich. Even though my health disapproves, I am now hooked on foie gras. The bacon was exactly the way I like it; chewy, smoky and a tad bit sweet. The cipollini was fully of maple flavor and the blue cheese completed the burger with its savory accents. I have yet to find a burger that has more toppings than I need, but in the end I wind up needing the toppings to complete the burger. That probably makes no sense, but whatever. (Score: 10 out of 10)
Bun: Again, a bun can make or break a burger. This bun took good care of the gold inside it. A doughy, sweet bun (i believe it was brioche, but not 100% sure), with a few sesame seeds on top. I’m not an overall fan of sesame seeds, so only a few will keep me interested. A bun with too many sesame seeds gives an unnecessary additional flavor. Overall, this bun did the burger and its toppings justice. (Score: 9 out of 10)
Presentation: Jose Garces is a very smart man and I have no doubt that he keeps only the best talent around. Even though it was packed to the brim and we had to wait almost 30 minutes to seat (there was a wait even for bar seats), we never once felt rushed. I dislike the constant contact from a server, it makes me feel rushed. Sure, you can ask me a few times how I’m doing, do I need anything etc, but anything over 3 times is excessive. The server we had was great. Not only was he able to recommend a 12 y/o scotch similar to a Macallan 12, but he was able to describe it so that a 4-year-old would understand the differences (I’m pretty much like a 4 y/o when it comes to scotch). The burger came out on a plate with just a pickle, pretty much the only thing I can put up with on a plate besides the burger. Also, being that I am Jewish, I love pickles. Win/Win for me all around. (Score: 9.5 out of 10).
Overall Thoughts: This was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I could tell you the other 2 burgers I believe to be the best, but you’ll just have to wait for the reviews. Everything about this burger from the restaurant to the burger itself to the service is a punt return for a TD in a tied game with no time on the clock. In other words, it’s something fucking awesome that does not happen often. To be honest, the only thing stopping me from giving this burger a perfect 10 is not knowing what the blend is. But that’s a secret I’m sure Jose Garces is keeping to himself, which is totally fine by me.
Overall Score: 38 out of 40. 9.5 Overall