Newly observant restaurateur Ori Melamed was having trouble finding a premium kosher hamburger.
“I know what an excellent hamburger tastes like,” says the ba’al teshuva, “and my search for a kosher one was unsuccessful. I knew the market was there, so I decided to make one myself.”
Melamed got to work on a recipe, found a location near the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and set up shop a few months ago. The hamburger meat is ground on the premises from four different prime cuts of beef, plus a little bit of fat for the flavor. The meat is glatt kosher, while the overall kashrut supervision of Memphis is overseen by the Rabbinate.
There is really only one burger on the menu, available in four sizes, with a choice of three toppings and two sides. For that reason, there is no printed menu but a blackboard with weights and prices. For the time being, the board is only in Hebrew; but Melamed, who has lived in the US, is happy to explain things in English.
The burgers come in patties that weigh either 180 or 250 grams (NIS 45 and NIS 55, respectively). There is also the option to double either size.
Meals consisting of a burger, fries and a drink start at NIS 55.
The Memphis burger lives up to the adjective “premium.” The thick burger has a slightly crusty exterior, while the inside is juicy and flavorful. It is served on a toasted hamburger bun with tomato, lettuce and red onion (if desired) but no pickle. The bun is moistened with a “secret sauce” devised by Melamed, using nine ingredients. No other condiments are necessary, but ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and hot sauce are available.
After tasting an unadorned burger, we ordered one with a topping of entrecôte (+NIS 16), a razor-thin slice of the finest beef, which added even more delicious complexity to the basic burger.
Melamed has tested and chosen his toppings with care, so Memphis offers only two others: goose breast or a fried egg. It is not recommended to double up on any of them.
Similarly, there are only three side dishes: French fries, sweet potato fries and coleslaw. The rippled sweet potato fries are quite nice, and the coleslaw – in a zesty dressing spiked with wasabi – is excellent.
Memphis will not deliver because, according to Melamed, the burger won’t taste the same after 30 minutes.
Even if you ask for take-away, he will ask how far you’re going.Memphis
20 Karlibach St., Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 901-7896BURGERIM
In a recent survey by Channel 10 about Israel’s leading hamburger chains, Burgerim came in as the highest rated all-kosher hamburger chain and number four overall. In the past two years, under its new ownership, Burgerim has expanded from 39 to 58 outlets, rebranded its niche as “fast casual” and upgraded its menu.
The chain’s revamped menu now resembles a full restaurant menu, with chicken dishes, sandwiches and salads available in addition to hamburgers.
And there are now eight types of burgers, with five highly touted Chef’s Recommendations. Among them we discovered two reasons Burgerim scored so high in the TV ratings.
The Yankee burger is made from 100% ground entrecôte, a prime cut of beef that elevates this particular burger. Tip: The Yankee comes with a topping of coleslaw on the patty, but if you order it with the slaw on the side, you get to taste the unadulterated burger.
Another noteworthy Chef’s burger is the Rustic burger, made from ground lamb, with a thin layer of onion jam. The quality and flavor of this burger was our second pleasant surprise of the evening.
Since the burgers at Burgerim are so small – just 80 grams, and that is before the shrinkage of being cooked – they are listed as coming in packages of two, three, eight or 16, ranging in price from NIS 35 to NIS 219. There are also Deal Meals – burgers with fries and a drink, starting at NIS 45 for a deal with two burgers.
The only way to order just one burger is to order a kid’s meal (NIS 33).
Plain burgers can be ordered with a choice of nine different toppings, and there are nine side dishes as well. The French fries are rippled discs with fluffy interiors, resembling what in the US would be called home fries, while the home fries are actually cubes of fried potato drizzled with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. The sweet potato fries are of the same quality as those at Memphis.
Tables at Burgerim are set with huge condiment trays containing ketchup, mayonnaise, garlic sauce, sriracha, barbecue sauce and spicy mayonnaise.
Interestingly, there are more than a few healthful options. Vegan dishes feature a burger made of lentils and tofu, and a lentil and tabouli salad (NIS 35). Whole grain and gluten-free rolls are also available.
There are only two desserts (NIS 15), and they are geared towards the younger set. In particular, the chewy chocolate balls – covered with coconut and colorful sprinkles – will appeal mostly to juvenile palates.Burgerim
Mega Or Complex
Galgalei Plada St., Kfar Saba
57 other locations nationwide
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.
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