There are two new burger places in Tel Aviv that are remarkably similar in concept. Both source their beef from exclusive suppliers and have short, user-friendly menus that make life easy for the kitchen and the customers – without stinting on flavor or quality.
Fat Cow Tom & Triger Butcher Burger is the brainchild of Tom Aviv, the winner of TV’s Master Chef sixth season, and chef of the Italian bar-restaurant Coco Bambino (see The Jerusalem Post review of July 7). Aviv’s partners in the enterprise are Saguy Triger of Sarona Market’s Triger and Bar Butcher Shop, and Ori Raz and Itay Bitton, co-owners of the restaurants Coco Bambino and Piazza (the latter is right across the street from Fat Cow).
The restaurant’s décor is pretty much “in your face”: One gratuitously offensive slogan plastered everywhere – including on staff T-shirts – is “F*ck Skinny” (spelled with the “u,” of course), while another motto – “Kill the Butcher” – strikes the observer as being inappropriate on an establishment co-owned by a butcher. Wallpaper motifs featuring skulls, crossbones and knives might be unsettling to some.
The printed menu can be a little disconcerting as well. It is bilingual only in the most confusing of senses – half in English and half in Hebrew. The names of items are in English only, while the descriptions are only in Hebrew. It seems to be designed to annoy speakers of both languages equally.
There are four house cocktails (NIS 29), but only one wine and one brand of beer. The Rosso – Martini Rosso with Chambord and tonic – is complex and refreshing, while the frozen margarita is not the classic lime but a sweet mango flavor.
The food menu comprises just three burgers: the Basic (NIS 49), the Cheeseburger (NIS 54) and the Distracted (NIS 56). All three are also available as meal deals with fries and a soft drink for NIS 62 and NIS 65. There used to be two chicken dishes, but neither one survived Fat Cow’s first few weeks.
The Basic is a naked, 220-gram burger in a plain white bun. No lettuce, tomato or pickle is available, even as an optional extra. The condiments on the table are mayonnaise, ketchup and Tabasco brand hot sauce.
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The beef patty – which is 100% pure beef, with no filler or even onion – is indeed succulent. It is unfortunate, however, that the only moistening agent for the bread must come from a bottle, and not naturally from a fresh vegetable.
The Cheeseburger – featuring high-quality melted Gouda cheese – adds a welcome dimension to the Basic. The Distracted, on the other hand, is less a burger than a Swiss version of a sloppy joe: ground beef atop a thick cheese fondue flavored with wine and beer. In the flavor showdown, the rich cheese mixture vies for primacy with the beef, resulting in a sinfully decadent cholesterol extravaganza.
There are only two side dishes.
The so-called So Chips (NIS 12) – crinkle-cut Belgian fries – are delicious. The other is the bewilderingly named Slow & Low (NIS 14). Far from being anything that was cooked on low heat for a long time, it is a green salad, drenched in a distinctive, mildly spicy Jack Daniels vinaigrette.
Finally, the menu features one dessert, Ice Dream – which, in fact, does not exist. Apparently, several flavors of ice cream will make their appearance sometime in the future.
The Little Burger Shop (TLBS), meanwhile, is exactly that – a small counter that dispenses burgers to customers who eat them at tables on the sidewalk.
The proprietorship pattern is familiar: The restaurant’s beef supplier, Mercato, is a partner in TLBS, and the other co-owners also own the neighboring bar, Dizzy Frishdon.
The one-page menu, one side in English and one side in Hebrew, is concise, with plenty of helpful illustrations. There are only three burgers listed: the Classic (NIS 45/61), the Blumenthal beef burgers (NIS 49/65) and the Veggie Crunch vegetarian burger (NIS 44/60) (the second price is for the meal deal comprising burger, side dish and soft drink).
The difference between the Classic and the Blumenthal is the proportion of different cuts of meat and “secret mixtures” that make up the burger, all of which are spelled out in detail on the menu. The veggie-burger, meanwhile, consists of “90% Portobello Mushroom, and 10% love from nature.”
What is rather unique at TLBS is that each burger comes with three complimentary toppings. There are no fewer than 13 to choose from (although four of them are premium toppings that cost an extra NIS 8 each). Fortunately, the menu helpfully suggests recommended combinations for each beef burger.
Relying on the expertise of the menu and Omer, the knowledgeable manager, we ordered the Classic with Buche cheese, arugula and onion jam, and the Blumenthal with lamb bacon, cheddar cheese and grilled pineapple. Interestingly, the Classic comes grilled well-done, while the Blumenthal is served medium-rare. Either way, the superb 200-gram burgers were enhanced nicely by the balanced sweet and savory toppings without being overwhelmed by them.
The generously portioned side dishes include three kinds of seasoned French fries, onion clusters and one salad: wasabi coleslaw. Three condiments come with the burger meals: ketchup, mayonnaise and a particularly spicy mustard.
A bizarre coincidence is that TLBS, like Fat Cow, currently offers no dessert, despite the listing on the menu of a rotating “little sweet ending.” The restaurant says it is still experimenting until it finds the right dessert.
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.
Fat Cow Not kosher Dizengoff St. 265, Tel Aviv, Tel.
(03) 773-2591 The Little Burger Shop Not kosher Dizengoff St. 125, Tel Aviv, Tel.
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