Tuesday, August 14, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 23

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Gourmet burger joint Burgerim opens in Santa Maria


Burgers are a complicated little package.

In 2001, acclaimed French chef Daniel Boulud launched a revolution in fine dining with a gourmet burger. He originally made the dish for a journalist who wanted to interview him about a group of French terrorists who had threatened to blow up a McDonald’s. Boulud had no intentions of becoming the next In-N-Out, but he toyed with the idea of creating something that would eventually be part of his menu.

One of the fun things about Burgerim’s setup is it encourages experimentation and creativity with the menu items. Choices of patty include beef, turkey, lamb, dry-aged beef, chicken, chorizo, salmon, veggie, spicy beef, and for an extra charge, Wagyu beef.

The burger looked decadent from the start. It was made with foie gras and black truffle; the patty was sirloin and stuffed with slowly braised short ribs. Boulud eventually added it to his menu at DB Bistro Moderne for $28. Depending on market prices for ingredients, the burger could at times reach as high as $100 (today it sells for $35). As the story goes, the food world was shook.

Gourmet burgers eventually started popping up everywhere; American bistros quickly added items like Kobe beef burgers as the trend swept through the restaurant industry. Blue cheese and bacon were no longer unique toppings (they sell that burger at Wendy’s now) as items like goat cheese, sriracha, quail eggs, and maitake mushrooms all lined up next to traditional burger toppings.

I defy you to find an American bistro that didn’t serve a $25 burger in 2004. But, as with everything, chefs and diners especially got bored with the trend and moved on to other things, like putting bacon on literally every single thing, or turning avocado toast into a fine dining highlight.

Enter Burgerim. Launched less than 10 years ago in Israel, the chain quickly expanded with global franchises around the world, including Spain, the United Kingdom, Russia, and others. By 2016, the restaurant had more than 160 restaurants worldwide. The Santa Maria location opened in September at the Skyway Center on Broadway and Skyway Drive.

Burgerim is a reclamation of sorts, taking the gourmet burger back to its fast food roots. Burgerim’s boxes tout their product as  “gourmet burger,” and the menu bears hints of Boulud’s long shadow hanging over words such as “Wagyu beef” and “arugula.”

It’s not just all about the beef at Burgerim, which opened in Santa Maria in September. The franchise offers chicken sandwiches, wraps, salads, chicken wings, and much more.

The burgers are actually sliders; diners are meant to order more than one, which encourages experimentation with their broad menu. Patty options include 10 different choices: beef, turkey, lamb, dry-aged beef, chicken, chorizo, salmon, veggie, spicy beef, and for an extra charge, Wagyu beef.

Standard sides include shredded lettuce, romaine, onions, red onions, grilled onions, American cheese, and pickles. If you want to do a deep dive on your burger, they also offer an expanded topping menu with items such as pineapple, bacon, fried eggs, and more.

On my first visit I had the Wagyu beef (because who can turn that down) and the lamb. You also have your choice of how your meat is prepared, which is a nice touch at an eatery that leans toward fast food. The Wagyu is excellent, and I had it prepared the standard way (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, and mayo). I did the same with the lamb, which is probably the best of all the patty options on the menu. Lamb can be a bit gamy if you’re not used to it in a burger form, but just go with it because by the third bite you’ll realize why it’s so popular.

On my next visit, I decided to get a little crazy and try some new flavor combinations. Keep in mind that any burger you order will automatically come with pickles, ketchup, mayo, cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. If you don’t want those and just want to create your unique topping list, let your cashier know to start plain with no toppings.

A fried egg is just one of many unique toppings Bugerim offers for their gourmet sliders. Pineapple, jalapenos, roasted bell peppers, avocados, Swiss cheese, and bleu cheese are all on the menu.

I first tried the dry-aged beef with roasted bell peppers and bleu cheese. This was one of the best “fast food” dishes I’ve ever had. Dry-aged beef (aged to lose about 5 percent of its moisture) results in a much more concentrated flavor, and to get something like that on fast casual dining establishment is pretty special.

With the merguez patty, I added avocado and mixed greens. Merguez is a blend of warm spices typically made with cumin, paprika, fennel, cinnamon, and cayenne. Burgerim’s patty had heat, but nothing overwhelming (and it balances well with something like lettuce or avocado). This is a close second to the dry-aged patty, and I definitely recommend everyone try this at least once.

Burgerim is open in Santa Maria at 3564 Skyway Dr. A, Santa Maria. More info: bugerim.com or 332-3283.

But there are also options for those who don’t eat beef or meat. While I’m not much of a seafood burger fan, the salmon burger tasted fresh and mild. Vegetarians can opt for the veggie burger or falafel. Burgerim sides include sweet potato fries, onion rings, and their version of a french fry, which resembles a potato chip but has the taste and texture of a fry. Plus, the prices are pretty good. An Uno box with one burger, side, and drink starts at $6.95, a Duo starts at $9.95, and a Trio starts at $12.95. Two of them fill me up, but if you want to experiment with different patties and toppings, the Trio is the way to go (plus it’s the best value). Also, if you’re going for lunch, word of mouth is spreading quickly, so expect a little wait time (trust me it’s totally worth it).

Burgerim has a done a good job creating addictive bites of burgers (I’ve gone three times this week) in an economical and convenient package while still retaining their gourmet soul.

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose needs bacon on more things. Contact her at rrose@santamariasun.com.

Tri-tip flatbread pizza at Ca’ Del Grevino.

• I finally got to try the tri-tip flatbread pizza at Ca’ Del Grevino (pictured); it’s made with red sauce, red onions, and a balsamic reduction. They have a pretty full flatbread pizza menu, including prosciutto and fig. The tasting room, which also features live music and karaoke, is located at 2510 E. Clark Ave., Orcutt.

Kay’s Country Kitchen has brought the guacamole burger back. This is not a drill. The eatery is located at 135 E. Clark Ave., Orcutt.

• I’m thrilled to announce Naughy Oak Brewing Company is introducing a new beer named after the world’s greatest newspaper, the Sun! The blonde ale, Sun Beer, will be available beginning Oct. 5 and through October at 165 S. Broadway St., Suite 102, Orcutt.

Weekly Poll
What can local governments do to address poverty?

Invest in affordable housing.
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Rent control.
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