As beloved eatery Two Boroughs Larder goes into their final week of service, Eater looks back on the coverage of chef Josh Keeler's magnificent burger. The restaurant serves the majestic creation only one night a week (sometimes brunch), and tonight, Wednesday, July 27, will be the last time patrons can order the meaty triumph at TBL.
Keeler and company have upped production of the burger to meet demand, but go early if you'd like to guarantee you'll get to say goodbye to this beauty. Read below on the coverage from Burger Week 2015.
Wednesday nights at Two Boroughs Larder are burger nights. It's the only evening guests can order chef Josh Keeler's signature double patty, mornay, and bacon creation — but, hurry, there are only 24 of these miniature masterpieces in the kitchen. The burger is crave-worthy example of what a James Beard-nominated chef can do with the simple concept of meat between buns. From the sesame seeds to the sear, Keeler meticulously thinks through every detail of the plate. Here, he explains the components of the TBL burger and why he only offers 24 of them.
The Bun: We get our bread from Brown's Court. When we first put the burger on the menu, it was on brioche. We ended up changing it about a year ago. We changed it to a milk dough. It's much softer. It's less dense and rich. Brioche has so much butter, it can feel overpowering. I'm partial to seeds on a burger bun. It's rare that someone will complain about seeds on their bun. I'll take them off though. And you can take anything off, but I won't add anything. The only thing I'll add is mustard. I'm adamant about not having ketchup in the restaurant. We never have it. We don't serve french fries. Too much work goes into our burger for someone to cover it in ketchup.
I'm adamant about not having ketchup in the restaurant.Meat Ratios: We either get our meat from Niman Ranch, Painted Hills, or Southeast Family farms out of Alabama. None of them are grass-fed. All of them are pasture-raised. I support grass-fed when it's done right, but there's a lot of really mediocre grass-fed beef out there that's very liver-y. I think what makes our burger special is less about the meat that goes into it. It's 75 percent chuck, 25 percent brisket, and then we go back and add another 10 percent fat after what we get from the chuck. It ends up being about 65 to 35 ration — meat to fat. We roll it into logs and then slice it so it doesn't get too impacted. We twist it up so it's just tight enough to stay together. It creates a better sear when you sear it in a really hot pan. There's more service area, if it's not as packed down. The fat renders quicker, and it creates a crust on it. I think that's the important thing — do not overpack your burger. That's what makes our burger tastes better. Most people use less fat. I prefer regular beef over grass-fed or dry-aged. I think when you're looking for a burger, that's what you want. I don't want a really fancy burger, I just want a burger that's done well.
And it is an obnoxious burger — it's kind of messy.Why double patties? To kind of be obnoxious, I think. We wanted to do a big burger, a 10-ounce burger to make it kind of obnoxious, but cooking a 10-ounce burger doesn't work really well. You'll end up undercooking or overcooking it quite a bit, because it's just too much meat. We cut it into two patties, because we could get the sear we wanted without overcooking the meat. We still have 10-ounces on there. And it is an obnoxious burger — it's kind of messy.
Mornay Sauce: We wanted to do something other than melted cheese. Mornay seemed like the logical answer. We first made a burger about three years ago, and we really wanted a cheese sauce to go with the entire obnoxious idea. It's messy and gooey. The thing about putting cheese on your burger is, there's either one piece on top or the bottom, and it doesn't disperse itself well. We thought, by putting a sauce on it, it would work out better. And it's funny to watch people eat it. You can't put it down once you start eating it. If you put it down, it won't work anymore.
You can't put it down once you start eating it.Nueske's Bacon: We always put bacon on the burger. Nueske's isn't the best bacon in the world, but it's a really good bacon, and it's really consistent. It's got good smoke, and it's always the same product, which I think is really nice. With a lot of the smaller bacon companies, it's different every single time.
A Pickled Element: We always put some sort of pickle on it. Sometimes it's kimchee, sometimes it's okra, sometimes it's peppers. Most times it's dill or bread and butter pickles. That's because a burger needs a little bit of crunch and acidity. You need something to help cut through all that fat and richness. We make these. The only things we don't make are bread and bacon. We don't' have room to make bread, and we can't keep up with the bacon demand for the burgers and breakfast sandwiches.
Why only 24 burgers? The burger is a really easy sell. I put it on the lunch menu once, and it was an easy sell. If someone isn't sure what they are going to eat, they're going to eat a burger. The thought was to make a really good burger and make it in limited qualities to appease that person who wants that burger, but still challenge our diners on a regular basis. Sometimes we'll offer it on Saturday brunch, but it's always a little different than the normal burger.