Once upon a time, a burger was just a convenient way to eat meat on the go, and finding cheese on top was a red-letter day. But things have come a long way since that first simple sandwich. The humble hamburger is actually the culinary equivalent of a blank canvas, just begging for some creativity. Now, a "normal" burger will often contain such delicious additions as bacon, mushrooms, and blue cheese, but that's just the middle of the bell curve. Look to the extremes of the graph and things get a little more "interesting." Here are a few burgers that you won't find on every menu … and you might not want to.
Reeses PBC Burger
There are some ingredients that just don't seem like they belong on a burger, but you can't push boundaries without challenging expectations, and so we have the Reeses PBC (peanut butter cup) burger from Canadian burger restaurant The Works. But don't make the mistake of thinking that they just threw a few PBCs on a regular burger to get some headlines, because they also stuff some inside the patty prior to cooking—which could still just be a cry for attention. This is either a brave and timely challenge to outdated assumptions, or an unnecessary mashup that sacrifices two beloved culinary classics on the altar of publicity. Could this be the one time where "separate but equal" is actually an appropriate compromise?
Southern Comfort Burger
Stuffed burgers might actually be the future of the burger industry, but if we've learned anything from peanut butter cups, it's that we must tread carefully. Or, we could just charge straight ahead regardless of good taste and reasonable expectation, and just shove some mac and cheese all up in there, because why the heck not? The Nook, of Atlanta, Georgia, might sound like a sentimental type of place, but when it comes to food they're about as warm and gentle as a tsunami. Happily erasing well-worn food faves, and forcibly carving out new trends in the process, they are the creators of the Southern Comfort Burger (among many other things, including Totchos). This hot bacon and mac-and-cheese stuffed burger—topped with potato chips, cheese, and a special Southern Comfort-based peach barbecue sauce—could be the magical merging of two great comfort foods, or an unsettling culture clash. But since it won a "Best Contemporary Burger" award in 2011, we'll assume the former … for now.
The Original db Burger
It must be a challenge for classy restaurants to serve regular food: they know the customers want it, but they need to be able to charge an arm and a leg for it. So they either slap on a bunch of expensive stuff, or try to make a regular burger as good as possible, and just charge a little less than they would like. The db Bistro in New York has gone with the first option, and created the Original db Burger. Drop $35 on this sandwich and you get a sirloin burger stuffed with braised short ribs, foie gras, and black truffle, topped with lettuce, dijon, and horseradish in a Parmesan bun … and a side of pommes frites. It sounds expensive, but looks painfully delicious, so no doubt you get your money's worth. If you do choose to eat here, you should be aware: they don't stock Pabst Blue Ribbon, not even the best vintage.
Raw Steak Tartare
The raison d'etre of Flip Burger Boutique is the reinvention of the traditional burger, hence the name. However, a cursory glance at the menu doesn't appear to offer anything particularly out of the ordinary, except perhaps for the Raw Steak Tartare burger. If you're not familiar with the concept of steak tartare, then you should know that the warning on restaurant menus about eating raw or undercooked meat definitely applies, with emphasis on the raw. And although in a good restaurant like this, the chance of actually getting sick from raw ground beef tenderloin—like they use at Flip—is very low indeed, that doesn't change the fact that you're eating raw ground beef. The other ingredients in the burger no doubt enhance the flavor significantly, and positively, but it's hard to imagine it will improve the texture much.
If you find yourself at Flip but red meat isn't quite your style, don't worry: they make a Raw Tuna Tartare burger too.
Quadruple Coronary Bypass Burger
Vortex Bar and Grill of Atlanta, Georgia, has a special section of its menu dedicated to its coronary bypass burgers. The first item in that section is, very simply, the Coronary Bypass Burger, and as you might have gathered it only has one patty. That doesn't make it a cream-puff burger though, because one of the things you should know about this coronary bypass family of bad choices is that they don't have traditional buns—they use grilled cheese sandwiches instead. The restaurant obviously wants anyone considering the burger to go in with their eyes open, because they tell you right on the menu how many calories they estimate are in the dish which, for the single burger, totals 3707. With that in mind, let's look at the Quadruple Bypass Burger. Instead of two grilled cheese sandwiches, the quadruple uses four patty melts to try to contain the 32 ounces of ground sirloin, 28 slices of cheese, four fried eggs, 27 strips of bacon, and 12 ounces—more than half a pint—of mayo (plus a pile of cheesy potato and bacon on the side, but let's not get distracted). All together (including the side dish) we are talking enough calories to keep your average John Doe running for over four days … and it costs $79.95.
Les Hambur goûts
Possibly the strangest, and perhaps even the craziest, burger on this list comes from the Chalet Regain restaurant, near the Swiss border in France. If you're wondering what the French really think about the humble American classic, then this "burger" might give you a clue. The best way to describe it might be as a "deconstruction," where the parts are there, but require some assembly. According to J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats, the burger arrived with the top bun perched on top of a spherical bottle containing a red sauce. The top bun had a hole cut in it to fit over the bottle, and was itself surmounted by a cylinder containing the greens. Such a bizarre approach to what should be a simple dish suggests that when it comes to burgers, either the creator doesn't really get the point, or is deliberately making fun. Either way, he's crazy.