Turns Out Trendy Can Do Burgers After All
The Helix Lounge isn’t the first place we’d think of to grab a bite– the Logan Circle hotel and its auto-opening velvet curtain is more Night of the Roxbury than Good Burger. Matter of fact, we didn’t have a clue they even had burgers until we got news of their new offerings last month.
After a menu revamp thanks to Baltimore’s B&O Brasserie Chef Thomas Dunklin, Helix doesn’t settle for just one burger on the menu. No, the spot comes correct with a full-on burger bar, a lineup of signature burgs, heaps of impressive toppings and a Wednesday burger night for some cheap grubbing.
Now, our track record with trendy, lounge burgers isn’t too good– more times than not when we dip into the food at these joints we end up getting high-priced beefwiches that sound pretty in the descriptionÂ but fail miserably at execution. So when we stopped in to Helix last week to get a peek at their new beefy hotness, we came awayÂ pleasantlyÂ surprisedÂ with their takes on our all-time favorite sandwich.
They don’t play it safe when it comes to their specialty burgs; you won’t find any run-of-the-mill bacon cheeseburgers in the lineup (though you can build just about any burger combination with their sizable topping selection). The lounge’s namesake burger, the Helix, is an 8 oz. local Angus beef patty topped with the most wonderful topping ever created —bacon jam— along with melted blue cheese and a serving of horseradish aioli on the side. Up until this burg, our bacon jam has only ever tangled with cheddar before and we found the sharp, tangy blue cheese to be a different, but suitable, partner for the sweet and salty goodness. It’s a solid combo.
Historically, burgers graced with bacon jam rule the day when we find them, but after throwing Helix’s other beef burg down our mouth holes, we found our usual favorite finishing second best. The reason for this aberration? Brisket chili.
Want to get us all hot and bothered? Throw a big fucking mess of meat on a burger. Want us to pop our cork? Add some fried shit to the mix too. Helix had us reaching for a change of pants with The Texan: a monster of a burger using corn-and-bean infused brisket chili, onion rings and white cheddar for a hat. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds. We loved the crunchy battered rings which made for a satisfying bite when masticating the massive mound of meat and bread.Â We didn’t bother adding any of the accompanying mustard either– this thing does just fine all on its own.
Sadly, the Texan and Helix are the lone beef representatives on the menu, though we found The Surfer, a turkey burger with avocado, pico de gallo, swiss and garlic aioli on toast, to actually be really good. The turkey was moist, the toppings fresh and, while not listed, some sort of cranberry-type spread on the bread hooked up a nice touch of sweetness. It worked for us.
But what should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Burger Days, we were not digging Helix’s take on a veggie burger. Dubbed the The Californian, the black-eyed pea patty might pass for beef given a quick glance but after taking a bite, we were left scrambling for beer to gargle. Having said that, we haveÂ absolutelyÂ no authority when dealing with meatless “burgers,” so please consider the source. But if you’re the type of person who’d even consider eschewing the beef for a plant burg, then you’ll probably love this shit. So go ahead, dig in.
Don’t go thinking the above burgers are your only choices at Helix either– that burger bar we mentioned earlier has a plethora of options. Yes, the bacon jam, brisket chili and onion rings are there but you can also top your meat with jalapeno, mushrooms, a fried egg, seven types of cheese and even crab dip. The bar is available seven days a week but now through Labor Day, you can save some loot during Backyard Bashes on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. During the special, burgers are $7 (down from $11) and come with a bag of chips. Premium toppings are a buck (exceptions are brisket chili at $3 and crap dip at $4) Â and the specialty burgs are $10 (down from a regular $14-16). Â They also hook it up with cheap booze– in addition to their regular happy hour deals, cans of DC Brau are $3.
We’re happy to see Helix buck the lounge burger trend and go the extra mile with the beef. And the fact that it’s possible to create a bacon jam, chili, fried egg and cheese topped burger makes us want to weep greasy tears of joy.
Bravo, Helix. Bravo.
Helix Lounge | 1430 Rhode Island Ave NW | DC | helixlounge.com