We’re Officially Hooked on Red Apron Butcher’s Burger
Our latest burger crush is the new Red Apron Butcher in Merrifield. And dammit, we’re crushing hard.
The joint has barely been open two weeks in the new Mosaic development and we’re already hooked on Chef Nate Anda’s simple, yet phenomenal, beef-on-a-bun creation. Anda’s whole menu reads like it was put together by a carnivoristic Dr. Frankenstein and there’s not a single thing on it we’d hesitate to throw into our faces, but we keep coming back to one special item: the burger.
Ohhh, that burger.
There’s just one on the menu and it’s a bit too easy to overlook when you’ve got things like the Porkstrami, a pulled pork-topped hot dog called Frank White, and a provolone-stuffed Italian dog aka Joey Bag of Doughnuts staring at you in the face. But woe be the belly that passes up the nondescript “The Original” residing at the bottom of the page, for it is one of the tastiest burgers we’ve had the pleasure of eating in a very long time.
The five-ounce, 80/20 blend of brisket, short rib, sirloin and round is fantastic. It’s rich and flavorful and seasoned with the right amount of salt and pepper to keep the spotlight on the meat. The patty comes covered in melted cheddar and, if you’re lucky, you might score some cheese that spent time directly on the griddle, resulting in a crispy, crusty edge of cheesy goodness (a la Shady Glen).
While it has the standard lettuce, tomato and onion, the few thin slices of housemade pickles along with Anda’s take on Thousand Island, give the whole thing an undeniably unique tanginess that sets it apart from the typical cheeseburger. The veggies sit atop the patty providing the requisite texture and crunch, while the sauce is slathered on the bottom half of a delicious, toasted, buttery brioche bun made by Neighborhood Restaurant Group pastry Chef Tiffany Maclsaac. The bun is just about perfect, and while the sauce location does tend to break down the bottom half faster than the top, our burgers haven’t lasted long enough in front of us for it be a problem.
The Original is not the slightest bit fancy (and coming from the back of a butchery, we hope you don’t expect it to be), but that’s what makes it just so damn good. When you’ve got quality meat and it’s cooked well, that’s all you need. The best burgers (Palena, 2941, Shake Shack) don’t have toppings reaching the double digits or a slew of sauces. Sure we eat –and love– the mile-high-topped monsters too, but when it comes down to the very essence of a hamburger –a combination of beef and bread– Chef Anda and Red Apron have the formula down to a tee.
Now this is important: when placing your order, you’ll be told the burger is cooked medium. That’s good. Do not protest. We admit, at first we were a bit hesitant as we prefer a rare-to-medium-rare order, but that’s because so many places don’t know how to cook a burger properly. On all our visits, a medium order at Red Apron delivered an expertly-cooked and loose-packed patty, plenty juicy with a pink-to-red middle. If you prefer it well-done (really, do you even like red meat?), other than seriously considering changing the way you order burgers, you should pass this one up because cooking this thing any more would be doing a disservice to the beef. Trust us.
Right now, Merrifield is the only place to get Red Apron’s burger, but we’re told it will be added to the menu at the Union Market location soon, though with limited availability. We also hear that Chef Anda is busy toying around with different burger combinations, so while The Original is currently the lone burger representative on the menu, those fantasizing of a Porkstrami-burger hybrid might one day find their meaty dreams a reality.
Red Apron Butcher | 8298 Glass Alley | Fairfax | redapronbutcher.com | @redapronbutcher