Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tasting the Junky Burger at The Eatery

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It's not often that one gets to have a burger or a sandwich named after them. But if your reputation is one of eating a burger or two every day and your Twitter handle is @Burgerjunkies, it's inevitable that you will get a burger (or more) named after you. Such was the case this week when over 20 of Rodney Blackwell's friends and followers joined him to taste the Junky Burger at The Eatery. 

The Eatery has been getting a lot of favorable press of late and so I was happy to have the opportunity to check it out with a large group. The restaurant is tucked into a corner of the Target/Nugget shopping complex (Town Center Plaza) in West Sacramento. Luckily I was riding with someone who had been before otherwise I would have been hunting around looking for it. As we approached the door we saw the sign proclaiming the special of the day : The Junky Burger.

A large bank of tables along one wall was reserved for our large party. Being a new complex, the whole place has a new, contemporary feel to it. I decided that I'd slide into the long booth seating so I prepped by visiting the restroom first. Now I know it's a bit odd to immediately comment on a restaurant's bathroom, but I just had to mention a nice feature I noticed that I wish more restaurants would do - there was a rack of hooks at chair rail height next to the sinks so you could hang your purse while washing your hands! Bravo! So often we women are holding our purses between our legs to keep them dry and out of the way when we wash our hands and then have to waddle over to the towel dispenser. Thank you, Eatery, for the rack!


It was time to slide down the booth bench seat to make room for the growing number in our party. The chef came out to welcome us and Rodney while the server took our drink orders. Jeremy was kind enough to order a round of the Disco Fries for everyone. 


I wondered where the name Disco Fries came from and it turns out it is a New York/New Jersey term for cheesy gravy fries. They are of the same vein as Canadian poutine in a way. The Eatery's version was fries with bacon bits, gravy, melted cheddar, and a sunnyside up egg on top. Pair these with the burgers and you are definitely in need of your anti-cholesterol medication. I can see how some people love them, but they were a bit too much for me.


Everyone was there to try the Junky Burger. Rodney had asked for the elements, but the chef had freedom to assemble as he wished. For example, he took Rodney's request of peanut butter and chipotle and put them together in a chipotle peanut butter aioli.  I asked Rodney if he had tasted it yet to make sure it was good. After all, I was a little wary of chipotle peanut butter. Nope. This was going to be the first official tasting, so there could be some tweaking necessary. According to the chef, once approved, the Junky Burger will be a secret menu item that you have to ask for - it won't be on the menu. Here is the official description:

"An 8 ounce burger, made from a house ground blend of ribeye, chuck and brisket, topped with BBQ cured pork belly confit, bravo chipotle cheddar cheese and an over easy egg. The toasted homemade burger bun is spread with a chipotle peanut butter aioli! Served with fries and lettuce tomato and pickle on the side."



I knew a half pound burger was going to be a bit much for me, so I split mine with Jeremy. That way I could order another item. Since we had the Disco Fries I opted for a side salad over the normal fries with the burger.

The plate was packed with food. There was a generous salad, the Junky Burger, and then more typical burger toppings if you wanted them (lettuce, onions, tomato, pickles). In the future I will definitely order my salad dressing on the side as the salad was a bit of a wet mess. I barely touched it.

Jeremy and I had agreed on a medium rare burger and were pleased that ours came out right (some others were a degree up from what they ordered). The egg yolk was dripping down the side and the pork belly slices were cut nice and thick - no chintzing around there. Our only complaint was that we really couldn't taste much of the chipotle peanut butter aioli. It was very faint. I had really wanted to feel some heat from the chipotle and felt none. Later someone passed around a side order of the aioli so that we could taste it on its own or on a french fry. Much better! There was a smokey heat with the definite flavor of peanut butter. The consensus was that more of the aioli needs to be on the burger or served to the side. (This is the one tweak Rodney did ask for in the future.)

Some people didn't like the bun, which apparently is made in-house. I thought what was more important was that it held up well against a very messy, large burger. I could easily see a different bun falling apart. Myself, I think next time I will order it bunless as I am trying to cut down on carbs and would be better able to focus on the more important components - the innards.


I decided to order the pork belly appetizer as well. It consisted of crispy pork belly, sweet potato mash, apple slaw, maple syrup, and blackberries. I enjoyed the crisp belly with tangy crunch of the slaw contrasting with the sweet syrup. My focus was on the pork and so I didn't mess much with the sweet potato. Each of the pieces you see above is about the size of a large die.

Overall my first visit to The Eatery was a pleasant one and worthy of a return trip. Today was a first time tasting of a new burger and it sounds like everyone enjoyed it. The one tweak asked for by all was more of the aioli. Meanwhile I am left to ponder what I would ask for on my dream burger should I ever be given such an opportunity. Hmmmmmmm.




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