I have always been reticent when a waitperson tells me one of their dishes is the best. After all, that’s a mighty bold statement to make. Food tastes are subjective and while I tend to agree with most folks on what is good, greatness is not objectified. So when we walked into Memphis Minnie’s Barbecue Joint in the lower Haight last night and inquired about their Maxi Burger and Ben, the general manager proudly told us it’s the best burger he had ever tasted, I was unfazed. Especially in a town where I’ve had some GREAT burgers from Bill’s to Zuni’s, I was dubious. Even more so after I asked if the beef was organic and he replied there that was no such thing. But after he started with the back peddle assuring us the beef was hormone-free, and rambling on about the pimento cheese, house-cured bacon, and little fried onions, we surrendered. He had Bruce at cheese. He had me at the onions.
When I order a burger, I have five rules:
1. No tomato
2. No lettuce
3. No bacon (go figure)
4. Minimum condiments if any at all
When the pre-halved burgers arrived, I realized there was some hope in Ben’s statement – though the meat was a little more medium than the requested medium rare, there was not a leaf of lettuce or slice of tomato in sight, the pimento cheese was oozing over the patty, thick slabs of bacon curled over the sides of the French hamburger roll and it smelled wonderful.
Bruce two-fisted the burger then took the first bite while I was trying to read his facial expression. He took the second bite, paused, looked at me and declared it was the best burger he had ever eaten. When I started to reach for one of the BBQ sauces on the table, he said, “Try it first without.”
Can this burger live up to Ben and Bruce’s hype? I took a bite. Then a second. Yes it can.
Although I did break my no bacon rule (which I implement only because bacon inevitably gets soggy and chewy in a sandwich), this bacon was thick and crunchy throughout. The bun was hard enough on the outside to hold the weight of the burger, but soft enough to absorb the meat’s juices and easily bite through. The house-made fried onions were a nice touch that gave it crunch and texture. The pimento cheese added a bit of a kick but was only mildy sharp enough as to not distract from the well seasoned beef.
I know, I know. I tend to fall in love with food rather easily. Whether it’s the #19 at Langer’s, a slice of pepperoni pizza at Lombardi’s, or the Spoonful at Koo, I swoon without hesitation. But I would like to say, last night, I was having the best burger I have ever had. Ever. And I am convinced, that at that moment, nobody was eating better than me.