I’m not a big fan of chain restaurants as a rule. But does it count as a chain if it only has 3 locations, the first of which is in Birmingham, is part-owned by Richard Blais, a Top Chef All-Stars winner, and was featured by Food and Wine for having burgers that are “over the top”? I might have to reconsider.
Enter Flip Burger, a restaurant at the Summit. It is located at the first exit on your left as you enter the mall. This very modern sign greets you at the door, a reflection of what is to come:
The menu includes a long list of very creative burgers, but isn’t just burgers-there are salads and sides, and 1 vegetarian burger option (a falafel burger):
We started with a shake. This place loves to use molecular gastronomy techniques, so a milkshake isn’t just a milkshake-it is finished off with some liquid nitrogen. We had the Nutella and burnt marshmallow:
Then came the summer salad, which had pickled onions and cauliflower mixed in with avocado, fresh herbs, and green goddess dressing:
For our entrees, we ordered a sampler which included (clockwise): a fried chicken sandwich, which the waiter said included homemade pickles; a blue cheese burger with caramelized onions and red wine jam; and brisket with BBQ sauce on top of a beef burger. Each one was an incredible mixture of flavors, and somehow the combination of these three items seemed ideal. What could be better than a plate of fried, slightly sweet, and slightly savory?
Mushrooms and gruyere are two of my favorite things, so we had to try the earth and turf burger, which definitely lived up to my expectations:
What’s a burger without fries, which per the menu are “proudly fried in beef tallow” (don’t worry, we had to look that up too, and it is just about what you would expect it to be). They’re served with house made ketchup and smoked mayo:
Having eaten at some of the other top US upscale burger chains like Shake Shack and Bobby’s Burger Palace, this place delivers in a similar way: an excellent, unique burger with excellent, unique accompaniments. What’s unique and actually surprising about this place is the service. It is 5-star fine dining service. When the server saw that I was interested in photographing the shake (I didn’t tell him why I was photographing it-I’m sure he assumed I was just another tacky Birmingham tourist), he insisted on bringing some more liquid nitrogen to ensure a good photo effect (which I got). Silverware was replaced between courses. When I stood up to use the restroom all of the staff in unison pointed in the direction of the restrooms. Our waiter held the door open on our way out. Granted, the place wasn’t too busy, but I got the feeling the service would have been the same had the place been packed.
So, to sum it up, a 5 star burger experience. Not the healthiest of meals, but you only live once, and at this rate, we will be living a few years shorter.