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Thursday, August 4, 2011

N2 Burnt Mallows

Once in a while, it's good to be enlightened. 

For many, the application of modernist cooking techniques (nee molecular gastronomy) appear to be laborious and expensive ways of capturing familiar flavors. In short, there are easier ways of accomplishing the same thing. Only in the hands of a true artist with a deep understanding of food science can it come together in a dining experience that is novel - and delicious. And that's what I discovered in a recent visit to Atlanta's Flipburger Boutique, helmed by Top Chef winner Richard Blais.

First, a comment on the sandwiches themselves: the burgers are a modest 5.5 ounces, not the half pound monsters people in Houston seek out. That said, we thought they were perfectly portioned - enough to be sate the appetite, but not so full as to have room for the other things on the menu. Moreover, the bread was beautifully matched to the filling, not only in dimensions, but in texture and flavor. Icing on the cake: the prices were reasonable, if not downright cheap for food of this quality (and gimmicky).

Mushroom Swiss burger. The Swiss cheese was converted into a foam - it may look a bit like canned spray cheese, but tastes so much better. And texturally matching the perfectly medium rare patty as it disintegrated into chunks of juicy umami. 

Cuban sandwich. Very nice contrasts in savory and acid, freshly herbacious contrasting with the pork. Up there with some of the best Cuban sandwiches I've had, and it wasn't even heat pressed.

A glass of liquid nitrogen served up as milkshakes are made.
Perhaps the most touristy thing is every molecular gastronomist's signature pink elephant: a giant container of liquid nitrogen in the corner of the room. And Flipburger uses it in making liquid nitrogen milkshakes. Now making liquid nitrogen ice cream is pretty de rigeur - a lot of vapor and sizzling results in a good show, but really, not very practical. And the resulting ice cream is really only marginally different from standard ice cream. However, the flavors and actual milkshake base that Flipburger uses are top notch.

Burnt marshmallow and Nutella milkshake. Perhaps the best thing we had on the menu. Burning the marshmallows conveyed a sophisticated bitterness that was appropriate to the drink. Liquid nitrogen was a gimmick, but I'd happily order this again. And at $5, it's quite reasonable.

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