Fans of Bravo’s Top Chef series will recognize the Chicago season runner-up Richard Blais, the spiky-haired molecular gastronome currently masterminding Atlanta’s two Flip Burger boutiques. Heralded for a creative take on American cuisine, Blais has worked his way through the kitchens of Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Ferran Adria. He’s even been a competitor on Iron Chef: America. So what’s he now doing running a burger joint? Reinventing what we’ve come to expect from a burger, fries, and shakes.
“Fine dining between two buns” is Flip’s motto and it sets you up perfectly (almost) for what’s to come, starting with the sleek red and white interiors. Spacious booths are padded out to create a cocoon of leather, giving the whole enterprise the feel of, er, well, the Enterprise. Spotlessly clean and vaguely futuristic, you’ve arrived at a burger joint the Jetson’s could only dream of. A quick glance across the menu and it looks like burgers and fries and shakes, but look closer: chocolate beet milkshakes? short rib kimchee and pickled garlic burgers? foie gras nuggets? Huh? This is serious food, meticulously prepared: parsnip frittes, sesame sweetbreads, roasted bone marrow with braised oxtail, fried pickles with buttermilk sirancha, and burgers galore, like the farmer burger (organic grass-fed beef, scuppernong preserves, tomme and collard greens), the pate melt (veal and pork, lingonberry jam, cornichons, pickled shallots and swiss cheese), and the southern (chicken fried beef, pimento cheese, b&b pickles and chow chow), all served on brioche buns. And don’t forget the milkshakes, chilled to a custardy thickness courtesy of liquid nitrogen: nutella and burnt marshmallow, krispy kreme, and an unbelievable foie gras. That it’s all neatly delivered in an unpretentious, budget-friendly “boutique” is genius. That it’s delicious – even when adventurous and whimsical to a fault – well, that’s the real surprise.