For chefs looking to distinguish their offerings, the burger presents a prime canvas for creativity. Moving beyond the confines of the classic burger, the gourmet burger trend is capturing the palates of discerning diners worldwide. By infusing menus with exciting flavours, unconventional ingredients, and a touch of culinary artistry, chefs can truly “dare to be different”. As gourmet burgers continue to trend, it’s evident that the future belongs to those who innovate.
What is a Gourmet Burger?
A gourmet burger is a culinary elevation of the traditional burger, characterised by its premium ingredients, intricate flavour profiles, and preparation. Unlike the classic burger, which typically features a standard beef patty, lettuce, tomato, and cheese, a gourmet burger ventures into the realm of culinary artistry. It often incorporates high-quality meats such as Wagyu or dry-aged beef, artisanal cheeses like Brie or Gouda, and unique toppings ranging from truffle aioli to caramelized onions or even exotic ingredients like foie gras. The buns, too, are chosen with care, with options like brioche or sourdough replacing the standard sesame seed bun. Every element of a gourmet burger is curated to ensure a harmonious blend of flavours and textures, making each bite a gourmet experience.
Every high street now boasts burger restaurants, often referred to as ‘burger bars’, that serve more than just the classic burger. These establishments are a testament to the evolving foodservice industry, where customers are no longer satisfied with a mere slice of tomato, gherkin, and shredded lettuce. They crave creative burgers that stand out.
The Rise of the Gourmet Burger Trend
The surge in the popularity of gourmet burgers can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, there’s a growing global trend towards food connoisseurship. As consumers become more discerning and adventurous in their culinary choices, there’s a demand for elevated dining experiences even in traditionally casual settings. Gourmet burgers cater to this desire, offering a fine dining experience in a relaxed, accessible format. Additionally, the rise of food-centric media, from cooking shows to food blogs and social media influencers, has spotlighted the art of burger-making, inspiring chefs and restaurateurs to innovate and experiment. The result is a market where the burger is no longer just a quick meal option but a canvas for culinary creativity, making gourmet burgers a trend that resonates with the modern epicurean spirit.
The Art of Crafting the Perfect Burger
With no sign of slowing down, burgers remain a beloved staple on menus around the world. From bold new flavours to different types of patty and bun combos, get ready for an exciting array of innovative offerings coming in 2023.
The cooking process is paramount in burger menus. A char-grilled beef patty captures the essence of the gourmet burger, offering a harmonious blend of beefy richness and BBQ zest. Like all premium meats in foodservice, seasoning the patty and allowing it to rest is essential. Toasting the buns ensures they remain crisp, preventing sogginess.
Cheese: More Than Just a Topping
Cheese has always been a beloved burger topping, but with the gourmet burger trend, the variety and quality of cheese used have become paramount. While classic American cheese remains a favourite, there’s a world of cheeses to explore:
- Blue Cheese: Known for its strong aroma and tangy flavour, blue cheese can add a punch to your burger. It pairs well with sweet toppings like caramelized onions or fig jam.
- Brie: This soft and creamy cheese can add a touch of luxury to your burger. It melts beautifully and pairs well with fruity toppings or even a drizzle of honey.
- Gouda: With its rich and buttery flavour, smoked or aged Gouda can add depth to your burger. It’s especially delicious with bacon or BBQ sauces.
- Swiss Cheese: Its nutty and slightly sweet flavour makes Swiss cheese a versatile choice. It has a great melting quality, making it a gooey delight in every bite.
The Right Bun Makes All the Difference
The bun is not just a vessel to hold the patty and toppings; it’s an integral part of the burger experience. Here’s what to consider when selecting the perfect bun:
- Texture: A good burger bun should be soft yet sturdy. It needs to hold all the ingredients without falling apart. Brioche buns, with their slight sweetness and buttery texture, have become a popular choice.
- Flavour: The bun should complement the flavours of the burger. For instance, a potato roll can add a subtle sweetness, enhancing the overall taste.
- Size: The bun should be proportional to the patty. It shouldn’t overshadow the meat but should be substantial enough to hold everything together.
- Toasting: Toasting the buns not only adds a crispy texture but also prevents them from getting soggy from the sauces and juices.
Daring to be Different with Toppings
Diversity in toppings is where burger restaurants can truly embrace the ‘dare to be different’ mantra. Drawing inspiration from global cuisines can add a unique twist to burger menus:
- The Indian: Sweet potatoes Bhaji, pickled cucumber, and mango chutney.
- The Spanish: Crispy chorizo, melting manchego cheese, Padron peppers, and Romesco mayo.
- The Mexican: Crisp tortilla, Pico salsa, jalapenos, sour cream, and guacamole.
- The French: Blue cheese, garlic mayo, and crispy onion rings.
- The American: BBQ pulled pork, shack sauce, and jack cheese.
The beauty of these creative burgers is their adaptability. For instance, a plant-based patty can replace the beef patty, and jack cheese can be an alternative to other cheeses. The BBQ pulled pork can be swapped for BBQ Jackfruit, allowing burger bars to cater to diverse palates without overhauling their burger menus.
Innovations in the Burger World
To further innovate, burger restaurants can introduce the ‘Roast Dinner’ Burger. This creative burger incorporates roast beef slices, uses a Yorkshire pudding as a lid, horseradish mayo, and is served with roast potatoes and gravy. Such innovations are redefining the boundaries of the burger market, making every visit to a burger bar a gourmet experience.
For those interested in exploring some of the trendsetters in the burger world, check out Babe’s Meat & Counter in Miami, which changes its patty blend weekly, or Danny’s Burgers in Bristol, known for its stacked offerings.
In the world of gourmet burgers, even the smallest details matter. From the type of cheese to the choice of bun, every element plays a role in creating that perfect bite. Browse our companion products: