Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flip Opens a New Buckhead Location

Top Chef alum Richard Blais
The burger wars are in full effect. There have never been a shortage of good burgers in town. The Vortex has long served great ones. And Holeman & Finch can hardly be called a newby, but I'd argue the real burger wars began when Top Chef fave Richard Blais opened Flip way back in '08. This gourmet burger joint wowed me way back then, but I must admit I haven't visited much since. Since then, Yeah Burger, Farm Burger and many a meat-focused competitor has opened, but Blais' truly haute burgers still remain distinctive.

The new Buckhead Flip location

That's why I was so excited to get a preview of the new Flip Buckhead yesterday. It's open for business as of today, in the old Blockbuster location in the Tuxedo Festival Shopping Center in Buckhead. Turns out that each location - the original, the new Buckhead spot, Birmingham and the soon to open DC will have slightly different menus, inspired by the executive chef's own inspirations as well as locally available meat and produce. Little did I realize, but much of Flip's menu is locally sourced, but they don't tout it since they believe that's just how food should be. I wholeheartedly agree, so it's nice not to be hit over the head with a farm-to-table message.

Scrumptious fries and Potato Skins with Cheese Wizard and Bacon Marmalade
Blais himself was out in full force for the media lunch I attended, complete with a rather epic hairdo described as being his riding in a convertible look. The ratio of food to tablespace was a bit lopsided, so this was a crowded, crazy, gluttonous feast. Honestly, the food came so fast and furious that I was not always entirely sure what I was eating. And I dearly hope that none of my fellow bloggers has a cold because there was more germ sharing than I typically like to do with strangers - lots of hands on burgers as they were split up among attendees or shared milkshakes.

That said, I do love a good food orgy, especially when the food is as interesting and tasty as Flip's, so who am I to complain?  Blais describes the food as fine dining between buns and said he tries to create burgers that if reformatted into a non-burger form would be considered high end cuisine.

We sampled a smorgasbrod of burgers, apps, sides and shakes including new items such as carnitas burgers, venison burgers, potato skins with cheese wizard and bacon marmalade, lentil and plantain salads, and nut 'n honey milkshakes. I just left out quite a few dishes, so you can imagine the spread! As I'd expect, the burgers are quite good. Venison was  bit gamier than I'd prefer in a burger, but the belly melt, rBQ and carnitas were all interesting twists on the backyard favorites.

Flip's new Venison Burger

To me, though, it's the sides and shakes that really stand out. Maybe it's just that there are so many great burgers out there now, but for me a great fry or shake to makes a good meal a great one. The fries are crispy but light served with an addictive smoked mayo. The fried pickles and onion rings are neither dense or fall apart, and the sauces served with them - a beer hone mustard and buttermilk sriancha, respectively - made it hard for me to stop, despite being stuffed to the gills. The potato skins served with a Blais take on cheeze whiz were particularly compelling, although I wish there were more cheese and bacon marmalade to go around!

I would have indulged even more in the three delicious milkshakes at my table if I weren't concerned with the social quandary of how to effectively share a shake with a virtual stranger. Jonathan from citysearch seems like a lovely fellow, but I wasn't sure I was ready to swap spit with him! That said, what little I had of the nutella + burnt marshmallow was delectable in the classic thick chocolatey shake kind of way and the thai chai had a fruitier, almost creamsicle quality. Yum!

Cheerio inspired Nut 'n Honey milkshake
The new space has more distinct dining and bar areas but maintains the same funky upscale vibe as the original location. Creative molecular gastronomy style cocktails make this a perfect after-work or date spot. It was mid-day on Monday, so I didn't indulge, but a martini served with the vodka frozen and then broken up was a wonder to see, and another cocktail described as having orange juice that literally explodes in your mouth sounded fascinating.

Surveying the damage. This is after a bunch of plates were cleared!
Blais shared that he's also working on a non-burger concept for my 'hood, Virginia Highlands. With Yeah Burger opening in mere days (Nov. 4), I'm glad to hear it's not another burger joint. Pizza perhaps? Those wars have barely quieted down, and Everybody's is shutting down, so who knows?! Blais also shared a fact I've never heard - they're the only restaurant in Atlanta legally using the sous vide cooking method so popular on Top Chef.

All in all, if you haven't been to Flip in a while or never checked it out in the first place, it's definitely worth a visit. Creative, sexy and totally satisfying, it's a worthy entrant into the burger wars.

Flip Buckhead
3655 Roswell Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30342

FLIP Burger Boutique Buckhead on Urbanspoon

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