The story of Tony Maws' ultra-popular burger at Craigie on Main has been told again and again, and its popularity hasn't decreased in recent years, still managing to sell out minutes after the restaurant opens its doors on any given evening. So what was Maws to do when he opened his second restaurant, The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, a more casual sort of place that, in some ways, is even more of a fit for a burger?
"That conversation was a pretty short one," he says, referring to the question of whether the Craigie burger would appear at Kirkland. "We felt pretty strongly that the Craigie on Main hamburger was the Craigie on Main hamburger."
Instead, Kirkland got its own new, different burger. "We came up with the grind for Kirkland in its own way," he says. "It's a different aesthetic, it's a different fry, it's a different side, it's a different pickle, it's a different condiment, it's a different bun. It's a different burger." And it has quickly achieved its own popularity as well, snapping up Boston Magazine's 2014 Best Burger title, among other accolades.
The Kirkland Tap & Trotter burger comes topped with kimchi Russian dressing, Emmentaler cheese, grilled Spanish onions, and Boston Bibb lettuce, and it's served on a poppyseed brioche bun with a side of fries.
Above, sous chef Craig Hastings demonstrates parts of the process, starting with the grind. The grass-fed beef is bought from Savenor's across the street. Hastings goes through a batch of 20 pounds, which includes about 15 pounds of "super, super sexy" chuck, three pounds of fat, and a couple pounds of "amazing" suet. This will come out to about 40 burgers.
Hastings forms the patties gently — no smashing. After a seasoning of salt and pepper, the patties are ready to go into the CVap, spending 30 minutes to an hour in there at 48 degrees Celsius. This process allows the meat to retain its moisture. Next, the burgers finish cooking (complete with a thin slice of Emmentaler cheese) on a buttered plancha. The buns also gets buttered and toasted on the plancha.
Once the burger is cooked, it's time for the rest of the toppings. There are the Spanish onions — seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil before grilling and then steeped in a mixture of house chili cider vinegar and Worcestershire — and the lettuce.
Meanwhile, the fries are a two-day process involving blanching, freezing, and frying. In the end, they're seasoned with sea salt, kibbeh spice, and chives.