Flip


(Atlanta, GA) — Ever since watching Richard Blais kick ass on Top Chef All-Stars, we’ve yearned to dine at one of his Flip Burger Boutique locations, of which there are three: Buckhead, Midtown Atlanta, and Birmingham. Juliet has had the opportunity to work with Chef Blais and to eat at his restaurant before, but when we decided to hit Atlanta for Thanksgiving, Flip made the list. With Jack and Lori in tow, we caught the complimentary hotel shuttle to lunch on a sunny, unseasonably warm November day...

He Fed:

From afar, Flip doesn’t look like much. It’s a squat, square building in a strip mall. It’s got an industrial, functional vibe that is a little forbidding. I’m not even sure it’s open, though Google Maps assures me it is. I get to the front door first and confirm there is movement and music inside, so I give the thumbs up to Juliet and the in-laws. Looks like lunch is a go.

Inside, pristine white walls and ceiling play it cool around aluminum shine and red napkins. There are inset televisions against one side of the room, just past the bar, all playing the same video which is slightly out-of-sync with the hip/alt music emanating from the sound system. We are seated at a four-top in the middle of what I mistake to be trestle tables, but is instead a cleverly arranged series of separate tables. The chairs are sturdy but light molded plastic and aluminum. There are topsy-turvy (aka “flip”) booths along the walls, but I kind of like the open air tables.

Flip does burgers and sides and milkshakes. Sure, there are a couple salad offerings, but they are bones thrown to vegetarians who may have been dragged along for the ride by their meat-loving buddies. Not only are there over a dozen different creative burger offerings, there are also seasonal ones. And sides! Boy, oh boy...there are sides aplenty. Just running my finger down the length of the menu, I am giddy like a schoolgirl.

Although I flirt with ordering the steak tartare burger, I ultimately select “boutique burger 3”—a November seasonal, Osso Bucco. It is veal breast, braised ketchup, gremolata mayo, and crispy shallots for $12. Our handsome, friendly, and very informed waiter asks if I’d like the burger as Chef recommends or...? Of course I would! Anything good enough for Blais is all right by me.

The burger arrives looking like a tangle of calamari got into a fight in the deep fryer. A white bun, deceptively simple, acts as the perfect conveyance for the thick meat patty. I find the veal burger tasty but a tad lean. Thankfully, there are spicy shreds of veal in a thick ketchup, crunchy fried shallot slices, and some cilantro leaves to lighten the heavy components. I barely stop for breath as I mow it down.

Juliet insists on getting some deep fried sides as well, but my sights are firmly set on a milkshake for dessert. Regardless, I try a couple of the fries (pretty solid, though nothing spectacular...until they are dipped in the Coca Cola ketchup); onion rings are thin and crunchy though, again, nothing to write home about; the deep fried pickles, however, are amazing, and I eat more than I should.

Finally, it’s dessert time. After much deliberation, I decide against the foie gras shake and instead order the Cap’n Crunch liquid nitrogen milkshake, topped with peanut butter foam. “Good choice,” says our waiter. “That’s my favorite.” When it comes, I know I’ve chosen wisely. I can barely wait until the liquid nitrogen stops smoking before digging in. Sweet, crunchy, roof-of-mouth-ripping cereal bits on top of luxurious peanut butter whip. Sugar coma, here I come.

After we finish, we are having such a good time it’s too hard to leave. So we head out into the 70 degree sunny day and soak it up on Flip’s deck, cold beers in hand. Great burgers, fantastic milkshakes, and just a fun place to be. I know we’ll be back again.
She Fed:

I met Chef Richard Blaise at the Aspen Classic Food & Wine Show in 2009 and was impressed with his unwavering attention to detail and friendly, fun manner. Both Jeremy and I watched Top Chef Masters this year and were beyond thrilled when Chef Blaise won. I've enjoyed many meals at Flip and after three years of telling Jeremy what a great experience it is, I am excited to share this with him.

Just like the original Flip in Midtown, the new Buckhead location is filled with white leather booths and long communal tables. Above each booth is an upside down booth...flipped, get it? Several large flat screens—set into chunky embellished picture frames—play rock videos. The servers are undoubtedly the most beautiful people I've seen outside of Manhattan and LA. The whole vibe is incredibly hip and sexy without being intimidating or off-putting. This afternoon's patrons include young 20-somethings, middle-aged couples, and large families with toddlers and grandparents. (Though I've been to Flip for dinner and the lights were dimmer, the music louder and the median age significantly younger.)

Flip specializes in burgers but these are no ordinary burgers. In addition to 5.5 ounce patties made from hangar steak, brisket, and short rib, there are seasonal "boutique burgers" as well as lamb, shrimp, turkey, veggie, chorizo, and other varieties. I've always wanted to try the lamb burger, but instead opt for the "Farmer" burger with grass-fed beef, local lettuces, grilled onions, white cheddar, bread and butter pickles, and Coca-Cola ketchup.

Our foursome debates on what sides we want to share. I remember the fried bread and butter pickles as amazing, so they're at the top of my list. Most places use dills, but Flip is the only place I know of that uses bread and butters. The coating is light and airy, the pickles taste exactly like homemade, and the buttermilk dipping sauce is tangy and sweet with a slight herbal note. It's everything I can do to not gobble up the entire order.

There's also housemade French fries with delicious smoked mayo and vodka-battered onion rings with beer mustard to divert my attention. Seems like using a smoke-infusing gun to create a condiment is a lot of work, but Blais' creativity pays off and I'm inspired to try it at home. Like the pickles, the coating on the onion rings is light and the vodka imparts a slight metallic taste, while the beer mustard seems more like a rich, creamy mayonnaise. The beer and vodka flavors elevate this side to something beyond normal onion rings.

My burger is incredibly tasty and the Coca-Cola ketchup is addictive. I order a side of it for the table to enjoy with the fries and onion rings. Before long, we've somehow managed to finish our burgers and sides. Despite being full, we know we have to order some of Flip's famous "liquid N2 milkshakes." I go for nutella and burnt marshmallow. The ingredients are blended with a shot or two of liquid nitrogen which automatically freezes the contents. My shake arrives smoking from the burnt marshmallows and the liquid nitrogen. Even the milkshakes are sexy here!

I should mention our server is not just handsome, he's really good at his job. Kinda like Flip. Sure it has a sleek vibe and striking presentation, but the food is innovative, fun and incredibly delicious.

FLIP Burger Boutique Buckhead on Urbanspoon

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