This is the Place
Divorced Eggs, Great Idea — No Lawyer Required — Hog Burger, Hog Burger, Send Me a Hog Burger Right Over
It was a Saturday afternoon after one of my kid's soccer
games, and we had some time to kill before the next one. So we went
down to Britton's. I hadn't been there in a while, since I don't teach at
the Sandy Campus of Salt Lake
It's pretty easy to find, near the road on the 7th East side of Union Square. There is plenty of parking, and I have never seen the place less than half-full. This was no exception.
The interior is filled with booths and tables, with a bar in the back where they have the register, and a sort of butler's pantry to one side where the wait staff takes care of drink orders and having the tables set for the next customer. Overhead are some wooden arbor-like hangings that, when the place was a Chinese restaurant years ago, had been hung with paper lanterns. But they just give a nice little touch to the unpretentious diner.
They have a couple white boards asking you to wait to be
seated and their list of specials. The thing is, I have never ordered a
special. Their menu is so expansive, I haven't even come close to sampling
even one item from each
We were seated quickly in a sort of circular corner booth, our drink order was taken by the woman who seated us, and we received our menus (including a couple kids menus). The booths are starting to show a little wear and might benefit from just a good, deep scrubbing. Might take some of the years off them.
Britton's serves breakfast all day, and that's my favorite meal of the day, so I don't often look at all five pages of the menu. This visit, I forced myself to look a little deeper, though I still didn't make it past the breakfast pages. I decided on the Divorced Eggs. The menu describes it as two eggs, separated by hash browns, one on Hollandaise, one on country gravy, and a choice of ham, bacon or sausage, and toast or pancake.
When the waiter came to take out order (yes, not the same person who seated us, although she was waiting tables, also), I asked about the Divorced Eggs, and he grinned, pretty much the same look I have on my face when I first saw it on the menu. He said it was good, that the Hollandaise is really good, and so it the gravy. He said the hash browns are cooked pretty well. I asked about the ham and bacon, and he said that he always goes with the bacon, because the ham isn't bone in. I thought, "Cool. He's speaking my language." So I went with that, chose the pancake over the toast and asked for the eggs to be scrambled. If you think about it, if they have the courage to call a dish "Divorced Eggs," you have to have the courage to order it. Particularly if the shoe fits.
Service was fairly quick but, while waiting, I looked around at the people patronizing the place, and saw that every table had families, come to get decent food for not too much money on a Saturday. I also noticed that the kids menus came with a pair of round, wooden blocks carved and painted to look like a pair of cheese burgers, with holes in the tops for crayons to poke out the top. That was fun, and all my kids made comments about them, including my teenagers.
When the food arrived, it was on plain, white plates, and my two plates were covered.
First words out of my mouth: "Wow. That's a lot of food!"
The plates were like you would find in an average home, which is nothing less than I would expect from a place like Britton's. My plate looked pretty much how I expected it to, based on what was in the menu. A long portion of grilled hash browns down the center, a scrambled egg on each side, resting on a pool of sauce about the diameter of an apple. My second plate had a single pancake that covered nearly its entire surface. As you know, one of my qualifiers for a good restaurant is quantity, and this certainly delivered.
First words out of my mouth after first bite: "Man! That's good Hollandaise sauce!"
I started on the Hollandaise sauce because, to be honest, I've had some very bad Hollandaise before, so I was biting the bullet. But that proved totally unnecessary. The flavor was very bright and light, and complemented the eggs very well. The gravy was very good, also, not a sausage gravy, but I think it was a bacon gravy. Very rich and savory and excellent. The bacon had a very nice, smoke flavor, cooked well, and would only have been improved upon had it been thick sliced. When coupled with the other items, the hash browns were fine, they had a nice crust on them, but they suffered from what too many places do, where the hash browns are a throwaway them, unlike other places, where they are served practically straight from the bag. And the pancake was good, as well.
Last words out of my mouth when leaving: "Great breakfast. As always."
Another Saturday afternoon and I decided that, on the sign outside, Britton's lists Burgers specifically, so I would break from the norm and go beyond the breakfast pages of their expansive menu. The burger selection is actually pretty impressive, with a lot of different possibilities, like a Garlic Burger, Pastrami Burger (one of my faves), a Buffalo Burger (bison, not New York), a Bleu Cheese Burger, a Mushroom Swiss Burger and even a Veggie Burger. (You couldn't pay me to eat one of the last, but it's nice to have it for people who are into that sort of thing.) But there are two burgers that really got my attention. One was called the Dirty Love Burger. Like the Divorced Eggs, that almost requires that you order it. It's heavily peppered (the dirt) and comes with Swiss and bacon over an easy egg (the love). The other burger that was screaming out to me, though, was called the Hog Burger. The burger is put between two grilled-cheese sandwiches, one with bacon, one with tomatoes, and grilled onions.
There has been a lot of hoopla lately about burgers and sandwiches two grilled-cheese sandwiches. On "The Great Food Truck Race" that just concluded its first season on Food Network, there were two trucks with variations on this them, Austin Daily Press, who served a sandwich this way, and Grill 'Em All, with a burger served that way. So I went with the Hog Burger. With a Salad. I know, I know, don't report me, I guarantee I didn't lose my Man Card over it. Not when ordered with the Hog Burger, that is.
Service was pretty quick, as usual.
First words out of my mouth: "Oh, baby. That's a burger!"
It's about four inches thick, held together with a long tooth pick. The woman serving me asked if I wanted mayo and mustard (ketchup was already on the table), and I told her I would. Then I took out the tooth pick so I could administer the condiments, and was taken aback by the burger patty. It wasn't like you see at most places. It hadn't been formed into a tight patty, formed perfectly, with an edge that, when grilled, can form an edge that would withstand a fall from a first-floor window. This was formed very loosely, vaguely round, but I could tell just by looking at it that the extra care given it would make it very tender and possibly even allow some of the natural flavor from the rendered fat to stay with it in some of those little openings in its surface, like little hiding places for flavor love.
First words out of my mouth after first bite: "Oh, man. That's amazing."
There's a feeling I get when I have a really good cheese burger, one that has extra cheese, not just the mandatory single slice. The melty goodness coats my mouth and lovingly applies itself in perfect proportions to the beef. The Hog Burger is like that … but more. It's like the perfect cheese burger, but with bacon, and the amazing magic that happens when buttery bread is grilled perfectly.
But I hadn't gotten any onions on that bite. So I went in again, and my speeding Ferrari of a burger slammed on the brakes, nearly throwing me from the car. Good thing I was wearing a seat belt.
The onions were grilled, yes, I could see the char marks. But they were undercooked. Grilled onions should be transparent, lightly brown in color, and the grilling makes them sweet. These were not even al dente and, worse, they were very potent, clubbing me with the sulfurous flavor that isn't bad in moderation, but these were pretty thick slices. Unfortunately, I ended up pulling most of them out, leaving only a few, because it was just too overpowering. Then I could return to my burger-induced bliss.
The other half, with the tomatoes, was very good, also. The bacon side was awesome. The bacon was thicker than I had been served for breakfast. (So why not serve it with breakfast?) But the tomatoes in the grilled cheese were sweetened by the cooking, taking my to yet another place on the journey.
And that doesn't even mention the salad. It was not just iceberg. It was a mix of greens, with fresh mushrooms, finely grated cheddar cheese and shoe-string slices of carrot. The blue cheese dressing was very thick, with big chunks of bleu cheese, and was really excellent. I was almost as impressed with it as I was the burger. I did not expect a place that serves so much classic diner fare to put this much effort, let alone attention, into a side salad.
When finished, I understood the attention being paid to the sandwich-burger between two grilled cheese. I understood it, and I am a big fan. Just wish the onions had been grilled correctly, and maybe seasoned with season salt. That would have really blown the top off the place.
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noun. Slang. A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.