Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lick Yourself Clean

If you told me I could take one food item with me to my grave, a juicy, medium-rare beef burger topped with blue cheese would be my first or second choice. The Wife, Ph.D., knows by now that if I see one on the menu (specially if we're stateside, a gourmand's burger heaven), I will order it, devour it and then suck my fingers clean. Unfortunately, The Rock has not been very kind to me when pertaining to a fatty ground chuck patty stuffed between a sliced buttery bun. The meat is generally overcooked—one's rarely asked one's cooking predilection—and loaded with unnecessary spices and herbs. What shines in an excellent burger are the quality of the beef and the toppings selected, and this is forgotten to many local chefs.

Cue Artisans Burgerbar, an eatery that recently opened in Nicosia and caters to The Rock's burger fiends. I prefer my burger joints on the dive rustic side, so I was taken aback when I sauntered in and felt I had entered a typical Nicosia cafe: sleek lines, matching ochre furniture and sparse decor except for several rows of potted plants hanging on a wall above the main dining area and a blackboard used to write down the specials. While chic, it did not immediately inspire me to dive headfirst into a greasy burger. Irrespective of ambiance, though, what needs to be highlighted is Artisans' generous and tasty patty. It's made with 100% Angus Beef (20% fat!) flown in from the U.S. and includes none of those unnecessary ingredients that muddle the meat's flavor. Likewise, it's cooked medium unless you request otherwise. I must admit it's the most classic and well-executed burger I have come across on the island.

Of course, toppings, types of bread—white bun, wholewheat or ciabatta—and side dishes vary and cater to all tastes. First couple of times, I had the whole grain mustard sauce, which I found too overwhelming for the meat, and a well-balanced burger with pancetta, gruyere cheese and barbecue sauce. Then, after receiving multiple requests for a blue cheese burger from those in the know-how, Artisans added one as a special and I was on it like white on rice before it disappeared from the menu. The crumbled blue cheese and some chopped dried figs perfectly complemented the thick patty and had me salivating throughout my meal. Even though the 2008 Domaine Vlassides Cabernet Sauvignon worked well with the blue cheese burger, I so wished I had a bottle of Colorado's Great Divide 17th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA (available at Brewfellas) to really round out the experience. This desire only leads me to believe that Artisans should expand its rather limited beer selection since there are fewer things in life that are more rewarding than matching a cold one with a well-made burger.

On a side note, what's up with using cutlery to chow down on a burger? It's a glorified sandwich, people. It ain't rib-eye, it ain't lasagna. Pull up your sleeves. Don't be scared of the juices running down your hands. They will not scar you for life. They will not seep into your pores and make you fat. They are not the mysterious source of vitiligo. The blood/ketchup/mustard/mayonnaise/barbecue-blend might stink up your skin a bit but it's rained plenty this year on The Rock. Water shortages are not a valid excuse for bludgeoning your burger with a fork and knife. Make sweet love to it for God's sake, and later, like the feral cats and me, lick yourself clean.

Whine On The Rocks Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Sparkling Spatulas

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good burger there; no cutlery for me!

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