In the recent weeks, I’ve started hearing a lot about a hamburger restaurant called Burger Up located in 12th Avenue South area of Nashville. Words like “upscale” and “fancy” usually accompanied the description I heard from others. To most, that phrase might seem strange when describing a hamburger restaurant but not to me… late last fall I got the opportunity to dine at one of the true gourmet burger joints called Flip Burger Boutique. Since Flip Burger Boutique was now my new benchmark for upscale burgers, I was intrigue on how Burger Up would stack up to the competition.
The story about Burger Up is unique mainly because the story (which is printed on both the menu and the website) boasts how nearly every aspect of the restaurant is local. The meat that makes up the burgers is from a local farm, as well as much of the other ingredients including cheeses, vegetables, chicken, and even flowers on the tables come from somewhere in Tennessee. Even the interior design of the wooden walls right down to the handmade tables is made from the Miranda Whitcomb Pontes’ (the proprietor) grandfather’s farm. The interior really is one of a kind and has a lot of character. It’s nice to see so much effort put into the atmosphere itself (even the bathrooms are neat) and while I admired everything about Burger Up, the true test would be to the food itself and I was really excited to test it out.
My coworkers and I arrived roughly 20 minutes before noon, anticipating a bad lunch crowd on a Friday. When we got there though, it wasn’t that busy. While we were waiting at our table, our waiter came over to our table to get our drink orders while we looked over the menu. To tide us over in the meantime, we were delivered 2 carafes full of cold water. Moments later, as our drinks were delivered and we were given the opportunity to order from the menu. When it was my turn to order, I asked our waiter what he would recommend between two burgers that caught my eye: the Mushroom Swiss ($10) or the Black & Blue ($10). He preferred the Black & Blue and under his guidance, I selected that with the addition of slices of Tennessee’s own Benton’s Bacon for $2 and an upgrade from the house fries to the truffle fries for an additional $1. When asked for my preference on temperature, I said medium rare. As he was taking our menus, I was explaining to my fellow coworker Jonathan about how I couldn’t wait to get our food. He knew about my past experience with Flip Burger Boutique and he himself was always down to try a new burger joint. Little did we know we would be somewhat disappointed.
After a modest wait, our table received its food. Each burger order came with fries and a pickle spear. In regards with the appearance of the food, I was pleased with the burger but not so much the fries. The burger was excellently crafted; a nice blackened & seasoned patty sat on top a pile of arugula with bleu cheese, strips of bacon, and rings of red onion topping it off. The fries on the other hand, were thick-cut with the skin left on them, but they a dark brown hue and borderline burnt from overcooking. When I looked at Jonathan’s plate (who also ordered the truffle fries), I noticed his were golden in color (about the same color as the bun) with a sprinkling of sea salt, shredded cheese, and parsley flakes and a plastic ramekin of aioli. I immediately knew something was amiss and I didn’t get to flag down our waiter until 5 minutes afterwards. I informed him of the error and it didn’t take him long to retrieve my corrected order of truffle fries… but he forgot the aioli.
If you read my post about Midtown Cafe, you’ll know that truffle oil is not actually made of truffles, but rather olive or grapeseed oil mixed with a synthetic compound that tastes similar to truffles. It’s really hard to pinpoint but my taste buds enjoyed the truffle fries extremely more than that of the slightly burnt steak fries. Even after cooling, the truffle fries had a nice, savory flavor whereas the regular fries just tasted like cooked potatoes. Although I didn’t get the side of aioli that I was supposed to, I settled for Burger Up‘s tableside bottle of house ketchup. Unlike regular ketchup (of the Heinz or Hunt’s variety), Burger Up‘s ketchup has the consistency and tastes like a sweetened spaghetti sauce.
When it came time to try the burger, I was taken aback once more. After my initial bite of the burger, I looked down to not see a juicy medium-rare burger, but a borderline medium-well to well-done burger that was dry. Even Jonathan’s burger, who ordered his medium-well, got a well done burger. If you’re going to ask how I want a burger cooked and then us burgers that are overcooked, why even bother with asking? Despite the overcooked meat that we received, at least the burger’s taste was salvaged by the high quality ingredients that accompanied it. With each bite, I encountered taste ranges from bitter and spicy to sharp and salty. The arugula and onions were very fresh and the nice clump of bleu cheese was extra pungent. Looking under the lid of the bun showed a nice layer of blackened seasoning.
Last but not least, I have to comment on the service. The service was horrendous. During our entire stay of 50 minutes, not a single person at our table had their soft drinks refilled. I understand there is a carafe of water on the table, but we specifically ordered soft drinks. I can actually count how many times our waiter came to our table: the first was to take our drink order, the second to take our food order, and the 3rd to give us our check. I don’t count the time I had to flag him down (while he was at another table) to tell him of the mishap with my fries. Not once did he come to check up on us after we got our food.
I commend Miranda for putting so much effort into the restaurant and it definitely shows with the overall atmosphere. Overall, I like Burger Up and I can definitely tell that the foundation of the food is good, but culinary mistakes such as overcooked meat and fries has no excuse. However I wonder what she would have thought if I told her about the bad service I received… as well as the incorrectly cooked burger and wrong fries. While I don’t doubt that Burger Up is marketed to be an upscale burger joint, the day that me and my coworkers visited, it was hardly upscale at all.
2901 12th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37204
Bill Total: About $15 per person