Well Atlanta, are you looking for another burger joint? [Insert Rhetorical Answer], because it turns out the heavens have opened and one Shaun Doty has stepped down with his excitement imploring Yeah! Burger. Planted firmly on the Westside in the bursting at the seems White Provision Development, Yeah Burger is hoping to capitalize on that incongruous relationship that is our lust for a burger amidst the rage for ultra organic, ethically produced, plastic wrapped grub.
If Rodeo Drive’s culinary alternative existed in Atlanta, its being would probably hit smack dab at the intersection of 14th street and Howell Mill. Amongst the shi shi of the Star Provisions empire, the buzzed about Miller Union, the gentrified tacos of TdS, and the morphed West Egg, this hood can keep table hoppers busy for some time. Might as well get on it myself.
Open inside of 7-days, I recently took advantage of the nice arm candy, courtesy one Georgia Devine, and some typically steamy Atlanta weather to sit porch side and engage in America’s messiest past time: burger chomping (with a hot dog thrown in for good measure).
Joined by Erik Maier (who appears to handle the day to day stuff), Doty has put together an industrial fresh space in the free-standing building that used to house the West Egg. While little about the arena evokes the conceptual identities of burgers past, the space puts out a friendly sheik vibe. There’s plenty of white and YB kicks the subway tile to the max against an open air kitchen (complete with the now passé burger bar). Besides that, there’s some light wood and plenty of long windows that take care of the high ceilings. For the kiddies, there is a cute logo, some buttons, and a fun little mural. All in, it’s a deceptively smaller space (maybe 50 seats) with a good sized patio (maybe 40 seats) and it all works.
Corralled by a demonstrative wood wall, we stood in line and took a gander at the sheet menu. As Georgia keenly pointed out, there’s no overhead board – so you might want to hold on to your paper until show time.
Here, at menu time, the serenity of the experience started to chip away. The page, while well organized, presents an onslaught of selections. At other establishments, I’ve taken the time to calculate just how many combinations there are … in this instance, I’ll just say there are more combinations than there are days in your life. It comes down to this … you get a protein (beef, bison, turkey, chicken, veggie) + a “wrapper” (Southern white, wheat, gluten-free, lettuce). While I wonder what Northern white tastes like, it’s proof that Atkins isn’t dead and that Celiac’s are people too.
But I digress, that basic setup will run you somewhere around $7.00 … give or take for the protein you go with. Add to that some cheese ($1), your basic fixings (free), or something more exciting (bacon, egg … etc), and you’ll probably end up with a burger for $10-$12. Oh yeah, there are sides (rings/fries/etc) … and some specialty sauces (all at a charge) … and all beef hot dog. Got that? Now flip it over for a dizzying array of beverage choices. Included with the specialty cocktails, wine, and beer are variations on the milkshake. Most notably is the list of Concretes … which SHOULD BE frozen custard concoctions that inspired the DQ Blizzard. *see footnote* All this stuff comes from grass-feed, organic, and/or some other eco-conscious source, so that should make you feel good… or at least less guilty. Quick note: though they have marketing material touting themselves as the 1st organic burger joint in Atl .. that title goes to Farm Burger.
After handing over some $50 for 1 cocktail, 1 beer, 3 burgers, 1 hot dog, and a side … we made for the patio and awaited our food runner. On the way there, we spotted the branded soda dispenser (full of non-organic goods) and the condiments section. As if to puupuu their own ideology, this sucker was pulled straight from Wendy’s, complete with those little packets environmentalists despise. Still, the rest of the stuff is good … so keep things in perspective.
Not too long after, our drinks showed up … followed soon by an onslaught of food served in wax paper atop another overused item: the tin tray. The meat is all cooked medium-well (by order of the menu), but I’ve already heard of rampant temperature issues. The meat patties are so thin it really doesn’t matter, after the pressing they get … the good stuff is gone. Non-meat options rely on thicker slabs.
I wanted to have something really inspiring to say, but alas the food fizzled out. The ratio of toppings and bread to meat is about 4:1, so the flat (in taste) breads (some of which were dried out) really robbed us of the chance to get excited. Meanwhile, the patties themselves were insipid in flavor, regardless of selection. I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of why … that’s too long for now. Moving along …
The veggies and such all did fine, and the burgers were far from bad. However, nothing about any one of the bites of a Yeah! Burger excited me in a way worthy of the calories the meal provided. For the price range, I’d rather have shelled out an extra buck or two for a Houston’s burger. The hot dog, which was $6, tasted like a slightly better than average traditional beef frank (that’s special request bacon on top). The bun was a disaster (devoid of freshness and taste), and the beefiness was all their. But at six bucks, I’d rather grab myself a chili dog combo at the V or pick up my pennies and take them with me to H+F for that $10 weenie of the gods. Yes, that same one that’s been chatted up many times in the last nine months.
Ms. Georgia, proving that beauty and brains can be had in one package, wisely surmised that while these ingredients easily bested those of mighty Ann, the novelty of the Ghetto Burger makes that decision a no brainer. Still, this meal, while more tame in flavor, was better executed than anything I’ve ever had at that other place up the street.
Perhaps the best part of the meal were the rings. Though covered in a dense batter, the rings are judiciously coated and come out thin and onion rich against a demonstrative batter. The dance between the batter and the rings is noticeably defiant yet totally harmonious.
Yeah! Burger spent a lot of time polishing the edges, perhaps at the sacrifice of attention to true detail. You kinda start to feel a little nickel and dimed by the setup, and frustrated by the oversights. Something about the burger on the whole is in transition. As hamburger’s today are often just called burgers, as they never were very hammy, perhaps the linguistic evolution is the result of an infusion of options between two buns. Is this place headed for the front page of A Hamburger Today? Maybe … but it won’t be on the basis of anything the Hamburglar will need. If you’re nearby, give it a whirl and see how things start to shape up.
** Foot Note: My understanding is that YB’s Concrete’s are made with soft serve ice cream. A real Concrete is custard based frozen drink. These drinks inspired the DQ Blizzard, which is made from soft serve. If that’s the case, then you aren’t getting a Concrete at Yeah! Burger. Where’s the Kool-Aid guy when you need him?