After putting together several informal reviews of Flip, Atlanta’s newest culinary darling, I have finally elected to write a full review. I have now had three meals here inside of two-weeks and I have a good idea of how the place runs. While the history of burgers is shrouded in mystery (wiki), there is no doubt that the food has come a long way. Blais’ latest incarnation, though not entirely unique [b+f burger boutique, amongst others], is inspiring and opposite the drove of gastropubs that are all the rage.
Flip is a restaurant with a lot of good things going; however, there are a plethora of inconsistencies and kinks that need to be worked out to prevent this place from chewing itself up in all of the buzz.
I have sampled nearly everything on the menu and found the shakes to be interesting, the sides to be intriguing, and the burgers to be very “Blais” and very inconsistent. Contrary to popular belief, and their own website misinformation, Richard Blais is not the chef. That title goes to Mark Nanna, who worked under Blais at h2s’ Home. That aside, the menu is a complete Blais’ concept, and it shows!
At its core, this is a burger joint. The sides and shakes make a difference, but people go here to try the the Po Boyger, not the tempura rutabaga, though it is tasty. The menu reflects the creative simplicity of the food and the decor. Before you jump out of your seat after reading “simplicity,” hear me out. The menu is focused – and in that respect it is simple. There are seventeen burgers on the menu, if you count the Burger of the Day special, and they sit defiantly opposite the sides, joined in the middle by the shakes. The cute trick here is that you have to flip the menu upside to read it in its entirety. This works great in person, though not so much on the website (more on that later).
The patties are not quite sliders, but not quite full grown either. They are constructed out of everything from mushrooms to shrimp, fit neatly onto the buns, and come topped with a variety of sauces, vegetables, and cheeses. The resulting cost, between $8-11, leaves me a little disappointed in the amount of food v. cost ratio. I usually order two burgers in a sitting. They are pre-set, so while you do not have the option to mix and match your own toppings, it works better as I’m sure people would be intimidated by the number of nuances. Blais and Nanna do a great job with the flavor matching; however, they fail on their ability to execute a consistent experience.
Perhaps the biggest failure is in the cooking temperature. While I tend to be somewhat lackadaisical in my acceptance of the terminology, I do know the difference between medium, medium rare, and medium well. I cannot say the same for Flips’ kitchen. Though the waitstaff will not ask you how you like your burgers (all are supposedly medium), they will generally accommodate requests. I asked for my steak tartar burger to be well done. While the humor in the request was not lost on anyone, I was summarily rejected. Thank goodness! You’re best to disregard cooking temperature and focus on texture and flavor.
My personal favorites are the tartar, the bun mi, and the poy boyger. The tartare on its own is flavorful, though not as adventurous as I expected. It is still an excellent choice as it never touches a flame, and thus does not fall victim to the same inconsistencies as some of the other burgers. The bun mi is an excellent take on the French-Vietnamese staple. The flavors are well balanced and the textures work well together. The poy boyger is one of the more creative items on the menu. It is a shrimp patty, topped with a fried lemon, amongst other things. I think it needs some refinement, but is still delish.
People are very hot on the lamburger. It is not something I really love. I also had a piece of bone during one visit. The Flip burger, the pork belly, and the turf and earth left a good bit to be desired. For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave it at that. All of the burgers are served on a traditional bun. I wish they got more adventurous with that.
I would be remiss if i did not elaborate on the shakes and the sides. While I am not a sweets connoisseur, I really enjoy the shakes. All of them are really delicious, though the burnt marshmallow took the cake with me. I think the krispy kreme tasted a lot like cookies and creme. Sean C. agreed with me when I ate there with him. The sides are really interesting, but not that impressive to me. The aforementioned rutabaga was the only thing I really loved. Everything else failed due to improper cooking and/or being cold on arrival.
As a complete non sequitur, the website is a disaster. Music will blast out of your laptop speakers immediately, and there is no way to turn it off other than to hammer down your mute button – total bummer for those of us that love to use pandora. The whole thing is programmed in flash – not necessarily a bad thing – until you consider that they use it as an excuse to make everything move and flip (what a shock!). Much like the music, you can’t stop the burger wheel from giving you a headache.
They do not make the best burger in town, but Flips’ are the most creative. They have a trend-hip environment here. While that comes across as draconian arrogance in some of the waitstaff, the corporate culture here is very friendly. Mark Nanna needs to do a better job of quality control. If Blais can shed his reputation for a short attention span, his culinary brilliance and ingenuity will keep this place going for a long time. I will check here periodically to see how the restaurant fares after the shiny factor wears off.
Address:1587 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 // 404.352-3547
Website // Menu (pdf)
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