Chef Michael Scelfo’s “secret burger” set off a social-media frenzy when he ran the kitchen at Russell House Tavern in Cambridge, Mass. He’d tease diners on Twitter or Facebook with hints about the day’s off-menu burger until they just had to have it. Last year he opened his own restaurant across town, Alden & Harlow, and the “secret burger” went with him.
Scelfo prepares maybe three dozen of the burgers daily and hangs on to some so staff from other restaurants might get one on Alden & Harlow’s late-night menu when their shifts end. It’s listed on the menu as “Our 8-oz. House Creekstone Grind, Your Faith, House made Roll. $14. (limited availability).”
Alden & Harlow is included among 50 finalists this week for Bon Appetit magazine’s “America’s Best New Restaurants of 2014” honor. It also is one of just eight of these 50 restaurants to have the courage to create a burger for their menus. Menuing roasted garlic chicken is easy. Creating a great burger worthy of a great menu is difficult. Eight did it, including a Turkish restaurant. In addition to Alden & Harlow, they are:
Oak Grilled Double Cheese Burger: Harissa aïoli, Gruyère cheese, tater tots; add fried egg, fried pickle, avocado or tender belly bacon for $1 each ($13; lunch)
CBD Provisions, Dallas
TX Grass Fed Beef Burger: Texas Cheddar, pickles, potato bun (both lunch & dinner)
Cured, San Antonio
Cabrito (goat meat) Sliders: Local bread, Chayote pickles, local sprout ($8)
Edmund’s Oast, Charleston, S.C.
Edmund’s Bacon Egg & Cheeseburger: Ttraditional toppings, smoked salt & pepper brioche bun, house fries ($16)
Eggslut at Grand Central Market, Los Angeles
Eggslut Cheeseburger: Ground American Wagyu beef, caramelized onions, bread and butter pickles, melty Cheddar cheese, and Dijonnaise, topped with an over-medium egg in a warm Portuguese bun (single $8 / double $11; available after 11:30 a.m.)
Palace Diner, Biddeford, Maine
Cheeseburger and Fries ($9; lunch)
Grass-Fed Burger with griddled onion and fries ($14; dinner)
Sarma, Somerville, Mass.
Lamb Köfte Sliders with tomato brown butter, pickles ($10)