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We were definitely “those guys” when we stumbled into Slow Club on Oscar Sunday to grab lunch. Just fifteen minutes before they closed to prep for dinner, we walked in, much to the chagrin of many of the servers… and possibly the kitchen. It was inexcusable on our part but after an hour-long trek on BART it was warranted. There was a lot of research prior to arriving at 2501 Mariposa Street; the short list presented a mix of bay area classics and burgeoning kitchens that took serious time for my one chance at burger perfection. We elected to dine at an untested spot, after assuaging our doubts by reading countless blogs and reviews that twinkled brightly and nearly fawned over their burger.

Inside and seated, our server was more than hospitable, giving us some time as we studied the menu to balance our pre-decided burger with a side and scan the surroundings. The most prominent observation was the fung shui of the place; the kitchen and bar had traded places, seeing the kitchen in animation once you set foot inside and the bar at the back of the house, otherwise the semi-industrial feel of the eatery was nothing too shocking. The menu is where the focus was, loaded with ambitious choices that befit the culinary scene and made choosing the second plate a laborious process. Our trusty accompaniment spoke to me after I spied the Banyuls dressing, piquing my interest when other choices sounded more promising than a salad.

To pair with lunch, I had a glass of Bordeaux while my buddy had expanded his beer knowledge by ordering a glass of Triple Voodoo’s Inception. We sipped casually, waiting about ten to fifteen minutes until the two plates arrived. Open-faced, with one half presenting a proudly charred patty stewing in its own juices and just opposite were the fresh arugula, balsamic onions and tomato. I assembled the sandwich and cut it down its center. One fatal flaw was exposed instantly. They overcooked our burger to medium well (instead of medium rare), showing a slight hint of pink. It was too bad too because the meat was high quality—sourced from Prather Ranch—and dry aged to lock in more flavor. Despite the overcooking, the grind and crusting on the burger were fantastic. Another small hiccup was the healthy smear of sharp Dijon mustard aioli that helped mask the prized meat. The flavors attacked the palate and with all those good ingredients, it was shame to bury them under a zingy mustard spread.

The salad lived up to the billing, an interesting vinaigrette helped spruce up the side dish. Everything was in balance; the components were there for a great burger, the portions were ample and the prices were even reasonable… we happened to run into an inconsistency issue that I am willing to excuse on account of our arriving late to the party. It might be a while until I have a follow-up, but I wouldn’t mind revisiting the Slow Club next time I hit the Bay.

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