You may not realize it, but we’re at the beginning of an important occasion that occurs every May.
Of course, May is home to a host of happenings of note: Mother’s Day, college and high school graduations and many proms and formal dances. Let’s not forget that May is National Burger Month, too.
Yes, that’s right, for the entire 31 days of May, the lovely or lowly hamburger, depending on your perspective, will be honored. There are many area restaurants that have developed special burger creations to mark the month. I’ll have plenty of details on where you can get these unique ground beef creations, but first, I thought it might be fun to share a little burger lore.
No one is exactly sure when and where the hamburger first made its appearance. Many claims have been staked, but none has been validated.
I’m not taking sides, but how about this one? According to White Castle, presently absent from the Kansas City market, the inventor of the hamburger was a man named Otto Krause. The Wichita-based makers of the square, steamed burgers say Krause invented the burger in 1891 when he cooked up a beef patty in butter and topped it with a fried egg.
These days, hamburgers are most often associated with fast food restaurants, though many restaurants, from fast food to white linen and everything in between, feature a variety of burgers on their menus. And that brings us back to National Burger Month and what you can find, burger-wise, when you sample the offerings of some local eateries.
Let’s start with one of the newer restaurants on the Kansas City scene, Morton’s Grille. Morton’s is going “all in” for National Burger Month, offering weekly gourmet burger and craft beer pairings. The match-ups change each week.
If you stop in now, you can grab a Bacon-Infused Bacon Burger. This bacon bomb of a burger has bacon stuffed into the prime ground beef, which is then topped with braised pork belly and applewood-smoked bacon.
And it doesn’t stop there. The triple bacon beauty is then topped with a fried egg, arugula and Dijon mustard. The burger is paired with a Tallgrass Pub Ale from Tallgrass Brewing Co. in Manhattan.
I’ll let you research the other three burgers Morton’s will be serving. But we will tempt your taste buds with their names: The Smokey BBQ Cheeseburger, the Double Double, “Ravenous Style” Burger, and the Blue Cheese “Juicy Lucy.” Let your imagination run wild.
Morton’s Grille is located at 4646 J.C. Nichols Parkway. Its telephone number is 816-531-7799.
Now, a visit with the good folks at 75th Street Brewery. The brewpub serves a pretty mean burger, and in honor of National Burger Month, it is rolling out a whole new burger menu.
KC Hopps’ executive chef Ryan Sneed said even the longtime favorite, the Stockyard Burger, got a makeover with a reformulated patty.
75th Street Brewery’s new menu features eight burgers, six made with 100 percent Black Angus beef, plus a turkey burger and a black bean veggie burger.
I asked Sneed to share some of what went into creating the burgers.
“We wanted to showcase the special blend of Angus beef that goes into our patties, as well as the unique preparation of grilling over a wood fire,” he said.
Sneed expects the reworked Stockyard Burger to remain the most popular.
“Everyone loves a really good, juicy, undressed burger with nothing standing in the way between you and the wood-grilled Angus juice running down your chin,” Sneed said.
I can’t argue with that.
75th Street Brewery is located at 520 W. 75th St. Its telephone number is 816-523-4677.
One last stop in our Kansas City Burger Month roundup brings me to Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen. With its impressive wine list and eclectic and creative kitchen, Tannin might not be the first place you think of to grab a burger, but chef Bryan Aaron’s ground beef creation is truly impressive.
It’s the Tannin Executive Burger, created for the restaurant’s ownership group on a busy Saturday night.
“Normally we would do a multi-course dinner for them, but on this night we were so busy that all we had time for was to make an over-the-top Wagyu burger stuffed with foie gras and truffle-braised short ribs, topped with bacon and a fried egg,” Aaron said.
Aaron said they loved the creation so much they wanted the same burger the next time they were in town. Trouble is, it was summer and Tannin doesn’t have short ribs on the menu in the summer. So Aaron and his staff whipped up a Wagyu burger topped with seared tuna, lump crab, avocado, bacon, foie gras and a fried egg. The rotating “Executive Burger” was born,
So, what’s in store for purchasers of the Executive Burger during National Burger Month?
“Our current Executive Burger while in season, is a Wagyu burger topped with tempura soft-shell crab, avocado, bacon, arugula, tomato and an Asian slaw,” Aaron shared.
Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen is located at 1526 Walnut St. Its telephone number is 816-842-2660.
It’s a little late to get 31 burgers in 31 days, but it’s certainty not too late to celebrate National Burger Month.
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons.