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FEED ME! Brakeman burger beyond super-sized
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – “I recommend compression,” said the waitress. Well, duh.
The half-pound burger she placed in front of me was a good six inches tall. Joe and Patty Reed, founders and owners of The Brakeman American Grill in Victor, where I’ve met the tallest burger of my 30-some years, profess to have created the best burger west of the Mississippi. And it very well might be.
However, my first thought before facing off against this behemoth was it might be the most contrived burger west of the Mississippi. Yes, I can exaggerate, but saying the Yellowstone Special Burger is six inches tall is no exaggeration at all.
Does it matter how good a burger is if you can’t fit it into your mouth? I want to eat my burger, not display it down the front of my shirt.
Really, what’s the purpose of making such an immense burger, other than as a gimmick? And the Brakeman doesn’t need a gimmick. Do they want me to leave feeling sickly stuffed rather than happily satisfied?
When I bite into a burger, I hope, with most every bite, to taste bits of beef and also the selection of toppings I have carefully curated. Yes, the Yellowstone Special has a fair amount of toppings – cheddar, bacon, sweet BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo – and I did add avocado to the mix. But I’ve certainly had burgers elsewhere with the same toppings and have not had to dislocate my jaw to eat them.
The Brakeman doesn’t just put cheddar cheese on the Yellowstone Special, but a half-inch-thick slab of cheddar cheese. Melted, it cascaded down the side of the burger like Lower Yellowstone Falls. On steroids. And Lower Yellowstone Falls is already twice the height of Niagara Falls.
The avocado was a full half of an avocado, scooped out of the skin and cut lengthwise into spears. The onion was a full slice close to half-an-inch thick. The toasted bun had good compression and crumb. Bravo.
The actual burger patty, half-a-pound of chuck ground on-site daily and mixed with a proprietary spice blend, was amazingly difficult to find. This one lay directly beneath Cheese Falls. Once I excavated it, I saw it was cooked perfectly to the temperature I ordered.
Multiple slices of tomato were stacked on top of each other, accounting for perhaps an inch on their own.
At the bottom of all of this sat a mound of iceberg lettuce. There was so much of it not even the weight and grease of all the toppings above could compress it.
Everything at The Brakeman was quality. And prices are eminently reasonable. My burger was $10.95, and it came with hand cut fries.
There’s the saying that it’s not the quantity, but the quality. Right now the Brakeman has both. Unfortunately the former interferes with the latter.
I have no problems with the food itself. My problem is the burger’s contrived construction. If burgers did well in doggie bags, I’d have less of a problem. But they don’t. And neither do fries. Derek and I left an amazing amount of food behind. I don’t think he touched his fries.
Readers, learn from my mistake: get the quarter-pound burger (The Brakeman Junior, $8.45 with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cheese, and mayo; additional toppings start at $1.25) and ask the kitchen to keep it a reasonable size. And then you very well might find yourself biting into the best burger west of the Mississippi.
The Brakeman American Grill, 27 N. Main, Victor; 208/787-2020. Hours: Mon. -Thu. 11:30 am to 8 p.m.; Fri. – Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Can’t make it to The Brakeman Grill? Jackson Whole Grocer sells the grill’s proprietary spice blend.