Jeff Mason of Pal's Take Away, San Francisco's Socrates of sandwich makers, has impressed every food critic in town. Now he's entering more treacherous waters: the ones where the burger geeks swim.
The weekday permanent pop-up recently introduced Burger Wednesdays, which occur every two weeks--today, for instance, and then again on April 9.
Mason spent months testing out beef blends with Marin Sun Farms, finally settling on a mix of ground brisket, short rib, chuck and "one other thing," which he'll confide to you if you lean in close.
The mystery ingredient gives the meat a double-dose of beefiness, so that Pal's Burger ($11), served rare to medium-rare, tastes more like aged steak.
Make that a butter-topped steak, given the Marla Bakery brioche bun that frames it; roasted cherry tomatoes and pimento-Cheddar spread do their part as well.
The daily special burger from two weeks ago
Each Burger Wednesday, Mason serves the Pal's Burger and a special of the day (also $11). His creative process involves driving around, letting ideas pop into his head. "If I test it and it tastes better than I imagined, then I'll serve it," he says.
The special we tried far exceeded its description: Smeared with miso mayonnaise, the top of the burger was coated with long-fried shallots--toasty and sweet--and shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, with a thatch of biting arugula underneath.
We aren't burger geeks, but we were sold.
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