Michael Mina 74 has been around less than two years, but the underground eatery at the Fontainebleau already has an annual tradition worthy of celebrating. "We take Burger Month very seriously," says chef de cuisine Thomas Griese. Indeed, his boss and Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina agrees, saying, "A burger is an important find. There's a real science to it."
And though it's no secret that the dry-aged burger at Bourbon Steak is a Magic City favorite, have you tried Griese's decadent buns at Michael Mina 74? Last year, the chef introduced four new burgers, some of which have been permanently added to the menu. "The Korean barbecue salmon burger, which we came up with last year, is now one of our best-sold burgers," Griese says. "Who knows? Some from this year might stick around for the long run too."
As for the beefy concoctions, Griese was partially inspired by some good old childhood nostalgia, as well as Miami flavors. New Times recently sampled some of the patties.
The coast-to-coast burger ($28) merges flavors of San Francisco and Miami. "Why coast to coast? Well, corporate Mina is based in San Francisco, and we've got great burger programs on both coasts, so we're taking flavors from one coast and literally bringing them to another," Griese explains. The patty blend of chorizo and short-rib Wagyu brings Miami flair, topped with the Cali flavors of avocado, bacon, and sunny-side-up egg. Miami caps it off with crisp potato fritas. "So it's kind of like a frita but not, and when you compress the bun over the egg, the yolk explodes and makes its own hollandaise." Rich, decadent, and packed with abundant flavor, it's one helluva mouthful.
Make your wildest burger dreams a reality with the chili mac 'n' cheese burger ($26). Once you've gotten over the initial shock of a chili mac 'n' cheese burger being a real thing, take a bite. "My mother always made chili mac 'n' cheese growing up, and I always thought about it from a culinary standpoint. It was the perfect occasion to do something really special." In this case, that something special consists of a dry-aged steak patty topped with homemade chili with a macaroni terrine with baked cheddar folded over it, Kumato tomato, and lettuce. It is hands down one of the most delectable burgers you'll ever try.
Don't eat meat? No problem. Griese has added a spicy tuna burger ($28) to satisfy non-carnivores. "As a chef and individual, I love to eat sushi, so I wanted to do a play off that." What better way than with ahi tuna steak? The fish is marinated in a poke with garlic, chili, soy sauce, and sesame oil before it's crusted in sesame seeds. The whole thing is topped with house-made pickled ginger, ponzu compressed cucumbers, and wasabi aioli for just the right amount of kick.
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The last burger, the Indy 500, is more than about racing cars. "The Indy 500 happens to land at the end of National Burger Month, and so does my birthday." Growing up in Indiana, Griese would accompany his father to the race every year. "There were two things I always wanted on my birthday: chocolate-covered strawberries and this Indy 500 burger that had giant onion rings, spicy Louie, and dill pickles." A fanatic of pickles, he admits to eating them by the handful and straight from the jar. This baby boasts a dry-aged steak patty, crisply fried onion rings dipped in a special Indy 500 batter, spicy Louie sauce, and, of course, dill pickles.
If you like your buns with a shot of Jameson, Michael Mina 74 is serving pickleback shots for the duration of National Burger Month for just $5. "Told you I loved pickles, but I also love Jameson," Griese admits. Pickle juice or not, where else can you get a five-buck shot of Jameson on the Beach?