Brunch Drunk Love
2389 Mission Street (inside Bruno's), San Francisco CA 94110 (map); 415-648-6800; brunchdrunklovesf.com
Short Order: No meat in this burger, just a mushroom cap stuffed with cheese and deep-fried. It can't replace a beef patty, but it's satisfying in its own right
Want Fries with That? Yes; you get a big bowl of tasty, fried potato wisps
Price: Shroom burger w/ fries, $13 Notes: Weekends only
This is not a burger we'd typically feature here at AHT because, well, um, it doesn't contain any meat. Hear me out—I have my reasons.
You see, out here in the Bay Area, we revel in our easy access to In-N-Out, but having faced just a few too many pictures of the oh-so-far-away burgers from Shake Shack, I sometimes get a little twitchy when I come across anything even remotely close. Which is why, when I realized that the Shroom Burger at San Francisco's Brunch Drunk Love bears a striking similarity to the offering of the same name at Shake Shack, I simply had to have it.
Also, for those inclined to care about this sort of thing, this particular "burger" comes to us from a former Top Chef contestant, Ryan Scott. On the show, he seemed to earn more publicity for his looks than, you know, his cooking, but I'd heard nice things about his actual food from other sources. Besides, Brunch Drunk Love, a boozy, weekends-only pop-up brunch in a seventies-style nightclub space, sure sounds like fun, right?
The Shroom Burger at Brunch Drunk Love arrives sporting a wild hairdo of alfalfa sprouts—a vegetable I'm quite certain has never found its way into a Shake Shack. But like the Shack's 'Shroom Burger, the core of this sandwich is a portobello mushroom cap that has been stuffed with cheese, breaded, and fried. The BDL version advertises a five-cheese blend—jack, swiss, cheddar, provolone, and mozzarella, if you're counting—that retains just enough cheesy funk to stand up to the breading and the flavor of those sprouts. As the cheese oozes out, it mixes with a house-made thousand island dressing and the salty-crisp shell encasing the mushroom.
For one meal, at least, I didn't regret skipping the hamburger patty. Though, I will say that some burger juice might have helped to soften up the bread. I found the brioche bun slightly dense and a bit too firm. On a sandwich that already requires you to detach your upper jaw, biting into a bun without much give inevitably results in the sandwich's fillings getting expelled. It turned into a bit of a mess. Thankfully, I didn't mind going after all that crunchy-cheesy-sprouty goodness with my fingers.
There's no beef in this burger, but we're not bucking tradition completely—you still get fries. Brunch Drunk Love serves up delicious little wisps of potato that vary in consistency from slightly soft, to crisp-skinned, to a few little bits that had become crunchy like the Potato Stix we used to buy at the local bodega in middle school. Happily, Brunch Drunk Love delivers a sizable portion of these spuds.
In keeping with its name, BDL offers plenty of beverages that will get you drunk. Their Mission Mary comes with lots of booze, lots of spice, and a little crumble of bacon. They also serve up some of the treats you can get at Scott's 3-Sum Eats food truck, including a "Snak Pak" of his housemade Twinkie and a Whoopie Pie. (The Shroom Burger occasionally appears on the 3-Sum Eats menu as well.)
Sure, a cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom burger might be even better when paired with a burger patty (or on a softer bun), but it's good enough on its own to warrant skipping the beef every once in a blue moon.
About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter (@pizzakover) where he promises all burger intel for the foreseeable future will involve actual beef patties.