Atlanta: Brunch Burgers Worth Waking Up For at Buttermilk Kitchen
4225 Roswell Road, Atlanta GA 30342 (Map); 678-732-3274; buttermilkkitchen.com
Cooking Method: Cast iron skillet
Short Order: Breakfast and lunch spot does a cool brunchy twist on a burger
Want Fries with That? The Crispy Fried Potatoes are a great add-on
Price: Dad's Waffle, $13; Bacon-Cheddar Burger, $12
Note: Opening hours: Tues. to Fri., 7:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 8. a.m. - 3 p.m.; Bacon-Cheddar Burger only available during weekend brunch
I love brunch. Mainly, I think, it's the anything-goes variety of what you can get away with eating in a single meal. Let's see, I think I'll have eggs Benedict, a slab of prime rib, pancakes, chicken fingers, home fries, and some red velvet cake. Right away, sir. Enjoy your brunch. (Yes, I have a bit of an overeating problem. Especially at brunch places. Shut up and pass the banana pudding.)
And while a hamburger may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're handed a midmorning menu, maybe that just means you're not brunching at the right place. Buttermilk Kitchen, tucked away in the Chastain area, has more than one burgercentric brunch option; either one will totally make your morning, whether you're dragging yourself in after a long night, or just getting a leisurely start to a busy Saturday.
The old residence can get lost on busy Roswell Road, despite the bright blue paint job. Inside, it feels authentically homey, with timeworn hardwood floors and mismatched seating spread throughout the former rooms and outdoor patio. Open for breakfast and lunch, chef/owner Suzanne Vizethann's weekend brunch menu brings them together and is liberally dotted with Southern classics and homestyle favorites alike, from shrimp and grits to biscuits and gravy.
But it was Dad's Waffle ($13) that caught my eye. Instead of the more common slap-an-egg-under-the-bun-and-call-it-a-breakfast-burger approach, Dad's Waffle brings the burger to the breakfast by topping Buttermilk Kitchen's sourdough waffle with a huge burger patty, gracing it with a pat of house butter, and serving it with maple syrup.
I know. It's a burger on a waffle. Surprisingly simple in its construction. But Dad's Waffle is superb in its execution. First, a word on the waffle. That bad boy is made from 105-year-old starter. Not overly sweet like many versions, Buttermilk's sourdough batter has a yeasty, tangy flavor about it that makes feel it much heartier than just an oversized Eggo.
The burgers themselves at Buttermilk Kitchen are impressive, too. At least eight ounces (I'm guessing more) of grass-fed beef, given a fantastic char in a cast-iron skillet, cooked to a beautiful medium-rare that I regret not getting a flattering photo of. But that's a testament to how quickly I devoured my Dad (not a phrase I ever expected to type) once the butter melted and the syrup gave it all a sweet, sticky bath.
A burger-topped waffle isn't everybody's cup of tea, though. My server Jamez (yes, with a z) called it, despite it being his favorite thing on the menu, "the least seller." Apparently no one orders Dad's Waffle. I promised him I'd get the word out that this is a tasty twist of a dish...but I might humbly make a suggestion. Next time I order Dad's Waffle (and there will be a next time), I'm ordering a side of bacon, crumbling it up, and sprinkling those beautiful pork bits all over the top of everything for some textural crunch and an extra hit of needed saltiness.
But maybe you're not looking for any breakfast component at all. (That's okay. It is brunch, after all. Whatevs.) For a more traditional burger choice, go for the Bacon-Cheddar Burger ($12). Available only for brunch, that same grass-fed, cast-iron-kissed beef sits atop a beautiful and squishy bun, with lettuce underneath, and grated cheddar, superthin-sliced red onion, house pickles, and two strips of thick, holy-crap-TRY-this-but-one-bite-only bacon on top.
One of the more photogenic burgers I've been served recently, it was also one of the better tasting ones, with every element proportioned just right and another spot-on medium-rare by the cook. Buttermilk Kitchen would never call itself a "burger joint," but they do an exceptional burger nonetheless.
The accompanying Crispy Fried Potatoes feel brunchier than standard fries and are fantastic any time of day. Tossed in fresh herbs, fried onions, and sea salt, mine had an outer shell that almost shattered on impact and gave way to a warm and fluffy interior that had me wishing for even more of them in an already-respectably-sized side order.
I didn't expect to be blown away by burgers at a brunch place, but Buttermilk Kitchen's burgers did just that. My biggest complaint about them is that they'll make it harder for me to work my way down the rest of the menu. That Pimento Cheese Omelet/Blueberry Cobbler Pancakes/John & Yoko Ono Whoopie Pie combo platter extravaganza I had fantasized about may have to wait longer than expected.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT, pizzas for Slice, and desserts for Sweets, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for The Gaslight Anthem. Or both.