640 N. Highland Avenue, Atlanta GA 30306 (Map); 404-724-0711; cafe640.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: The beefy burger with rich toppings impressed in miniature form, but proved to be too much as a full-size menu item
Want Fries with That? The shoestring fries were crisp and enjoyable
Price: Andy's Burger w/house fries, $11
It's happened to us all. You meet someone, a chance encounter in a random situation, and you find yourself instantly, totally, and completely smitten. Then you part ways and go on with your life. Over time, you think back on that moment with increasing frequency. And every time you do, your someone only gets nicer. Funnier. Cooler. More interesting. Drop-dead sexier. Soon, your someone is The One That Got Away—sheer perfection having revealed itself for one brief shining moment. Then one day, you're face to face with that blast from your past, and you realize...you were wrong. This story is about my someone. His name is Andy's Burger.
The first time I met Andy's Burger was at Atlanta's first Battle of the Burgers, back in October. While I sampled plenty of tasty burgs that afternoon, none surprised me more than the bite-sized flavor bomb from a place called Cafe di Sol.
Andy's Burger was described as, "All-natural ground chuck topped with herb and garlic-roasted shiitake mushrooms, melted Gruyère cheese and fluffy garlic aioli on a sesame seed bun." In my tasting notes from that day (God, I'm such a dork), I remarked that "I'm not sure what you have to do to garlic aioli to make it 'fluffy,' but...I'm a big, big fan."
And then...two ships in the night. Cafe di Sol wasn't in a part of town I hit often, so the legend of Andy's Burger just grew in my mind. I tried seemingly every other burger in town, always thinking back to that day in the park. The earthy chew of the shiitakes...the buttery creaminess of the Gruyère...the wonderful char of the beef...the, um, garlicky fluffiness of the aioli. I couldn't take it anymore. I arranged a rendezvous.
It wasn't easy. First, there was the matter of actually finding the place, literally hidden behind the foliage of a monster tree on Atlanta's hip-funky-cool North Highland Avenue. And just like your old flames on Facebook, my someone had a new name now. Apparently tired of people mistaking them for a Mexican joint, Cafe di Sol had become Cafe 640. But the menu hadn't changed; Andy's Burger had been waiting for me this whole time.
Since our last meeting, Andy's Burger had gained a lot of weight. And unlike your high school crush at the 20-year reunion, that was a good thing here. Now with a full-size version at my fingertips, I popped open the bun for a closer peek at the stuff I'd been dreaming about since the previous fall.
I smelled the mushrooms, blanketed under that velvety Gruyère. The bun was slathered with aioli of the same color; it was hard to tell where cheese stopped and garlicky fluffiness began. The beef itself was charred in all the right places and made me quite glad that there was now even more of this burger to love. My server had given me a knowing nod when I asked for medium-rare, and that's precisely what I saw when I sawed this bad boy in half.
First bite? Everything I'd remembered and more. The Angus fell away in chunks like a good loosely-formed patty should and had that unmistakable grilled taste. Even the bun showed some telltale crosshatching. I'm a sucker for 'shrooms on a burger, and these were bold and meaty enough to stand toe-to-toe with the big burg. And oh, that glorious Gruyère. Its sweetness was the perfect counter to the assertive garlic element.
But sadly, the more time I spent with Andy's Burger, those character quirks I found so endearing at the beginning suddenly rubbed me the wrong way. The sesame seed bun from local fave Alon's was huge, more overwhelming with each mouthful, it seemed. And the fluffy garlic aioli that wooed me as a dollop in the fall was practically smothering me (and the burger) in its full form now. By the time I reached the burg's back half, I thought I was working my way through a loaf of soggy garlic bread. The beef was still quite good, but it was lost.
Ultimately, I think Andy's Burger worked best as a two-bite morsel. The rich flavors made it a terrifically exciting fling, but for a long-term relationship to work, I guess I need more than fluffy garlic aioli. I still think there's a lovely burger under there; maybe I'll go back to try the build-your-own option, or something else entirely off the Cafe 640 menu. (My Idaho and sweet potato house chips with melted gorgonzola and Sriracha were exceptional.) As for Andy's Burger, I need to move on. You're not who I thought you were. It's over. But we'll always have October.
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, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and recently 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 Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.
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