721 9th Avenue, San Diego CA 92101 (map); 619-232-3242; cafechloe.com
Cooking method: Grilled
Short Order: Juicy top sirloin patties with a balanced variety of sweet and savory toppings
Want Fries With That? A mixed green salad comes by default, but I had no trouble swapping it for some tasty frites
Price: Hache Burger, $13.50
Notes: Only available on Mondays
I spend most Mondays recovering from and atoning for my sins of the previous 48 hours—a blur of reckless gluttony punctuated by naps—so eating a burger is typically at the bottom of my list.
That's probably why it's taken me so long to make it to Cafe Chloe for their Hache Burger ($13.50), a Monday-only special featuring a sirloin patty with a well-balanced mix of sweet and savory toppings on a buttery, toasted bun. If you haven't experienced this burger yet, don't wait as long as I did; it deserves a priority spot on your to-eat list...even if that means behaving yourself on the weekend.
With its charming, Parisian-style neighborhood bistro setting, a traditional burger would feel out of place. Instead, you get a premium burger with a subtle French accent that will appeal to purists for one important reason: the juicy beef patty is the undisputed headliner. It's made with top sirloin—the same meat the restaurant uses for its steak tartare—so it's robust and aggressively beefy. I wasn't asked how I wanted mine cooked, but was happy to find that it was quite rare. There wasn't much char, but the patty was rich and flavorful enough without it.
Along with the crisp, battered shallots on top, there are some diced bits of shallots flecking the patty, which brings a touch of sweetness to the beef. That's amped up even more by the roasted Roma tomatoes, which also introduce some acidity. Combined with the peppery arugula (sparingly applied) the slightly salty Gruyère, and the Dijonnaise, you get a burger with big, but well-balanced flavors—something that's not always an easy feat.
Capping it all off was the bun, which I'm guessing got an egg wash or was brushed with butter before being toasted in the oven, since the surface area was crisp and flaky without being dry, a lot like a croissant.
A mixed green salad is the defacto side for the burger, but I was able to sub fries at no extra cost. They're thin-cut, tasty, and absolutely worth ordering, but I think I'd go with the salad on my next visit, if only because the burger was so filling that I couldn't manage to get through more than half of them. If you can convince someone to split the burger with you, it's a good dish to share, especially if you can convince your +1 to order the mac and cheese.