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Fresh Eats: From Scraps Comes the Perfect Steakburger 

Wednesday, Apr 13 2011

We're a city of burgers: the homely, the grass-fed, the absurdly truffled. And while it's easy to put out a good-tasting burger if you've buried the thing under aioli, bacon, and onion jam, it's hard to do minimal well. For that, each object in a very limited field of elements has to be exactly right, able to stand, well — naked.

Lark Creek Steak's steakburger is on of the few in San Francisco that can, thanks to a whole lot of scraps. New chef Ismael Macias (longtime sous-chef at another Lark Creek property, One Market) explains that what makes the burger so delicious is that it's a by-product of Lark Creek Steak's in-house butchery. The kitchen takes all the bits and off-cuts from its Marin Sun Farms ribeyes and New York steaks, Wagyu filets, and other flotsam of prime-meat trim and sends them through the grinder a couple of times. "All the ends, all the bits of fat," Macias says, "all the meats that come in every day."

But one person's scrap bin is another's dream patty. Coarse-ground, in an 8-ounce disc the cooks don't salt till it's already on the grill (so it stays juicy), blackened — even at medium-rare — over a mix of mesquite charcoal and almond wood on Lark Creek Steak's spitjack grill — this is a burger that stands up to the elemental. Within its exoskeleton of char, the meat is soft, infused with the campfire sweetness of wood smoke. It's sheathed in a sesame brioche bun from Panorama that convinces you it tastes buttery from seeds alone, a bun that collapses just enough. It doesn't dissolve into a panade from the meat's juices or register as bready, cottony, or dry. And sure, the steakburger comes with a stack of tomato, grilled onions, and slices of very tasty house-cured pickles, but you don't need them to plaster over deficiencies.

Just ask Macias. He says he tries to watch what he eats — a piece of grilled chicken, maybe, when he's working. His first burger here? He intended to eat just half. "It's so good I ate the whole thing," he says. I know how he feels.

About The Author

John Birdsall

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