Let's get one thing out of the way: If you have not eaten a burger sandwiched between two halves of a “bun” made from deep fried mac-n-cheese, you have not truly lived.
Rockit Burger Bar in Wrigleyville became the latest burger joint to jump on the burgers-with-ridiculous-things-as-buns trends. After seeing buns made from donuts, cronuts and ramen, Chef Amanda Downing said mac 'n' cheese was a natural progression.
“[I thought] this could be the answer to the ramen burger," she said. "Everybody loves mac 'n' cheese."
The burger comes with a patty, lettuce and tomato sandwiched between two deep-fried mac 'n' cheese buns, topped with scallions and sriracha ketchup for a finishing kick. Rather than a side of fries, as most Rockit burgers are served with, it's served with a salad. That’s by design, Downing said.
“People are already going to be giving us grief for how fatty it is, so we decided to diffuse it by giving them a salad on the side,” she said.
But how does it taste? My buddy Night Train (yes, that’s his real name) and I bellied up to the bar last night to find out. I dove in as soon as the burger arrived at our table and promptly got one bite before the entire thing turned to mush, my hands covered in a sheen of grease and cheese. Train, who opted to wait about 10-15 minutes before digging in, had better luck, making it halfway through the burger before the bun wound up coming apart.
It's a fun twist the Mac Daddy, a mac 'n' cheese-topped burger that Rockit Burger Bar has had on the menu since opening. The bun itself was fairly crunchy, with the mac 'n' cheese oozing out from the first bite on. The sriracha ketchup offered some heat, amplifying the flavors and making me wonder why sriracha ketchup isn’t a more common condiment. It's not a delicacy by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely something worth trying if you’re looking to indulge your inner fat kid.
The concept came about as Downing was thinking up ideas for the bar's weekly BurgerLab, which features unique twists on the traditional meat-and-bun combo. She devised the macaroni bun recipe by adapting one that she had used for a similar dish in the past.
“I had used this recipe before to make mac 'n' cheese cubes, and ... it dawned on me a few weeks ago, why not do it so I could make it work for a burger,” she said. “It has worked, I guess. It’s reducing the heavy cream, adding the right amount of cheese and then we use gelatin. It’s[all about] getting the right ratio so it’s not gonna be too runny or too thick.”
Downing said the burger, which costs $14, will only be available through Oct. 6, but she hasn’t ruled out making it a permanent menu item. “We’ll see,” she said. “I have to discuss it with the partners and then we’ll see.”
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