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Review: The Company Burger

Ian McNulty on the Freret Street hamburger specialist

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The namesake sandwich anchors The Company Burger. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

The burger obsession may have found its local high water mark at The Company Burger, a hip, new counter-service joint where the single-minded focus is so intense it's almost spooky.

  There are a few different burger options here — including lamb and turkey — though owner Adam Biderman seems to have included them begrudgingly. To him, the whole restaurant is about a single item, called the company burger or simply "the burger." Its composition is not up for debate, much less customization.

  You get a pair of thin patties, an unremarkable blend of chuck and brisket, each packed loosely to allow a considerable amount of juice to ooze out. Over this goes American cheese melted into gooey yellow glory which warms a layer of red onion, allowing its essence to seep into the meat. Pickles go on top and the squishy, puffy, superior bun proves durable enough to contain the burger's potent grease quotient.

  It's compact and precise, fitting in a modest cardboard tray as snug as a Lego block, and even if it's not exactly pretty, it is full of flavor and the glistening mouthfeel makes this burger a thing of beauty.

  It's also a burger with a biography. Biderman, a New Orleans native, originally developed it at Atlanta's wildly popular Holeman & Finch Public House, where two dozen burgers are prepared at 10 p.m. each night, and diners in the know jockey for access to the limited supply. When Biderman moved back home he began planning a restaurant to do this burger full time.

  The Company Burger opened in August, joining Freret Street's fast-growing restaurant row. It's an attractive spot, with a wide-open kitchen and a tight, usually crowded, collection of tables and communal dining bars. The staffers are nice as can be, though the restaurant's format is so rigid some diners may still feel put off. The kitchen doesn't stock lettuce or tomato and your cheese choices are American or nothing.

  The turkey burger is a little depressing. Its dry patty seems like an apology for the succulence of the standard burger, though perhaps it's intended to balance the pork belly corn dog, which really should be split as an indulgent nibble rather than set upon as lunch. The twice-cooked fries are thick, crisp and excellent, especially when sampled with the half-dozen or so dips at the Company Burger's self-serve mayo bar. The red onion rings also are very good. There's no veggie burger, though you can eke out a decent meatless meal on the grilled cheese and the daily vegetable, procured from Hollygrove Market & Farm.

  The engineers of Freret Street's revitalization made sure restaurants could easily get liquor licenses. The Company Burger takes full advantage with an unusually robust drink selection, including cocktails devised with help from the crew at Cure, the nearby upscale lounge.

  That was probably just a neighborly favor, but the Cure connection sure seems notable. Both places are particularly dedicated to the craft of their main attraction.

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