By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Ever been to Flip Burger Boutique at The Summit? If not, you are missing more than a great hamburger. It not only has a cool concept, but its food is also as unique as its “twisted” ambience.
Located at 220 Summit Blvd., Suite 140, it is on the “high” side of The Summit. The ambience is crisp and modern in contrasting colors of black, white, and red—with a touch of whimsy. Flip Burger boasts panoramic views from its red umbrella tables on the patio and from the booths inside, which line the wall of windows to the right. The tops of the pristine white leather booths mirror the bottoms in this ambience, which is flipped upside down. Along the left wall, the long bar and flat screen TVs lead to the open kitchen. Tables fill the center of the space, making two long aisles that lead to the back wall with more tables and doors leading to the patio. And above in the high ceiling is a dramatic abstract mural, which adds circular movement to the linear space below.
Flip’s creative director, chef Richard Blais has fun with food. Constantly thinking outside the box, his burgers range from classic to progressive. Blais is also know for winning Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars in season eight and for appearances on Top Chef: Chicago and the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. I enjoyed spending time with him recently, when he was here to promote his cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate. Blais is the vanguard of the burger world. His progressive imagination never stops experimenting and integrating new flavor and texture combinations—reinventing what goes inside the bun. And Flip Burger Boutique’s monthly burger specials are served as prime examples. Birmingham’s executive chef is Alex Gutierrez.
Flip Burger is as famous for its N2 milkshakes. They are a hit with the kids, and adults enjoy the option of adding alcohol to any shake. The drinks also change with the seasons except for the mainstay classics. Our longtime favorite is the Nutella Milkshake. Liquid nitrogen toasts the baby marshmallows on top, and it is a balance of dark, rich chocolate flavors—not overly sweet, nor bitter. Today I discover the Frozen Pomegranate Cosmopolitan. It is a combo of smoke and ice, arriving in a smoking martini glass filled with this icy, hot pink, refreshing fruit bomb.
For appetizers we select Tuna Crisps, Fried Okra, and Fried B&B Pickles. The fresh tuna makes a refreshing, cold, and crisp dish for this hot weather. Three wonton crisps are topped with raw tuna tartare, avocado puree, and spicy mayo, and crowned with alfalfa sprouts. They are fresh, flavorful, and full of texture. Pods of in-season okra are sliced in half length-wise, battered in tempura batter, and fried in your request of oil. Our selection of the non-GMO option of beef fat (for all our fried dishes) makes them even tastier. The Fried B&B Pickles are golden, crisp on the outside and sweet-tart and juicy on the inside, served with house made condiments.
For entrees we select the Cobb Salad, Big Bison, and Trio sampler of mini burgers: Classic, Stack, and Fried Chicken. The Cobb Salad arrives in a large bowl filled with chopped mixed greens, watercress, sliced boiled egg, avocado, warm bacon, and seared chicken, dotted with bits of scallions and bites of blue cheese, and dressed in red wine vinaigrette. I would come here just for this beautiful entree-sized salad.
The Big Bison is just that—big and packed with protein. Piled high over an 8-ounce bison patty is Bibb lettuce, fresh tomato, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, crisp slices of bacon, a perfectly fried egg, and Flip sauce. On first bite, the egg yolk drizzles down the bacon, tomato, lettuce, and patty, creating a synthesis of flavors. The classic is an Angus beef patty, Bibb lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and Flip Sauce—the same great burger you grill at home only without the sweat. And here is the beef: The Stack is two specialty seasoned slider patties topped with American cheese, grilled onion, tomato, shredded lettuce, and pickle. One bite tells why it is the in-house favorite. And golden on the outside, and white, moist, and juicy on the inside, the Southern Fried Chicken breast overfills a bun slathered in Duke’s mayo topped with a pickle. Unfortunately, there is no room for another milkshake for dessert.•