Does organic beef taste better? That's the question raised at Elevation Burger, the Arlington, Virginia-based chain that just debuted in South Florida. It's new Coral Springs location started slinging organic, free-range, grass-fed beef burgers on Monday.
The answer, by the way, is yes.
I stopped in Monday to sample Elevation's beef and could tell by the smell that this burger was going to be good. A rich, beefy smell wafts from the line at the sustainably minded restaurant. It doesn't smell like fat or grease but almost like good steak. That's a good sign.
I ordered an Elevation burger, which is two beef patties charred on the griddle and topped with two slices of sharp cheddar cheese. I also got a side of French fries cooked in 100 percent olive oil, and a homemade vanilla milk shake.
The restaurant is attractive for what's essentially a fast-food joint. It's decked in blue and silver, with brown sorghum tables and bamboo flooring. I took a seat and waited about five minutes for my order, which was delivered to my table by one of the burgeristas.
I can tell you without a doubt that the grass-fed, free-range, organic (phew) beef tastes damned good. The patties don't taste greasy; instead, the flavor is intensely steak-like. The beef is ground daily in house, so it's definitely fresh stuff.
My burger came with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and some thick-cut wedges of quality pickle. It would be nice if Elevation offered a few more topping options, but I can at least see why it's strict about the cheddar cheese: the sharp stuff compliments the meat perfectly. I usually hate unmelted cheese on a burger, but this cheese -- melty in some spots and just warm in others -- tasted really good with some textural variation between gooey and firm. The bun that Elevation uses is soft and sweet and slightly toasted.
The best part of the meal, though, had to be the fries. These olive-oil-cooked bad boys are delicious, golden brown, crisp, and salted just the right amount. Unlike the skin-on fries that are so popular nowadays, Elevation's fries are skin-free. Excuse the comparison, but they sort of remind me of McDonald's fries, only with a far better flavor. I couldn't get enough of them.
I enjoyed Elevation so much, I went back the next day and had it again. It was just as good. And maybe it was mental, but I didn't feel as guilty after eating it as I would, say, Five Guys. Healthy burgers? Probably not. But damned good ones nonetheless.