More exploration of the burger scene in NoVA required a trip to Elevation Burger. People say nice things and Ray's Hell Burger isn't open for lunch. So . . . my buddy DG and I ventured over yesterday to check things out.
Bottom Line Up Front:
Reminiscent of In-N-Out Burger, the Elevation Burger product was pretty good. If Ray’s Hell Burger isn’t an option, I’d still probably choose a Clyde's burger over Elevation. Their fries are a real limiting factor.
We arrived in the midst of a modest lunch rush. Still, the service was friendly and quick. The space is bright, airy, and attractive (i.e. this ain’t Five Guys). Prices seemed reasonable.
I ordered a basic cheeseburger presented “Original” style - pickles, lettuce, tomato, & Elevation sauce. Fries and a chocolate shake composed the classic accompaniments (Do ya hear that Ray’s? FRIES!).
A request for medium rare was met with a polite and pained explanation of “We cook all our burgers to X temperature in order to ensure. . .blah, blah, blah.” Given that this basically boils down to “Our lawyers make us do this,” I can’t complain about the guys behind the counter. However, it’s a continuing bummer to be denied a pink hamburger; ESPECIALLY in the day and age where everyone (including Elevation) is crowing about their grass-fed, organic, hyper-tasty beef. It seems a waste to use beef that tastes like beef if you’ve got to cook it ‘til it’s gray.
In any case, the resulting burger was tasty enough. Significant amounts of black pepper seem to be involved in their preparation and that happens to be a flavor I like. It might strike others as a bit much. The bun was light, but held together well. The delivery in a simple waxed paper wrapper and the fresh toppings reminded me of In-N-Out. The entire thing had a bit more grease happening than the west coast chain, however (the bun itself was shinny with it). In fact, you could think of this product as Five Guys meets In-N-Out.
The chocolate shake was good, although a bit more complex than it needed to be. I bet money that either the chocolate syrup or the ice cream they use has something fancy in its name - “Dutch” chocolate or “European-style" vanilla for example. I don’t see why people feel the need to overly complicate something that works as is. Still, not something that was tough on the taste buds.
The really questionable item, in my opinion, was the fries. Their menu makes a big thing out of the fact that their fries are done in olive oil. Their use of the term “heart healthy” leaves me to assume they think there’s some health benefit in using olive oil as the frying medium. That’s a nice concept, but there’s a problem of physics. Olive oil’s relatively low smoke point makes it poorly suited as a deep frying medium. If you try to fry potatoes in hot (but not burning) olive oil, you get what they have at Elevation Burger. The result of cute marketing and poor science: brownish, characterless, sodden, oddly flavored fries. A poor trade for some perceived “heart healthy” gain.
Elevation Burger is fine. I won't drive across town for one and I won't eat their fries again until they put some peanut oil in that fry-o-lator. If Ray’s Hell Burger would just decide to open for lunch (and add fries to the menu!!), we could stop messing about and just head there whenever the burger mood strikes. Until then, we’ll be compelled to choose among the also-rans.
442 S Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
Ray's Hell Burger
1713 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209
1700 N. Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311