I come from a long line of burger and fry fans, on both sides, but particularly on my mom’s side. The genetic code is strong in this area. I fondly recall that nearly every time my brother and I would stay with my grandpa (maternal) for a weekend while my parents were out-of-town, we’d inevitably end up at one of the great Seattle burger, fry and shake establishments. And for my grandpa, I believe, that was his definition of “dining out.”
The places I recall visiting with the most frequency include Burgermaster http://www.burgermaster.biz/, the Seattle classic, Kidd Valley http://www.kiddvalley.com/ and the incomparable, Dick’s http://www.ddir.com/. Dicks: equally enjoyable at 1:00pm and 1:00am, as anyone that went to college anywhere in Seattle knows well. And, for those of you not from Seattle, Dick’s Drive Thru is enshrined for all of eternity in the SIR-MIX-ALOT classic, Posse on Broadway. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/sirmixalot/posseonbroadway.html
“Dick’s is the place where the crew hang out-
the SWASS like to play, and the rich flaunt clout-
posse to the burger stand, so big we walk in two’s-
we’re gettin’ dirty looks, from those other sucka crews-“
But I digress…..Even with this strong and early training in the art of savoring a delicious burger, hot off the grill, I, truth be told, now see a burger as a pretty good excuse to devour the accompaniments: fries with ketchup and a milk shake or an icy cold diet coke. And, 99% of the time, you’ll find me ordering a veggie burger, in the case that I’m out with folks for “burgers.”
With this declaration comes one exception, The Great Spruce Burger. This is top of mind now, considering our recent hospital stay. Let me explain.
At the hospital where we’ve delivered our children, there’s a very nice tradition wherein you are provided a “celebration dinner” on your last night’s stay at the hospital for both you and your spouse. They provide linens, and from a special menu provided, you choose your meal. The idea is that you and your spouse, enjoy a memorable last night in the hospital with your new, little offspring before journeying home the next morning. Again, it’s a sweet and personal gesture and one in which they take great pride.
A few weeks before we were due with #1, I met a friend of a friend and had an off-chance, random conversation with her at a barbecue. She passed along one of the best pieces of baby advice that I had been given at the time and to this day have ever been given. “Don’t order the celebration dinner,” she whispered conciliatory. “We ordered the steak dinner with our first and it was what you imagined, Hospital Steak. In fact, my husband wasn’t even sure if was beef.” I grimaced. I’m a bit skittish about ANY suspect meat and if given the choice would become a full-fledged vegetarian versus having to face down any slightly suspect meat product on a regular basis. She then shared her secret. “Instead, we ordered take-out burgers and fries from Spruce!”
Immediately, I grasped the brilliance of this concept. At that point, I didn’t even realize you could order any take-out from Spruce, admittedly, a high-end eatery.
As background, Spruce is a Presidio Heights establishment which has earned a Michelin star, hosts famous clientele (we saw Robin Williams on our first outing, RIP) and is definitely in a category of fine dining or special occasion. With that being said, the bar, although swanky, is replete with tasty nibbles, at a lower price point, perfect for a weeknight date-night (including said burger).
And so, when our #1 was born, we politely declined the celebration dinner at the hospital. This was admittedly and unfortunately, a little awkward since the nurses do make such a big deal of it, starting from about the time your little bundle pops out. “Don’t forget the celebration dinner(!!),” we heard over and over.
Once, we politely bowed out of the dinner, our plan was in place. My husband strode in with champagne and our Spruce burgers and fries and we thoroughly enjoyed a gratifying and savory treat after what had been a frenetic few days of labor and delivery.
So, what makes this meal so memorable? Well, to start, the fries are in another category of fry altogether and the secret, we found out, upon inquiring, is that they are fried in….. duck fat! This may not sound obviously appealing; believe me. It is. Perfectly crunchy on the outside and pillowy on the inside, it imparts such a deliciously fried flavor that you really don’t need sauce of any kind to top it off.
The burger is served on a self-described “English muffin” which it really isn’t. At least it doesn’t resemble the variety that I’m used to slinging out regularly with peanut butter and honey to my little crew at home. Instead, it’s some sort of crispy, buttery flaky goodness that holds the impressively seasoned and thick patty of beef together. Served with homemade, perfectly cured and thinly sliced pickles, special sauce, slices of thick tomato, onion and picked red onions, the burger is left open for you to determine which combo of toppings to add at your heart’s content. It goes without saying, this is not a light meal. However, after a protracted delivery process and with a couple of sleep deprived nights already under your belt, it really hits the spot.
And so, for us, this has become the new tradition. With #2, we, again, danced around the celebration dinner with hospital staff and ordered our Spruce Burgers. And it was repeated a third time with our newest addition a few weeks ago.
So, for any of you that may be having children now or in the future, somewhere around the North part of the city, you may want to consider crafting your own “celebration dinner” from the menu at Spruce or any of the number of other great local take-out spots. It may be more of the celebration that you’re looking for, or just a way to craft a sweet and personal memory of what is a very special time with your new little family.
Until next time,
The City Mouse