Bobby Flay created Bobby's Burger Palace with one thing in mind — what he wanted to eat when he was done working in the kitchen of one of his many restaurants. And that wasn't foie gras. No, it was a burger, more specifically a burger with American cheese.
Last week, he opened his first West Coast Bobby's Burger Palace, his ode to all things burgers, fries and shakes, at Crystals, right in front of Mandarin Oriental. Here, Flay talked about the restaurant and its menu, pointing out myriad new things introduced to the mini-chain with the opening in Vegas.
1. The first Bobby's Burger Palace opened in Long Island six years ago.
2. The menu here focuses on burgers, fries and shakes. "To me, making all three of those categories great is the key to success," Flay says.
3. Flay calls Bobby's Burger Palace, "a very American concept. A lot of the recipes and a lot of the garnishes here are based on my travels through the United States. About 10 years ago, one of the shows I had on the Food Network was a show called Food Nation. It was a very simple idea. It was a magazine-style show where I would pick a place in America and I would sort of discover with the viewer the food culture of a particular place. Really, I traveled the entire country through food. If you look at the places on the menu, you can see a lot of the places are represented."
4. For the opening of Vegas, Flay created the Vegas burger. "For Las Vegas, I was trying to predict what the flavors of Las Vegas are. Yes, we're in the Southwest but Vegas is so much more than just being in the Southwest. I felt like we wanted to do something that was explosive, because that's what Las Vegas is in so many ways."
5. That translates into pickled Fresno chiles with white American cheese and "something called barbecue crunch on there." Technically, barbecue potato chips.
6. "One of our trademarks is crunchifying your burger. All it is, is thin crisp potato chips on any burger and it's free."
7. Flay uses Lay's potato chips for the crunch.
8. "As a chef, the flavor is important, but just as important is the contrast of texture. If something has all the same texture, it's just not as fun to eat."
9. The LA burger has avocado relish, tomato, cheddar cheese and watercress, while the New Mexico burger has roasted green chiles and a queso sauce.
10. "When you hear the name of the burgers, you can conjure up what they will taste like kind of in a predictable way, but hopefully executed in the very best way."
11. Many of the new burgers debuting in Vegas got their start as a burger of the month. The Carolina burger got its start that way with its smoked American cheese, green onion slaw and mustard barbecue sauce.
12. So did the Brunch burger — a fried egg, smoked bacon and American cheese. "It's very good for Las Vegas hangovers, I will tell you. I think I'm actually going to have one of those in a minute."
13. Also new, a griddled pimento and bacon sandwich.
14. Flay considers every component when making his version of the perfect burger. For the meat, he uses certified Angus beef.
15. Burgers also come in turkey or as a chicken breast sandwich.
16. "We do not have frozen fries in this restaurant," Flay says. "We're probably the only restaurant in this price point where every fry starts in the back of this kitchen as a potato." Potatoes are cut, soaked overnight, then blanched in canola oil. The fries are cooked halfway through. Then when ordered, the potatoes are fried at 375 degrees.
17. The fry sauce is a mayonnaise-based sauce with chipotle.
18. Beer-battered onion rings and sweet potato fries also make the menu.
19. The sweet potato fries come with a sauce that has honey, mustard and a little bit of horseradish.
20. Also new, side dishes can be combined, ordering half fries, half onion rings and so forth.
21. "It's a very recognizable meal, but there will be some surprises in it," Flay says.
22. There are 11 ounces of ice cream in every shake. "Not 10 ounces, not eight ounces. Eleven ounces. It takes a lot of ice cream to make a great shake."
23. Flay promises the pistachio shake will become a cult favorite in Vegas.
24. New shakes also make the menu, including the mint chocolate chip and the mocha caramel shake.
25. Spiked shakes include vanilla, bourbon and caramel as well as pineapple coconut rum.
26. Bobby's Burger Palace also has the very first margarita bar "because people in Las Vegas like to drink margaritas. I know that from having Mesa Grill for nine years."
27. Both are frozen margaritas — a classic lime margarita and cactus pear margarita, similar to the margaritas served in Flay's restaurants.
28. Any burger can be ordered as a new topless burger, served on mesclun greens instead of with a bun.
29. Guests order with a cashier, pay and then sit wherever they like. "We call it quick casual."
30. Three of the five sauces in the sauce caddies are made in house. The burger sauce is like a steakhouse sauce, a little sweet and a little thick and rich. The chipotle ketchup is smoky and fiery, and the jalapeño hot sauce has green chiles for heat.
31. "Whenever I walk into the restaurant, people are smiling."
32. "My goal is to get you to crave this burger. To get people to decide to eat this burger instead of one they've been eating for their entire lives is a very hard chore."
33. A sign in the kitchen that says, "Bobby says melt the cheese completely." "I want my cheese melted, and when they don't take the extra 20 seconds to melt the cheese, it drives me crazy."
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