First of all, I'm not totally sure why burgers are still a thing.
I'm pretty sure the burger trend ran hard for at least three or four years, starting around the same time as the economic recession and slowing down a couple of years ago when we got distracted by ramen and cronuts. We ate fast food burgers stuffed with cheese, pub burgers deep-fried and crusted with said ramen noodles, and patties smashed and layered like a beefy mille-feuille. We wrote think pieces on Shake Shack and In-and-Out while dropping serious change on half-pound creations decked out with foie and gold leaf. We ate grass-fed and corn-fed and everything in between.
Burgers had a moment. It was longer than 15 minutes, for sure.
Of course, I'll still order a burger every once in awhile (I will DEFINITELY hit up fivetenburger whenever it resurfaces (please be soon (thank you))),* but I don't think we really need any more new "burger restaurants."
But people that I like and people that I don't like have been talking and talking about KronnerBurger so I added it to my to-eat list.** And there it sat for weeks, like a giant white whale. (The restaurant exterior is painted bright, bright white and the interior is mostly white marble -- get it??!!!)
I guess the real reason I wasn't super enthused about going (besides the above burger rant) was that I am just so tired of the pop-up fetishization of big, bold, shit. Like, really, do you have to add bone marrow/foie/deep-fried pork skin/all the salt in order for your food to sell? It's macho, testosterone-fueled cooking and the Internet loves it. But I don't. I'll eat the shit out of a rich meal, but I don't want to eat a 30000 calorie dinner just because Thrillist told me to.
Chris Kronner, of KronnerBurger (obviously), made his name first at Bar Tartine and then later slinging his signature burger at pop-ups around SF for a number of years and has a gaggle of followers. He's also fairly good looking for someone who maybe only eats burgers all day long, so I'm guessing he gets a lot of lady-fans that way.
Part of his burger's deal is that it can come with a side of bone marrow. It's also (supposedly) always served rare (more on this in a minute),*** topped with this insane and pretty cool cheese-mayonnaise situation, and seasoned with a ridiculous amount of salt. And the bun is made from scratch, the toppings are very fresh, yadda yadda.
It was kind of a surprise to those of us who are required to keep up with restaurant news that Kronner ended up opening his restaurant in Oakland. Not that it is weird to open an expensive burger restaurant in Oakland, but IDK, I think we all expected him to stay in SF. Kronner got his hands on this funky spot on Piedmont Avenue that used to be a shitty Mexican restaurant but before that was a train depot back when Oakland had trains and streetcars and cool stuff like that. There was an old, ugly mural on the side of the building that the neighborhood was (not surprisingly) very attached to — when the design team for KronnerBurger removed/painted over the mural, all of the old school Piedmont-ites flipped their shit. Apparently the mural was covering up several inches of toxic mold or something like that. Maybe it's just me, but I would rather eat at a toxic mold-free restaurant than one that still has its hideous historic mural intact. Others, who have actively boycotted the new restaurant, feel differently. To each her own, I guess.
Anyway, I'm sure you're all on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear about the burger. This is all a very thrilling lead-up, isn't it?
The burger is OK.
I was pretty sad, actually, that it wasn't cooked rare like the server and everyone else said it would be. Some kinda kitchen screw-up, obviously, which was extra sad because I spied Chris K in the kitchen when we left. But luckily, when your line cook over-cooks a rare burger by a minute, it is still a juicy medium-rare, which still works just fine. So the overcook-age was NBD.
The BD was the salt. Jesus fucking christ this burger was salty. And I KNEW it would be, but I was still unprepared. Note to kitchens everywhere: please, please, please use less salt, especially since many of us forget to order water now that all of those drought regulations are in place.
I liked the cheese-mayo stuff. Actually, to be frank, I didn't really notice it as a distinctly cool sauce, but maybe that's the point. There was the moist, juiciness that one gets from a serious slick of mayonnaise, plus melty cheddar in every bite. I like both melty cheese and mayonnaise (a lot), so I'd probably keep this shit in my fridge if Kronner bottles it. Or I guess I could figure out how to make it myself or something.
Um, yeah, what else? The bun was good/not memorable, the tomatoes and lettuce were crisp.
OH YEAH also we got the marrow on the side because, well, when in Rome or whatever. After eating it, I am still not convinced that a house-ground dry-aged burger needs extra meat — especially not fatty, beefy marrow juice. It's also kinda gross to glop the marrow on top of the burger yourself. I guess I can see why they serve it on the side (stunt effect), but I would have been happier for the marrow to come incorporated into the burger already.
We were able to make this cool/gross video, though, so maybe it was worth it?
In the end, I actually ended up liking the other dish we ate a lot more: Thick-cut toast (I think it was $12 toast?? YIKES), topped with padron peppers, a giant portion of uni (that's where the $12 goes), and some kind of leafy herb (nasturtium leaves??). If you look at the picture above, can ID them and confirm/deny nasturtium-ness, I'll amend the post and send you much gratitude.
Also the toast was totally soaked in some kind of delicious citrusy butter situation. It was fucking delicious and worth whatever it was we paid for it.
What's the point of this piece? I dunno, maybe you should go to KronnerBurger and eat something that isn't a burger? They also have well-made and very strong cocktails. (Strong enough that I forgot what I drank.) And I hear that the dessert is dope, so there's that. And the wedge salad looks good.
I guess I'd eat a wedge salad and a fancy dessert for dinner, so perhaps I will go back.
*Infinite parentheticals mean I'm a good writer, right?
**This list is very long. Also I keep it in a spreadsheet organized by location and two sub-categories. I am a normal person, I swear.
***God, I don't know what it is with me and parentheses today. #sorrynotsorry??? Also endnotes, amiright?