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FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside

posted on February 13, 2009 at 7:25 am
Flip Burger Boutique: Westside
Executive chef Mark Nanna (with his back to the camera) consults with one of his cooks
Much has been said about FLIP, chef Richard Blais’ latest Atlanta offering. You know who he is. So, let’s just get to the food instead of rehashing his culinary career. Blais is the Creative Director and, lets face it, the reason most diners are flocking to this Westside burger joint. But people fail to mention the executive chef, Mark Nanna, who Blais handpicked from the Trail-Blais team. Blais is in the restaurant when he is not out of town striking while the “Top Chef” iron is hot. 
Flip Burger Boutique: Westside
Blais being interviewed by a local television crew during opening week
However, it is Nanna who seems to be the true glue of the operation as he is always at the pass expediting and keeping the communication flowing among the stations. What I like about Nanna as a chef is that he seems to be having fun while leading his staff. Yet, he still exhibits the focus and reserved qualities of a chef with true control over his kitchen. I am glad to see the young chef finally getting his due and take great comfort in his abilities as a diner. 
Flip Burger Boutique: Westside
The digs

The restaurant’s design screams Blais—something never accomplished with prior restaurants with which he has been affiliated. The sleek white furnishings, the flat screens bordered by luxe frames playing music videos. An open kitchen manned by tattooed members of the Trail-Blais team. The music you’d swear is a carbon copy of your—well, my—ipod. It all feels very…now.
FLIP’s concept is simple: burgers, shakes and sides with Blais’ signature wink. And the simplicity—while complicated in conception and execution—is the secret to the burger joint’s success. The menu is still evolving, but certain items appear to have secured a permanent spot. 
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Corned beef; Bacon & Cheese
The “Corned beef”—a tightly packed round of corned beef topped with buttery cabbage and a perfect fried egg nestled in a soft brioche bun from Alon’s Bakery—is not only inspired, but a marvel in burger construction. The egg acts as an adhesive for all the components. And yes, it’s trite, but also true that everything is better when topped with a fried egg. Another favorite, the “Bacon & Cheese,” is admittedly basic in theory, but there is something to be said about a classic done well. And it has Benton’s bacon. Need I say more? I loved the flavors of the blue cheese, red wine jam and onion in the “Butcher Cut,” but I really wish they’d do something about the blue cheese. The mousse-like texture and appearance are a tad off-putting. I think a slice of cheese would benefit this burger from a  textural standpoint and take it from good to great.
FLIP: Westside
Butcher Cut; Codfish
Other burgers, unfortunately, fall short. The “Codfish”—a fried cod patty with malt vinegar, tartare sauce and pea shoot salads—arrived raw in the center during one early visit and excessively greasy the next. Nice idea, but it just didn’t do it for me. The flavors of the “Lamburger” were well balanced, but the cucumber yogurt didn’t help the messiness factor as it ran and melded with the grease-laden juices given off by the lamb patty. I actually had to get up in the middle of the meal and wash my hands after eating this one. The “Steak Tartare” is a dilemma. I absolutely loved the filling—perfectly seasoned and prepped—but the soft bun was a little too squishy when pressed against the equally squishy contents. It requires a crisper bun. The restaurant, however, uses the same bun for every burger so the kitchen doesn’t go bonkers during crush time. This strategy is admittedly smart even if it has its limitations. 
The size of the burgers is my main beef with the restaurant. The burgers are really not a true slider, as they are described or full-sized. My idea of a slider is something that can be eaten in two or three bites. FLIP’s burgers are somewhere between a slider and full-size burger and satisfying if you are eating it alone. However, I’ve found most of my dining companions wanted to split the burgers to experience as many flavors as possible. This gray area size is simply too messy to halve without completely falling apart. 
Flip Burger Boutique: Westside
Tempura rutabaga; french fries
Sides are fun and mostly fried as they should be. But the deep-fried sides have been inconsistent, especially the tempura rutabaga. I have had ideal orders that kept the crunchy coating intact after each bite and others that left me with a large piece of breading hanging from my mouth and an untouched baton of rutabaga in my hand. Still, they are pure divinity when they get it right, which is more often than not. Vodka battered onion rings are a fun concept, but consistently under seasoned and, frankly, kind of blah. The fries are my go-to order. They are always dry on the inside, crispy on the outside and seasoned with a deep mix of spices. 
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“smoked caesar salad”
Another winner, the “smoked caesar salad,” is a must order for salad lovers. Crunchy chunks of romaine dressed in a just creamy enough dressing finished with a splash of fresh lemon juice, a mound of chili threads and fried anchovies is an absolute textural delight. 
Flip Burger Boutique: Westside
Nutella shake
Shakes are simply a matter of personal taste. Many like the Krispy Kreme flavor, but I found the odd chunks of soggy donut dough made for a chewier shake to which I am accustomed. The Nutella shake topped with charred marshmallows was like drinking a grown up s’more in a glass. Insanely good.
Service has been the only area where I have been outright disappointed. I applaud that the seats have been filled from day one, but it seems like complete chaos every time you enter. I’ve stared at empty tables for 20 minutes, while leaning on the wall with the ever-present line of diners-to-be wondering what in the hell the hostesses were doing leaving those tables open. Dining alone has yielded much better results, because it is far easier to snag a seat at the bar than score a table at most hours. The front of the house—while professional and friendly—should have more of a rhythm down by now.

Verdict: The main question is should you go? I say, yes. The burger selection is strong, fun and innovative. I initially complained to a friend that that I didn’t find any of the burgers truly craveable, but that corned beef burger has been creeping into my mind from time to time. FLIP may not be the burger joint to end all burger joints, but is has already earned its place in Atlanta after such a short time. People love burgers. And FLIP will keep filling those seats as long as they do.

INFORMATION

Address: 1587 Howell Mill Road, 30318 
Phone: 404-352-FLIP (3547)
Website
The most current menu from the website:

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7 comments

  • Re: FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside
    posted by: Eht revor · February 13, 2009  4:32 PM

    Not to be nitpicky, but sliders have a specific definition.

    “It’s a thin, thin slip of beef, cooked on a griddle with onions and pickles piled atop patty. The steam from the onions does as much cooking as the griddle. The buns are placed atop the onions, absorbing the pungent aroma and flavor.”

    http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/07/slider-defundefinedion-mini-hamburgers-onions-pickles-steam-awesomeness.html

  • Re: FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside
    posted by: Bren · February 17, 2009  6:01 PM

    loved the joint! meant to do a write up as well, but you’re now the 5th one I’ve seen online, so I don’t think I need to.. but i’m so enticed. great pics! are those from the press kit?

  • Re: FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · February 18, 2009  2:24 PM

    I was pretty behind on my write-up thanks to a computer crash. And thanks for the nice words about the photos. I took them.

  • Re: FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside
    posted by: Sudhir · March 15, 2009  3:05 PM

    IMO, best burgers in town hands down. I had the lamb burger, which was tasty, but the Buthcer’s Cut burger was instant pleasure. Delicious.

  • Re: FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · March 21, 2009  10:51 AM

    Poor man’s Shake Shack. Ripped off concept. Worse execution. Easily 5 better, less expensive burgers in Atl.

  • Re: FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside
    posted by: Ant · May 7, 2009  10:22 AM

    Pros:
    I like the decor of Flip even it’s a little on the modern/hip, but cold feeling.

    The food was great and me and my girlfriend’s burgers were cooked perfectly. I had the Chorizo and the fried egg along with the Mayo really made it.

    Cons:
    The Sweet Potato Tots were basically little pockets of grease in cased in a fried sweet potato shell.

  • Re: FLIP Burger Boutique: Westside
    posted by: Sugar apple · November 4, 2009  4:20 AM

    Wish I'd known about your blog when I was in Atlanta this summer. But I have family there so will be back armed with more info.

    We did eat at Flip and I thought it was good but somewhat uneven. I had the burger with foie gras and it was sort of a yawn. An expensive yawn but I had to try it. The foie melted and was totally lost in the burger. Didn't care for the Krispy Kreme milkshake either.

    But their standard burger was very good. I found some of the fried sides were great and some soggy.

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