Flip Burger Boutique was this week’s stop of the Birmingham Lunch Club. 3 bros (Greg could not make it) cruised past the Cheesecake Factory and the Juicy Couture store to get to Flip Burger Boutique. On to the reviews…
Joey: I picked Flip Burger for this week’s BLC stop. Since opening about 2 years ago at The Summit shopping mall, this modest eatery has featured “a menu that redefines what we’ve come to think a hamburger should be.” Based on their diverse menu options, it seems Flip Burger is succeeding at their mission. So I was excited to go to a nice, clean restaurant with one of the best locations in Birmingham. So I was very surprised to learn that the back section of Flip Burger is currently closed due to an ant infestation. Though, being familiar with Top Chef’s Richard Blais‘ work I was even more surprised to not see an Ant Burger on the menu. I think he should be taking advantage of that very locally sourced food. What was on the menu was a nice $10 prix fixe lunch special. For that $10, I was able to get a burger, a side salad and a soda. The side Caesar salad looked and tasted nice, though some of the lettuce was browning. The burger was perfect and the waitress kept my glass of Coke filled on a hot day. Because of the record temperatures, I decided to order a Strawberry Shortcake milk shake for dessert. Flip Burger makes very unique milk shakes (I passed on the cap’n crunch shake) using liquid nitrogen to freeze the top into a really cool frozen shell cover. This time one of the waitresses dropped the liquid nitrogen container, spilling LN2 all over the Flip Burger floor. THIS WAS AWESOME! Highlight of my meal. The milkshake was a good choice on this hot summer day. I don’t know if it’s worth $5, but it was a good milkshake. Flip Burger can make for a surprisingly affordable, unique lunch for anyone willing to venture through the soccer mothers’ SUVs at The Summit. Overall rating 4.5 out of 5 BROS
Brad: My closest friends and family know that FLIP Burger has long been my favorite restaurant in the city. I was pumped when I heard Joey’s selection this week. It is important, though, as a reviewer, you do not let previous experiences influence you. I went in fresh and with an open mind.
Joey informed us there was a lunch special. This was news to me as I have only eaten FLIP at dinner. The options for the lunch special were limited: Fauxlafel, Classic or Turkey Burger. For those who do not know, FLIP’s menu may leave you questioning any choice with some of the descriptions (sweet tea and lemon sauce; vodka mustard; fried eggs; etc.). One of the reasons I have been a fan of FLIP is that the first four or five times I visited, I tried a new burger and was left overly satisfied, despite the risk involved. This visit was no exception. Rather than pay full price for the rBQ, Butcher’s Cut or Ossobuco and their unique ingredients, I elected to go with the Classic – meat, lettuce, tomato and pickles. I ordered a side of sweet potato tots. The burger did not disappoint. While I felt I may be left wanting more after eating a pedestrian burger as opposed to my previously-mentioned favorites, that was far from the case. The sweet potato tots were delicious (minus the bleu cheese foam – something I have never enjoyed, even as a bleu cheese fan. It tastes like plastic and ruins the tots). I elected to stay with water as the record-highs were not conducive to soda consumption. I treated myself to a Nutella milkshake, complete with roasted marshmallows on top – the pinnacle of desserts I have ever eaten. Our server was great, too. The only downside was the price. The special was $10 and the milkshake an additional $5, plus tip.
While FLIP is my favorite restaurant, it’s tough to justify it as a “lunch stop.” By going with the special, you are saving a few bucks; but you are also doing yourself a disservice by not choosing one of their many delicious gourmet options. If this were dinner, it would be a 5-bro. But with the Summit providing its typical parking problems, even midday on Friday, and the price being a bit steep for lunch, FLIP fell just short. OVERALL RATING 4 out of 5 BROS
Blake: Flip Burger is now offering what I believe to be a “new” lunch menu. Maybe it’s been there a while. In any case, it’s a thing, theoretically providing more affordable options for a lunchtime crowd. The snag with this is that it’s limited – just three main course options are available. And still, even with the $10 price and nothing added to an order, it’s going to be $13 or so after tax and tip. So let’s not pretend this is affordable.
So I had two options: settle for something I wasn’t wild about to slightly cut down on expense, or get something I was really intrigued by and spend a little more cash. As it was payday, I opted for the latter. I chose the Raw Steak Tartare burger, which included, per the menu, hand-chopped tenderloin, fried egg, garlic, chili, capers, cornichons, pickled shailot, frisee and smoked mayo. I added sweet potato tots on the side and had a water. In full disclosure, this burger is the second most expensive on the menu, and the total for a burger and side came out to $16.50. I gave our waitress a $20 bill and told her to keep the change. Also, in full disclosure, while it is the most expensive burger on the menu, it’s only about $3 more than the least expensive.
This place is impossible to grade. Some of my colleagues in this highly scientific and widely read blog contend that cost is not a factor. I contend that it is one of the two most important things when choosing a place to eat. So I guess we have differences when it comes to how we judge, but I also suppose that’s why we have a diverse panel with eclectic taste.
The upside is that the burger was fantastic. I’m not sure I had ever had raw steak tartare. There was a moment I think I felt my heart stop and I got a little dizzy, but maybe that was paranoia. I don’t know what most of the other words are that were on the burger, but the smoked mayo and fried egg were terrific. The fried egg got very messy as I took my first bite, but I’m a sucker for fried egg on a burger. I’m not sure I tasted chili, but the menu says its there. The sweet potato tots were okay, but like everything, a little steep at $4. I left completely satisfied, and the service was above average.
The downside is that it is stupid expensive. And Brad, as a Flip Burger connoisseur, was already greasing the wheels before we ordered, “You guys have to realize this isn’t a place you typically get lunch.”
But his point is valid. While there is a lunch menu and the place was full, it’s not a place you get lunch. This is a place you would take a date. A date who loves hamburgers that you are trying to impress. The problem is, the woman that I date would much prefer a #1 from Wendy’s or Milo’s. I realize that isn’t universal, but I think in the history of women that I have been around, it’s close. My other problem is, I prefer local, and there are a myriad of better burger options at much more affordable prices in Birmingham.
I’m not going to deduct as much as I probably would have, because while Brad WAS campaigning right there inside the polling place and that IS illegal, I’ll welcome his very valid point. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s still overpriced for lunch OR dinner. This is the type of place you go out to celebrate something minor happening in your life, like your kid finishing 5th grade or finishing that shelving project you had in the garage. The spirit of this whole project, to me, has always been finding dives – a nice local joint to get lunch at a price that isn’t going to kill your weekly budget. And as a BLC stop, I can’t give this a higher grade. OVERALL RATING 3.5 bros out of 5 BROS
COMPOSITE BRO SCORE 4 out of 5 BROS