The burger: Chef Geoff Hausmann’s “Bottineau Burger” at the Sample Room is one of those half-pound monsters that's easier to navigate with a knife and fork than with two hands. It starts with lean, flavorful, Wisconsin-raised grass-fed beef, ground in-house and nudged on the grill to a sizzling char. It’s one of those thick, cooked-precisely-to-order patties that sprawls across the bun from edge to edge, a right-on calibration of meat and bread.
Hausmann doesn't skimp on the garnishes, starting with a thick slab of sharp Cheddar ("It used to be Gouda, but I feel like everyone just wants Cheddar or American on their burger," said Hausmann). For the bacon portion of the show, Hausmann brines pork belly for two days, then slowly braises it in pork fat, yielding a shimmering, ultra-porky (and ultra-fatty) finish. Buttermilk-blanched fried onions add a crunchy finish. The bun? It's a beauty (from Denny's 5th Avenue Bakery), toasted to a gentle crispiness on the outside, with a milk-enriched softness on the inside. It all works together, like clockwork.
Price: $11 lunch, $12 dinner.
Fries? Included, and they’re fantastic; hand-cut, skin-on, super-crisp and well-seasoned.
Don't miss: Hausmanns’ excellent charcuterie, which he packages in both a la carte options ($5 to $8) and as a platter ($16). The latter is a real doozy, a gorgeous and impressive salute to the goodness that is pork, cleverly complemented with skillfully crafted pickles, mustards, chutneys and marmalades. It's a knockout, and it totally calls back to Hausmann's tenure at Travail Kitchen and Amusements, Robbinsdale's palace of glorious culinary excess. Oh, the bar gets into the act, too, pouring a Midwest craft beer flight ($5) that’s tailored to pair with all that porked-out loveliness.
Reservations: Not accepted, but diners can call an hour before arrival and ask to place their name on the waiting list.
Fun fact: Why “Bottineau”? It’s a salute to early settler Pierre Bottineau, who once owned the land where the Sample Room stands; the neighborhood also bears his name.
Address book: 2124 Marshall St. NE., Mpls., 612-789-0333.
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