by linda hayes | August 11, 2013 | Food & Drink
Our choice for the top grass-fed burger in town: Executive Chef Rob Zack’s Prospect Burger.
Jimmy Buffett sang their praises: “I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57, and french fried potatoes….” Saturday Night Live performed skits around them: “Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!” And fast-food chains permanently etched them into our culinary lexicon with slogans such as “Where’s the beef?”
With the buzz about beef focused on “locally raised” and “hormone-and antibiotic-free” varieties, our mouths water for delectable grass-fed burgers. To help narrow the field of Aspen eateries on board with this trend, we conducted a surreptitious (and delicious) sampling. Here, a few of the best ones to tempt our palates.
At the top of the stack is the Prospect Burger at the new Prospect restaurant in Hotel Jerome (330 E. Main St. 970-429-7610). This bountiful burger (some call it a handful) is the invention of Executive Chef Rob Zack. “I love that Chef is using local Milagro beef and other great ingredients,” says Hotel Jerome General Manager Tony DiLucia. “But he keeps it simple—onions that are seared into the burger, pickles, cheese, the secret sauce [a mayo-mustard-ketchup combo], and a steamed bun.” The fresh sesame-seed brioche roll is courtesy of Executive Pastry Chef Aleece Gallagher.
At Element 47 in The Little Nell (647 E. Durant Ave., 970-920-6330) Executive Chef Robert McCormick’s Wagyu burger lives up to its snazzy new surroundings. “It’s a lighter lunch in my book,” says Sally Spaulding, a spokesperson for Apen Skiing Company. “The omega-3s and unsaturated fat in the Wagyu beef make it healthier.” Served nestled in a house-made pumpkin-seed bun, eight ounces of grass-fed Wagyu beef from Emma Farms are topped with organic tomato, butter lettuce, red onion, aged cheddar, and smoked bacon, with a side of duck-fat fries. Spaulding adds, “My ‘lighter’ lunch quickly slips into the heavier zone, but that’s perfectly fine with me—and I can’t possibly substitute a salad for those fries.”
Ajax Tavern (685 E. Durant Ave., 970-920-6334) Executive Chef Matt O’Neill’s double cheeseburger is an Aspen classic. “It’s infamous,” O’Neill says. “We can’t take it off the menu….There would be some sort of Aspen uprising.” Two three-ounce grilled Milagro Ranch beef patties (each topped with American cheese) are stacked with vine-ripened tomatoes, shredded romaine, and caramelized onion aioli. A gridled Louis Swiss sourdough bun is the finishing touch. O’Neill suggests adding a cone of truffle fries for a complete experience, and enjoying it on the patio while taking in the local scene.
photography by emily chaplin and chris council