Burgers aren’t normally found in boutiques.
Boutiques are places for sequin dresses, sparkly jewelry and trendy shoes. They feature the latest fashions and things like glittery stilettos. Patrons of boutiques aren’t shopping for burgers, but Flip Burger Boutique just might change their minds.
Prior to a day of exploring pretty parks in Birmingham, my friend and I rolled into town famished and on the hunt for dinner. She insisted we eat at Flip Burger Boutique, her only restaurant request for the weekend, and I was happy to oblige.
Flip Burger Boutique is brought to us by chef Richard Blais, a former Top Chef reality t.v. cooking show winner who started these restaurants in Atlanta, Ga. Top Chef isn’t part of my regularly scheduled programs (Boardwalk Empire all the way), but my friend is a big fan.
Pulling into Birmingham late on a Friday night, we made a beeline to the restaurant and window-shopped while waiting to be seated. Thirty minutes later we slithered through a bustling throng of young hipsters and were shown to the back of the house. The room is split by a long line of tables in the middle, flanked by a row of padded booths on one side and bar stools on the other.
Much like a boutique the space is small and stylish, but mercifully absent of full length mirrors. The furnishing are white and a large avant-garde mural decorates the expanse of the ceiling. Settling into our narrow area we began the menu examination.
Being a traditionalist, it was hard to resist the classic beef burger and french fries combination. There are plenty of unusual options to consider such as a raw steak tartare burger, blackened shrimp burger and sweet potato tots sprinkled with chocolate salt and marshmallow foam. Swept up in the excitement of having so many unique variations to choose from, I selected the Butcher’s Cut burger and Thai Bouli Couscous. (My friend had the Ossobucco Burger and roasted brussel sprouts.)
Perched on a toasted bun, the petite burger was piled high with bleu cheese, caramelized onions, frisee and red wine jam. Far from the super-sized servings of what we Americans have come to expect, the meat patties are 5.5 ounces. The burger was perfectly cooked and a lovely balance of sweet and savory. And a refreshing change from fried potatoes, the couscous had a nice chewy bite, lightly flavored with coconut, mint, cucumber and red onion.
It was a challenge, but I resisted ordering a vintage, 100% cane sugar Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper in favor of splitting a Nutella and Burnt Marshmallow milkshake to round out our meal. Good thing I didn’t cave, because the milkshake was decadently thick and playfully topped with a mound of charred mini-marshmallows. (I wish the marshmallows were more camp-fire gooey, c’est la vie.) It would have been easy to finish off one by myself. Then boutique clothes would certainly be out of the question.
Infamous for using liquid nitrogen to rapid cool drinks and creative burger toppings like seared foie gras, Flip Burger Boutique employs some slightly theatrical elements. The place feels fashionable, the food is hip and you might pay more than you expected. The boutique description then seems rather fitting.
Flip Burger Boutique
214 Summit Blvd, Suite 140
Birmingham, AL 35243
The majority of our days were spent in the four parks…oh, and standing in lines, riding on buses, and dodging strollers. We had no set schedule, so when hunger hit I wanted to be able to suggest a good place to eat in the vicinity. To maximize our limited dining opportunities, I came up with best bets for each park.
|The Magic Kingdom section on my food list
|Name||What to get|
|Aloha Isle||dole whip|
|Columbia Harbour House||tuna sandwich meal|
|Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe||rotisserie chicken, ribs, or brisket|
|Pecos Bill Café||burger bar|
|Sleepy Hollow (Liberty Square)||chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich|
|Main Street Bakery||dessert, cinnamon roll|
|Plaza Ice Cream Parlor||ice cream sundae|
Note: Click the name of the quick service restaurant to view their menu.
We hit three out of seven:
Sleepy Hollow: Liberty Square
One of the top snacks on my list was a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. I love everyone of those words.
Marching up to the Sleepy Hollow counter I nearly had a heart attack because this item isn’t labeled with a snack symbol on the menu. But it never hurts to ask questions and the cashier reassured me it qualifies as a snack. Disaster avoided.
These babies are pure made-to-order heaven. Generous scoops of hand-dipped ice cream (your choice of vanilla or the flavor of the day) are cradled between two large freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. It’s a fantastic use of a snack credit and is big enough to split. Please, do us both a favor and get one.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: Futureland
Following a spin on Space Mountain Friday night, we ate at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe for dinner. It was late, cold and the closest place on my list. There was no talking Ben and his brother into trekking across the park to Pecos Bill Cafe in Frontierland. Earlier in the day we passed Columbia Harbour House, but just had gigantic ice cream sandwiches.
Cosmic Ray’s has three “bays” to order from featuring chicken, burgers or sandwiches. The rotisserie chicken and ribs located in Bay 1 are popular entrees that come with potatoes and veggies, but we had chicken and ribs for lunch. (Finding repeated entrees is common among the parks.) I ended up ordering a Deluxe Angus Cheeseburger, french fries, a Diet Coke and apple slices from Bay 2. In hindsight I should have gotten the Greek Salad from Bay 3.
Apparently the addition of guacamole and bacon turns a plain food service patty into a deluxe burger. In reality it was fairly standard and a little dry. There also is a toppings bar where you can pile on sauteed onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and condiments which helped. The cashier was nice enough to let me have apple slices instead of cake. I was dying for something fresh and healthy, which is why I regretted not getting the salad.
Aloha Isle: Adventureland
Another notorious snack available only at Disney is the Dole Whip. The Dole Whip kept popping up in my research and has an impressive fan following.
Sunday morning we hiked to Aloha Isle because it’s never too early for soft-serve. I used another snack credit and got a Dole Whip float with pineapple soft-serve and pineapple juice. Again, it was large enough to share.
The pineapple soft-serve is surprisingly tart, especially when paired with pineapple juice. Ben got a pineapple and vanilla swirl which was a better balance of sweet and tart. They also offer an orange version which I bet tastes like a dreamscicle when mixed with vanilla. It was refreshing and perfect on a warm day.
The Dole Whip and chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich are great snack options well worth the effort. Cosmic Ray’s was only okay. The Pecos Bill Cafe is a burger bar known for their toppings, but I’m not sure if it’s much different than Cosmic Ray’s. Supposedly the Columbia Harbour House is a small, quiet place to get a good sandwich and people like Casey’s Corner for their hot dog combo meals. The Main Street Bakery was always packed and I didn’t have room when we passed the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. If you want a sweet treat, the Magic Kingdom has you covered.
Friday night rolled around and our refrigerator was still bare of any fresh fruits, vegetables or meats. No grocery store fairy made a visit to our apartment to magically fill our pitiful kitchen. If there was one, I would have made a very convincing plea or at least left out our empty tissue boxes and medications as evidence of our need.
A residual effect from being sick was that we still had not been to the grocery store. And we couldn’t bring ourselves to eat soup again. My husband in fact started a one man revolt against the chicken noodle soup.
These factors added up to surrendering our wills one last time (yes, we can get tired of eating out) and calling Char for take-out. I have not dined at the actual restaurant yet, but my husband claimed that their burger was worth a shot.
I called in our order of two char hamburgers, one with Tillabrook cheddar cheese and bacon cooked medium-well, one cooked well. Twenty minutes later we were on our way to Char, I ran in to collect our dinner, and we made it back home with a bag filled with four containers of food.
The burgers were great, but the meat patty was kind of smokey which overwhelmed the whole sandwich. On the upside, the burgers included red onion, tomato, lettuce, ketchup, a pickle spear and generous portions of house cut french fries. The total of our take-out meal was $23 (I rounded up). It was satisfying and hopefully we can eat at the restaurant sometime to see what else they have to offer, it is on my list after all.
Since this incident, I took a field trip to my local Kroger where I made a contribution to the economy to the tune of $175. It was worth every penny. This week we’ve had salmon, sugar snap peas and mashed potatoes, and fish tacos with mango salsa, black beans and cilantro rice. We have prevailed over our sickness and life has resumed to our version of normal.
4500 I-55 North, Suite 142
Jackson, MS 39211