We are in the grips of burger mania. They come at us as fast food and gourmet grinds, as sliders, as mini-burgers, as mega-burgers, burgers stacked, packed and extreme. We get them fried, griddled, steamed, flame-broiled, char-broiled and seared.
They are rolling through our culinary landscape like the aftershocks of an earthquake. And now, in Mount Pleasant, we have Vino Burgerz, an emporium to the humble burger where you can have a simple grind of chuck, brisket and short rib ($7) or the complex "Mr. Big Shot" ($24) gilded with foie gras and quail eggs.
Vino Burgerz shares its space with Wine Awhile. This allows them to parlay the extensive craft beer and wine assortment with the burger-centric menu of Vino Burgerz.
Wine Awhile uses the Napa Technology Wine Station system that pours about 24 wines by the taste, half-glass and full glass. For the diner, you can sample small portions of many wines or enjoy your favorite Zinfandel or Pinot grigio with your burger of choice.
Vino Burgerz not only serves a beef burger but also grinds lamb, turkey and pork to complete a burger portfolio. A house-smoked salmon burger ($10) can be had with fried capers, onions, a hard-cooked egg and dill aioli, as well as a portobello burger ($9) for meatless choices.
The cheeses (14) and toppings (16) are extensive, and each burger comes with lettuce, tomato and a side of Russet fries, sweet potato fries or a small salad.
The kitchen cures its own bacon and the meat for the burgers is ground fresh daily. The menu comes complete with a suggested pairing of beer or wine, a nice addition.
A daily slider special is offered and you can mix and match the flavors.
Ambition fuels the menu. Onion rings ($6) are battered and fried and served with a stout "jus" that mimics French onion soup, complete with drooling bits of cheese. Roasted pork belly percolates through a simple artichoke dip ($6).
The house specialty burgers are riffs on classic sandwich dishes, such as the ground pork topped with rapini and pork gravy ($10.50), the Sicilian topped with smoked mozzarella and marinara sauce, or the lamb burger ($11) with feta, yogurt, Kalamata olives, cucumbers and peppers. Kudos to the kitchen for the variety it offers and trafficking closely to the condiment country of origin.
However, in the blueprint for the architecture of a burger, the foundation is critical. And for a burger, that foundation is the bun and it is here where Vino Burgerz misses the mark.
You do not want a mess when you pick up the burger. Some sweet meat juice dribbling down your chin, yes, but having the insides of your patty leap out from the protective shelter of the bun, no way. Possibly if they removed the crumb from inside the bun, the burger and its toppings would meld into the recesses so created.
But as it is now, getting your mouth around the burger and enjoying those layers of flavors and ingredients (that it is clear the kitchen cares about) is a challenge. In fact, getting the bun wrong is a bit of burger blasphemy. With all the mash-ups of cuisines and ingredients fleshing out the menu, being served on faulty anatomy makes for, well, a mess.
So bring on the burger technicians and go back to the drawing boards for bun basics 101 and do justice to all those condiments, sauces, aged, heirloom, smoked and fried toppings.
The space of the restaurant is in a former Italian deli. Although it has been painted a warm claret and wood from cases of wine panel the open kitchen, it feels barren. The wine prints, oversized cutlery and sprays of sunflowers in wall-mounted vases do little to anchor the burger mission and create a casual dining environment.
Vino Burgerz also suffers from serious issues with its venting system, which was addressed at the time of our visit by opening the doors. Hopefully, that has been corrected by now.
Service was polite, informed and attentive.
Vino Burgerz provides us a global burger experience. Just get that bun right and they will have a competitive edge in more ways than one.
Cuisine: BurgersCategory: Neighborhood FavoriteLocation: 1039 S.C. Highway 41, Suite 200, Mount PleasantHours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.Food: 2 1/2Service: 2Atmosphere: 2Price: $Costs: Appetizers $3-$10, salads $10, burgers $9-$11, specialty burger $24, children's menu $3-$4, desserts $5-$7, build-your-own desserts $7 plus 50 cents-$1 for add-ons.Vegetarian Options: LimitedWheelchair Accessible: YesBar: Beer and wineParking: Station 41 shopping center lotOther: Facebook, twitter, www.vinoburgerz.com, www.wineawhile.com. Take-out, 881-3155. Daily specials, daily soup. Newsletter at wineawhile.com.