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A big-bucks burger

The Tri-Beef Burger costs $100. Says the owner of the Boca Raton restaurant offering it: “Everybody can afford $100.”

By TAMARA LUSH
Published June 20, 2006


BOCA RATON — Would you pay $100 for a hamburger?

Marc Sherry is betting that a lot of folks will. He’s the owner of the Old Homestead Steak House, with locations in New York, Atlantic City and now the tony South Florida enclave of Boca Raton.

On Tuesday, Sherry unveiled the Tri-Beef Burger, calling it, variously, the “Beluga caviar of sandwiches,” the “Rolls-Royce of burgers” and the “Romeo and Juliet of food.”

Hmm. Marketing ploy? Or venial sin?

Here’s the beef: The burger contains three kinds of it, from three continents — from corn-fed American Prime cattle from Colorado, free-range cattle from the Argentine pampas and Japanese Wagyu cattle that were raised on soybeans and beer, then bathed in sake and hand-massaged.

For Tuesday’s official first tasting, the beef was flown into Fort Lauderdale, then driven to the restaurant in a climate-controlled, armored stretch Hummer limo. The restaurant’s chefs unloaded the plastic-wrapped meat, hoisting the heavy packages on their shoulders and carrying them into the kitchen. While TV cameras and reporters looked on, the chefs carefully ground the meat onto a silver platter and formed it into several 20-ounce burgers.

“Almost the size of a softball,” said Sherry.

The burger is fried in about 8 ounces of grape seed oil —“It’s healthier,” said Joe Galison, chef de cuisine — and then nestled onto a toasted Brioche bun and topped with heirloom tomatoes, exotic mushrooms and organic micro greens.

Cheese is optional, and Galison would recommend some crumbled Maytag Blue (no additional cost). Fries are not included.

Unlike at another famous burger joint, one cannot “have it your way” at the Old Homestead Steak House. You must have it Marc Sherry’s way. He has instructed the wait staff to not give diners knives and forks to delicately slice the burger, which measures 51/2 inches across and 21/2 inches thick.

“I want you to have fun,” he said. (The mayor of Boca Raton did seem to enjoy the burger, getting it on his hands, chin and nose. He ate the whole thing.)

Sherry also would discourage people from slathering mayo, mustard or ketchup on the burger.

“That would be a no-no,” he said. If you would like to enhance the flavor of the burger, Sherry suggests using his special Chipotle sauce mixed with white truffles and champagne. He also recommends washing the whole thing down with a glass of Joseph Phelps Insignia Cabernet. Cost: $60.

A glass.

This is one of the few places in the country that serves such an expensive burger; another New York City restaurant serves a $120 burger, but it is stuffed with foie gras, braised short ribs and black truffles, and it is available only during truffle season. (It is not truffle season right now.)

The burger is an exclusive for the Old Homestead Steak House, which is located at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. The restaurant serves only resort guests and club members, but you can have the burger shipped via FedEx.

“I don’t anticipate any price resistance to this burger,” Sherry said. “Everybody can afford $100.”

Sure, everyone who goes to the Boca Raton Resort and Club, where it costs $179 to stay one night in the hotel (cheapest room, low season) and $45,000 for a lifetime membership.

But if you work at the McDonald’s a few miles from the resort, you would need to toil behind the grill for 15 hours (at the starting wage of $6.50 an hour) to afford the burger.

Everyone, indeed.

Researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this story. Tamara Lush can be reached at 727-893-8612 or at lush@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 20, 2006, 22:26:06]


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