We were really, really excited at first when we heard that the good folks behind Cypress Restaurant were opening up a burger joint just down the street from us. Well, once Vertigo Burgers and Fries was up and running, our initial enthusiasm faded into fussy ambivalence. We went there fairly frequently, both because it was nearby and because when everything was going right you could get a fantastic burger there. But far too often, the service was spotty, the place was infuriatingly overcrowded, or the kitchen would botch simple things like cooking patties to a consistent level of doneness. But they have been slowly but steadily amping up their game and improving their consistency, and while the result these days may not be perfect, their better offerings are some of the best burgers in town.
First, let me get it out the way that I am persistently disappointed that Vertigo won’t prepare burgers medium rare. But even with that handicap, they are still making some awesome stuff. (Times have changed at Vertigo—see my update at the bottom of the post!) The picture up top was of a burger special they had the last time we visited, featuring a duck patty on brioche, topped with cherry jam, arugula, and blue cheese. This was a killer sandwich, with a great balance between sweet fruit, tangy cheese, bitter greens, and savory meat. It went particularly well with my favorite Vertigo side, the sweet potato fries with herbed mayo dipping sauce:
I also love their “Round Here” burger, which is an awesome celebration of local ingredients, including grass-fed beef, Sweetgrass Dairy’s green hill cheese, vidalia onions, and locally farmed arugula, topped with “vertigo sauce.”
None of this is to say that we don’t still have beefs with Vertigo (did you see what I did there?). Some of their dishes are just straight-up bad, like the bland, over-salted chilli that Sarah got the last time we went. It is also odd that a burger place would close so early: 9PM is their typical closing time (it is even earlier on Sundays), and as a result I am often unable to get one of their burgers when I am having the sort of late-night craving that most calls for one.
And let me just reiterate that it is infuriating that a place focusing on high-quality, locally sourced beef won’t serve it even medium rare! So Vertigo has plenty of room for improvement. But still, when you combine their creative burger menu, some of their better sides, and the beer selection, the combination can be tempting despite those faults.
UPDATE (July 2013): One of our readers wrote in to mention that Vertigo had changed their policy. If you ask, they will cook burgers to temperatures below medium (which was not the case when I started going there early on). This removes one of my biggest complaints about the establishment. Last time I went, I got a medium-rare burger that was nicely charred on the outside but still pink and juicy in its interior. So that is one blow for freedom and delicious ground beef!