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One Great Sandwich: Graham Elliot's "Sexy Burger"

By Chuck Sudo in Food on May 8, 2009 4:00PM

Yesterday's episode of "The Cheeseburger Show" ended with Kevin Pang challenging Graham Elliot Bowles to place his indelible stamp on the cheeseburger. The result was something that could easily have been the product of a three-year-old's imagination, if that toddler had the kitchen skills of Bowles.

Dubbed the "Sexy Burger," I had to try it out for myself last night and was lucky enough to order the first one. Bowles is offering this $15 exercise in gluttony at his eponymous River North bistro (217 W. Huron, 312-624-9975) through tomorrow only. Don't bitch about the price, because odds are you'll wait in line for over an hour at Kuma's and most of the burgers on that menu are in the same price range.

What are you getting for that $15? The "Sexy Burger" is panko-crusted, deep-fried ground beef tenderloin, served on Texas Toast slathered with aioli containing bits of Johnsonville pork breakfast sausage, with a mushroom and onion ragout, cheddar, Tabasco-spiked ketchup, seasoned tomatoes, a fried egg and three homemade tater tots that are a meal in themselves. For all the extreme elements at play here, this burger actually works well. More than any other menu item Bowles offers, this one epitomizes the fun aspect he's been trying to achieve with his food since opening almost a year ago. It seemed fitting that Ween's "Push the Little Daisies" was playing over the house sond system as a server slid the plate under my nose.

After finishing the burger (waste not, want not), mixologist Lyn House handed me the dessert menu mainly out of professional courtesy, but I also suspect there was a touch of sadism at work. This masochist just wanted to go straight to bed.