the spot: NADC Burger Two locations in Austin TX
the eats: NADC burger
the bucks: $16
the full nelson: gOne of the most hyped burgers in Austin TX from a Michelin starred chef
NADC stands for Not a Damn Chance, a burger concept from celebrity chef Philip Frankland Lee. His sushi restaurants, Sushi by Scratch and Pasta bar are LA imports to Austin that have begun opening branches across the country. Lee is a regular on Joe Rogan’s Podcast and he even holds a Michelin star. So what’s up with his $16 smashed burger?
That is the question my friends. I suppose some clarity is in order. First off the burger isn’t billed as a Smashed Burger but it is a double patty with American cheese, some variant of Thousand Island dressing dubbed a secret sauce, thin sliced grilled onions cooked into the patty like an Oklahoma style smashed burger and pickles. According the menu there are jalapeños on there too.
What does that even mean? More importantly, what’s the point? I’m not sure but then again I am someone that loves heat and would never tame a jalapeño which I find fairly mild. The big draw about this burger isn’t the toppings though, it’s this:
So what is Iron Table Farms? I didn’t know either because I had yet to come across it in my burger escapades. Turns out I was close at one point. CM Smokehouse in Austin serves Iron Table Wagyu but when I went, I crossed paths with the elk burger. Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly is a fan too. Per his article in June of this year, he credits NADC for serving him a “Wagyu smashburger whose patty has a sear dreams are made of.” The bottomline is the burger you are getting at NADC is a full blooded Wagyu cattle raised in Texas as opposed to the popular Angus and Wagyu crossbreeds that are often served in Texas as Wagyu.
Given what I just shared about Iron Table Farms, it’s fair to say you are getting an exclusive burger product. If the steaks retail at around $80 a pound(per Texas Monthly) than a 1/3lb burger cooked for you should come at some cost. So let’s breakdown the burger. I’d bet money this bun is a Martin’s Potato roll but it isn’t listed as such. The secret sauce is excellent and the burger eats like it looks: ooey gooey cheeseburger bliss. It’s juicy. But did it scream of Wagyu? Did I taste remarkable beef in a burger? No.
I have a theory: you don’t need premium beef to create a great smashed burger experience. What the experience relies on is technique where the right size patty meets the right sized pressure from a spatula. I’ve found that for well under $12 so I find NADC overpriced but more importantly not as special as the beef certificate proudly displayed would indicate.
I’m curious to go back to see if maybe I had an off cook(the smash was pretty light) or if I can get the burger cooked medium rare and really taste the beef. Then I’m reminded of the secret sauce and American cheese that might overpower the subtle complexities I might expect from this kind of beef. I ponder about ordering it sans cheese, pickles, jalapeños and sauce and rely on onion and beef to do the talking. But modifications aren’t allowed.
Or as they aptly put it in their name: Not a Damn Chance.