Indulgence takes form in many ways. It could be a watch, a day at the spa, or even a burger. However, indulgence needn't be expensive. The ways we indulge are relative and it is definitely possible to do so within our means.
Since national burger month is coming to an end, let's take a look at two very different, but equally indulgent burgers.
In terms of size, both of these burgers are very large. The Food Exchange 's famous Big Baby is well over a pound of food, maybe even close to two pounds.
In contrast, Rugby Grill 's Foie burger clocks in right around a pound.
In either case, the burgers can be shared, though sharing is not explicitly recommended for either.
When I arrived at The Food Exchange on that Wednesday afternoon, I was poised to ask some questions prior to eating my burger. However, I was not aware that The Big Baby is on special on Wednesdays so there was a line about five people deep waiting for their indulgence. My questions, though, “Where do you source your meat?” “What kind of cheese is on the burger?” “How many of the Big Babies have you sold approximately?” aren't important to The Food Exchange's larger cultural purpose, which in my estimation, is to provide a seemingly poor neighborhood with affordable food in a clean atmosphere.
The Big Baby for $7 could feed a family of 3 or 4 easily, especially if you add fries (only $2 more). To be clear, although the portion size is huge, the quality is high. The Food Exchange is not comparable to Tony's off I-75 North with their questionable Man Versus Food portions. Quite the opposite, The Big Baby is approximately one pound of ground beef topped with three kinds of cheese, corned beef, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. It is well seasoned and a messy joy to eat. It's everything a burger should be multiplied times ten. If the weather is nice, there are picnic tables to dine in an open field next to the building.
In what could be described as another world when compared to The Big Baby, Rugby Grill's Foie Burger is extravagance in food form. The burger was created by Chef de Cuisine Damian Yopek upon his arrival to the Rugby.
If you can believe it, the $55 burger sells at an impressive clip – about 50 per week, by Yopek's estimate. Don't immediately scoff at the price tag, even when comparing it to The Big Baby.
Instead consider the ingredients: Wagyu short rib, chuck, and cheek custom blended into a burger patty by Fairway Packing in Eastern Market, truffles, seared foie gras, braised short rib, sweet onion jam, parmesan aioli, and Thomasville Tomme cheese. Every ingredient has been chosen to compliment the other. Even the presentation is special when the burger is brought to the table on a wooden cutting board with a knife in the center of the burger like Excalibur.
The burger is served with phenomenal truffle fries – no truffle oil either, just truffle grated on top. Although these burgers are very different on the surface, the visceral act of eating them is very similar.
Both are much too large to be eaten the traditional way a burger should be. Yet, attempting to take a bite and becoming messy at the same time is quite satisfying. The overabundance of ingredients is another indulgence because by the time the last bite of bun is taken, there is inevitably more meat and toppings waiting on the plate below.
The Big Baby and the Foie Burger are on opposite ends of the price continuum, but they are both wonderfully thrilling to eat. Of course there are literally hundreds of other places to grab a burger – Where's your favorite burger spot?
Food Exchange -
8541 Harper - Detroit, MI 48213 - (313) 579-5616
Rugby Grille -
100 Townsend St, Birmingham, MI 48009 - (248) 642-5999