If you build a burger, we will come.
That seems to be the thought process behind Shaun Doty and Erik Maier’s Yeah Burger in West Midtown, a latecomer to Atlanta’s burger explosion. And if you stop in during peak lunch hours, it seems they were right.
All the pieces for a top-notch burger experience are in place: Culinary pedigree? Check. High quality, grass-fed beef? Check. Flavorful toppings? Check.
But as any good chef will tell you, ingredients are only half of the battle.
Guests order at the counter, take a number, and seat themselves, either on the spacious patio or in the dining room. The step-by-step menu allows for a lot of customization and, depending on your toppings, the price escalates quickly. You start with the patty ($5.99-$7.99) and build from there. Cheese adds $1, as do “premium toppings” such as a fried egg, bacon, and avocado.
For those watching their pocketbooks, I recommend making the most of the free toppings and sauces. Opting for bacon jam — caramelized pieces, glazed in molasses — instead of the slice of bacon saves $1 without compromising on flavor. Over the course of five visits, my bills ranged from $13.50 to $25, depending on my sides ($2.49) and if I opted for a $5.49 soft-serve milkshake.
Sides include burger-joint staples such as fries, onion rings, and the less standard fried pickles. While the fries lack crispiness and the pickles need seasoning, the thinly sliced onion rings do not disappoint. The roundly seasoned, never-soggy batter compliments and highlights the natural onion flavor. In his onion rings, Doty left no room for improvement.
The beef patty, however, is another story.
The 1/3 pound of grass-fed beef comes as two thin griddle style patties, cooked to at least medium well. If you want your burger medium or medium rare, you are most likely out of luck. Unfortunately, cooking the leaner grass-fed beef past medium burns off what little fat is in the meat, taking with it all of the extra flavor and health advantages it holds over the grain-fed alternative.
Except for one slow afternoon where I talked my server into cooking it to medium, every burger arrived well done: Completely grey, mostly dry, and under seasoned. Fattier grain-fed beef is much more forgiving. But to cook thin grass-fed beef to well done without sacrificing moisture simply cannot be accomplished in a high volume, fast-paced kitchen.
The veggie burger, made with organic Sea Island red peas, doesn’t offer a much better alternative for the vegetarian crowd. The mushy patty screams for seasoning. The bison burger, however, brings a single thick slab. Juicier and more flavorful than the beef, this stands out as the strongest offering on the menu.
Thanks to the quality of the toppings, a good burger can still be found at Yeah!, despite the shortcomings of the meat. Stack enough flavor and moisture on top and you’ll leave satisfied. Topped with pepper jack, grilled onions, pickles, bacon jam, fried egg, and garlic aioli, the doneness becomes almost irrelevant.
Ultimately, the hardcore burger lovers out there may find that Yeah Burger feels a little phoned-in. Others may find it a worthwhile option in the neighborhood.Yeah Burger 1168 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-496-4393 Food: Burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, and sides. Full bar. Gluten-free buns/fries/onion rings also available Service: Friendly, but can be unaccommodating when crowded. Average of 10-15 minutes between ordering and delivery to the table Best dishes: Bison burger with pepper jack, grilled onions, pickles, bacon jam, fried egg, and garlic aioli with a side of buttermilk onion rings Vegetarian selections: Veggie burger, several salads, and most sides Price range: $-$$ Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Hours: 11a.m-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. (or later), Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday Children: Yes Parking: In lot, or in White Provisions parking deck nearby. Reservations: No Wheelchair access: Yes Smoking: No Noise level: Moderate Patio: Yes Takeout: Yes