The Burger Club

4300 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 150, Atlanta

No one really knows the origin of the hamburger. The idea of placing a ground beef patty — fried, grilled, or otherwise — between a retrofitted bun has been attributed to everything from Hamburg, Germany, to the 1904 World’s Fair. The idea isn’t exactly novel, so it’s reasonable to assume that it proliferated simultaneously in lots of places where having a handy, tasty sandwich was a commodity.

Now the burger joint is multiplying all at once all over Atlanta. The trend here started with Flip Burger Boutique, after versions of decidedly upscale burgers — most notably from Daniel Boulud in New York — began a pre-recession trend. Made with foie gras and tenderloin, and stacked with truffles on a brioche bun, these were the Cadillac of burgers, and cost upwards of $35. It was all part of a wave of bistro backlash, where dishes of undistinguished origin began to replace those of classic European pedigree, elevating that ground beef patty to filet mignon status. Now it’s not just the burger that’s jumped to the front of the culinary caste system, it’s the burger joint. And Atlanta has quite a few from which to pick.

Richard Blais and Barry Mills opened Flip with the precision timing of a Burns and Allen comedy act — the recession hadn’t completely arrived and people were out spending lots of disposable income. While Flip’s burgers aren’t the Boulud burger, they are still they most inventive and interesting of Atlanta’s burger brood. Holeman & Finch began offering a special burger sold only at 10 p.m. to the sound of a bell. Enter Grindhouse Burgers, The Counter and The Burger Club in Vinings, offering varying degrees of meat and mayhem.

The latter is a venture, opened before almost all the others (in 2005) from chef Paul Albrecht of Paul’s Restaurant and Social Vinings and his sons, Patrick and Chris. Situated in the heart of Vinings Jubilee, it’s a casual stopping place for families and shoppers looking for a meat fix that’s better than fast food but shy of the flashiness of Flip.

The item most people will walk away talking about, whether they try a bite of it or not, is what’s called the “artery annihilator,” a bacon cheeseburger set between a toasted Krispy Kreme doughnut. The winning combination of meat and sugar, especially with bacon, shouldn’t be a surprise. Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup taste good, so why shouldn’t this burger? And it does. It is, however, the kind of thing that’s fun and decadent while you’re eating it, but hard not to regret once you’ve finished.

The rest of the menu is a standard mix of recognizable oddities — Tater Tots loaded with cheese, jalapenos, bacon chives and drizzles of sour cream, outrageously huge and crispy onion rings, and smoked corn dogs of the mini variety with a not-too-tangy honey mustard for dipping. Of course, there are the obligatory salads that allow the restaurant to claim that not everything served is deep fried or between a bun.

It’s best to stick with the burgers and shakes. Like most burger palaces, The Burger Club allows you to choose between Angus or Kobe beef, plus a tuna steak, lamb, turkey and bison. And like most places, beef is among the best offerings, whether topped simply with bacon, red onion marmalade and Roquefort cheese, or loaded down with fried shrimp and a slab of cheese. The lamb burger is the most inventive and best on the menu; stacked with tzitziki sauce, feta cheese, thin cucumbers and sliced tomatoes, it’s served between grilled pita slices rather than a bun.

Then there are the milk shakes. For kids, there are plenty of choices, from chocolate to peach, plus floats of all sorts. For adults, there are triple-X-loaded shakes that are so much better than any of the desserts (which seem like they came from a box). Start with a creamsicle and end with a chocolate milk shake with espresso-flavored vodka.

Between a milk shake and a burger between a Krispy Kreme doughnut, you won’t need to eat for days.

The Burger Club

Overall rating:

Food: Burgers and such

Service: Young, prompt and very courteous

Price range: $-$$

Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover

Hours of operation: Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Best dishes: Artery annihilator burger, lamb burger, onion rings, loaded milk shakes

Vegetarian selections: Black bean burger, salads

Children: Absolutely

Parking: Adjacent lot

Reservations: Call ahead for parties of six or more

Wheelchair access: Yes

Smoking: No

Noise level: Medium

Patio: Yes

Takeout: Yes

Address, telephone: 4300 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 150, Atlanta, 678-888-9036

Web site: www.greatfoodinc.com/The_Burger_Club/Home.html

Pricing code: $$$$$ means more than $75; $$$$ means $75 and less; $$$ means $50 and less; $$ means $25 and less; $ means $15 and less. The price code represents a typical full-course meal for one excluding drinks.

Key to AJC ratings

Outstanding

Sets the standard for fine dining in the region.

Excellent

One of the best in the Atlanta area.

Very good

Merits a drive if you're looking for this kind of dining.

Good

A worthy addition to its neighborhood, but food may be hit and miss.

Fair

Food is more miss than hit.

Restaurants that do not meet these criteria may be rated Poor.

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