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It was an all out blood sugar crash. I had only eaten a sad office doughnut for breakfast, and then skipped lunch. On the train ride home, I became dizzy. My skin broke into a sweat. I needed a burger immediately.
BlackFinn was the first restaurant I spotted after exiting the Farragut West Metrorail station. Walking to the back of the bar through a sea of young, loud, professionals in suits and ties, I grabbed a stool. My bartender, professional though green, handed me a menu and told me everything was good. I ordered beef sliders and a Budweiser, which I nursed greedily like a kitten.
Mini burgers have become a cornerstone of many bar food menus. Posh restaurants perch tender, tiny patties of meat on custom baked buns so small they’re cute. Duffy’s offers a variety of meats including turkey and roast beef on pillowy, faux brioche buns. They’re the perfect size, maybe three to four bites apiece. BlackFinn however, approaches sliders like corporate America’s next super-size me.
These sliders reminded me of a toddler wearing his father’s clothes. Diminutive patties sat on much larger buns (just shy of full size) like feet in oversized shoes. The crowning potato roll was a suit coat dragging on the floor. They looked silly. And I wish they tasted better.
The meat’s desiccated exterior reminded me of over-cooked falafel, encasing a dry but beefy center. Sautéed onions added flavor, but I’d be eating sawdust if not for the cup of au jus served on the side for dipping. I asked the bartender if they cooked sliders to medium rare, and he said he’d try, but noted they always come out well done. I wondered if a fire-breathing dragon worked the grill.
By 8 o’clock, the place still bustled and those working late continued to pour in. From over my shoulder, I listened to a table sing “Happy Birthday.” Some woman named Meredith was turning 32, though she told a stranger she wished it was her 28th. Her boyfriend brought in a cake for the celebration. Meredith looked liked she enjoyed her food much more than I did.
Photo by Scott Reitz