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When I first heard, via this NBC Washington report, that former Top Chef contestant Richard Blais was going to open a burger joint in D.C., I immediately thought: God, it’s come to this. Chefs are following Spike Mendelsohn‘s lead.

But then I looked further into Blais’ concept at Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta, the hamburger joint with the pretentious name and the cool concept. The operation combines Blais’ affection for molecular gastronomy with the foodstuff that Washingtonians seem to love more than even Wimpy does.

The molecular gastronomy side of Flip seems, for the most part, limited to the milkshake section of the menu (PDF), where the creamy drinks are flash frozen with liquid nitrogen and come in oddball flavors such as Krispy Kreme and (I kid you not) foie gras. Here’s what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Meridith Ford wrote in her (I kid you not) four-star review of Flip:

The milkshakes, all quick-frozen with “LN2” (liquid nitrogen), are brought to the table trailing a cloudlike fog. The most talked-about flavor is the creamy Krispy Kreme concoction (yes, it tastes exactly like drinking a KK doughnut, only very cold), but the best flavor is the groovy green pistachio laced with white truffles. Drink them with a meal, or order them for dessert.

Other than the shakes, the menu reads like an after-hours bet on who could create the funkiest burger ever. There are some creative patties here, from the Tartare burger (hanger steak with garlic, chili, capers, Worcestershire, pickled onion, frisée, smoked mayo, and a sous- vide egg yolk), the Korean (Wagyu beef and short rib with kimchi ketchup, pickled veggies, and crispy tempura onion), and the Ossobuco (veal patty with braised veal, gremolata mayo, braised ketchup, and crispy fried onions).

(A side question: Just what the hell is braised ketchup?)

Again from Ford with the AJC:

Beyond that, this jazzy joint is more fun than a barrel of burgers, which are beef, house-ground of short ribs, hangar steak and brisket. The mix makes them fattier — and juicier — than a burger made with leaner meat.

Smaller than average, but certainly larger than sliders, the size encourages ordering more than one — and so does the price (ranging from $6.50 to $11). Think of them as — dare I say it? — tapas burgers. Take a group of friends. Take your kids (there are always kids in this dining room). Take your wife. Your boss. Take a first date.

Then try as many of these little round marvels as you can wrap your chops around: a country-fried burger smeared with tangy pimento cheese and topped with house-made pickles dipped in house-made ketchup; a Japanese Kobe burger crowned with seared foie gras, truffle butter, bread-and-butter pickles, onion-and-red-wine jam and frisee; a “pate melt” of ground veal and pork sandwiched with Dijon and cornichons. What fun.

Could this place give Ray’s Hell Burgers a run for its money as the metro area’s most popular hamburger? Blais tells NBC Washington that he plans to open a Flip Burger Boutique in the Verizon Center area (aka Penn Quarter) next spring.