Hold the pickles
Hold the lettuce
Special orders don’t upset us
All we ask is that you let us serve it your way
In 1974, Burger King introduced its most successful and long-standing advertising campaign, the heart of which was “Have It Your Way,” a catchy jingle designed to contrast just how flexible Burger King is compared to its largest competitor, the ubiquitous McDonalds. The earworm-inspiring jingle told us we could have burgers made especially for us—tailor-made, customized, prepared any way we want them. It implied that unlike its rigid and inflexible competitor, Burger King recognizes our uniqueness and they celebrate it with burgers that reflect our individuality, lifestyles and dietary considerations. There are, Burger King tells us, 221,184 ways to have the Whopper made our way.
It’s hard to fathom that nearly a quarter-million combinations are possible from a burger whose basic constituents are a flame-grilled quarter-pound beef patty, sesame seed bun, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup and sliced onion. Only a fuzzy-math-proficient government accountant could possibly appreciate and explain how a Whopper can be made your way so many ways. Whataburger, which prides itself on delivering each customer’s burger made-to-order, advertises 36,864 different ways to make a Whataburger and that includes special requests such as grilled onions, jalapenos, triple meat and extra cheese. There aren’t that many differences between a Whopper and a Whataburger.
If Burger King can boast of nearly a quarter-million have-it-your-way combinations, the aforementioned fuzzy-math accountant could probably come up with a googol ways to enjoy a burger at Flamez Burgers & More, a Duke City eatery featuring burgers you can build yourself. Launched in August, 2012, Flamez takes “have it your way” to the nth level. It starts with the selection of your burger: black Angus beef, American buffalo, Colorado lamb, Atlantic salmon, all-white turkey and even vegetarian. All burgers are served with tomatoes, onion, lettuce, pickle and your choice of cheese.
Fromage fanatics will appreciate Flamez’ cheese options of American, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Provolone, Blue Cheese, Feta Cheese, Gorgonzola Cheese, Dill Havarti and Goat Cheese. Available for-a-fee toppings include bacon, green chile, jalapeño, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, Texas chili, avocado and fried egg. Ordering can be daunting, especially if your eyes tend to be bigger than your stomach or you tend to get carried away experimenting with ingredients. A sage might advise keeping it simple because too many items can overwhelm both the burger and the diner.
Keep it too simple, however, and you might miss out on flavor combinations that work exceedingly well. I have in mind the eight-ounce black Angus beef burger my Kim enjoyed during our inaugural visit. She dressed her burger with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and a cranberry sauce designated for a seasonal burger special featuring turkey, sweet potatoes and that cranberry sauce. If you appreciate complementary-contrasting sweet and savory flavors, this is a burger you’ll enjoy very much. The cranberry sauce makes an excellent dip for sweet potato fries, too. The black Angus beef, by the way, is steak quality beef specially blended from brisket, chuck and sirloin. It’s ground on the premises. The quality shows!
Burgers are served on a buttery bun that is challenged to contain all the ingredients, particularly if you pile on several moist ingredients. It’s a delicious bun, a welcome respite from standard fare, but expect to get your fingers messy because there may not be enough bun to completely do its job. Make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand. Another nit is that, contrary to the restaurant’s name, burgers are prepared on a flat top grill and not over an open-flame grill. The burgers are, however, prepared to your exacting specifications and are well-seasoned with plenty of flavor and moistness.
For some reason, most of the few restaurants in New Mexico which offer lamb burgers seem to think diners will appreciate lamb if its natural flavors are “disguised.” The last two lamb burgers I had prior to our visit to Flamez were constructed with Moroccan Merguez spices and an al pastor blend featuring guajillo chiles respectively. Though good in their own way, discerning the naturally luscious flavor of lamb was a challenge. You might expect then that discretion in the selection of toppings would have been the wise thing to do, but the mad scientist experimenter in me won over and my Colorado lamb burger was topped with a fried egg (over medium), green chile, lettuce, tomato and onion.
Despite the heaping multitude of ingredients, the lamb is easily discernible if it’s prepared at medium-rare, the degree of doneness which best suits lamb. Its pale pink flesh makes it a silken marvel with a unique just-a -hint of gaminess flavor. Flamez offers a green chile with a nice degree of heat, a huge plus for a market glutted with 98-pound weakling green chile. A worthy accompaniment to a lamb burger are Flamez’ tempura-battered onion rings which are served with a “secret sauce.” Unlike the tempura-battered onion rings at some Japanese restaurants, these are lightly battered and are almost translucent, sheathing a sweet onion. These might be the best onion rings in town. The secret sauce is terrific, but wholly unnecessary.
The “& More” on the restaurant’s name represents menu items ranging from “burger bowlz” to “burger saladz” and “sandwiches from around the world.” The menu showcases five Burger Bowlz: All American, Comfort, Mexican, Asian and Italian, each of which are served with a grilled six-ounce hamburger steak. The Italian burger bowl features spaghetti, mozzarella, Parmesan and tomato sauce. Each of the five Burger Saladz feature one of the burger meats. The Greek salad, for example, includes Colorado lamb.
The “Sandwiches From Around the World” menu provides a terrific option to burgers without having to give up bread. Italian inspired sandwiches include a Caprese and a chicken sandwich. From Greece comes a gyro. Vietnam is represented by a beef banh mi (grilled flank steak, mayo, cucumber, marinated carrot and daikon). Spain can boast of the Bocadillo de Jamon, the Middle East of Chicken Shawerma and France of the Croque Madame. All sandwiches are served with kettle chips or a personal green salad.
The Flamez dessert menu offers only six items, but they range from the simple (cookies and milk) to the sublime (Carrot Bread Pudding). The latter is magical, two dense slabs of lightly sweetened bread pudding served with pecan ice cream drizzled with cardamom caramel sauce. It may be worthy of Larry McGoldrick’s bread pudding hall-of-fame. Flamez also offers a unique take on apple pie. It’s a deconstructed apple pie served in a glass goblet. The goblet is replete with bits and pieces of pie crust, tangy apples, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel. Now if only someone could reconstruct baseball, another American institution, so that it’s interesting once again.
Flamez Burgers & More is owned by Salim Khoury, a very accomplished chef with extensive experience at four-star restaurants. His restaurant offers steak quality beef at prices you won’t find at any steakhouse. Flamez also offers burgers with hundreds, if not thousands (maybe a googol) of ingredient combinations. You truly can have it your way at Flamez!
Flamez Burgers & More
9821 Montgomery Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 20 October 2012
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Apple Pie, Carrot Bread Pudding, Colorado Lamb Burger, Black Angus Burger, Onion Rings, Sweet Potato Fries