Last Thursday was National Burger Day, which went pretty much unnoticed around these parts, except that it seems half the celebrity chefs in America showed up at Petit Trois to try its new burger. That might be a bit of an overstatement, but when you see Tom Colicchio, Chris Consentino and Hugh Acheson all sitting in a row, especially in a spot as teeny as Petit Trois, it feels like a lot of star power.
I was there for the burger as well, a behemoth of a thing, which apparently was inspired by the cheeseburger at Au Cheval in Chicago, which chef Ludo Lefebvre ate while he was there a few weeks back for the Beard Awards. Petit Trois' has been French-ified a bit, topped with caramelized onions (actually more like super-reduced French onion soup), garlic aioli, American cheese and red wine bordelaise sauce that apparently has foie gras in it.
I went for the Big Mec with two 4-ounce patties rather than the Petit Mec with only one patty, after being told by a burger expert from out of town who recently tried the Petit Mec that the smaller version puts the proportions of bun to meat to toppings out of whack. And despite all the toppings, which are delicious, for me, this burger is all about the meat. The patty seemed rather French to me, as in bifteck hache style. Bifteck hache means that rather than finely ground beef, this is coarsely chopped steak, which is then seared quickly (the same way you would cook a steak) with very little else added.
At Petit Trois, prime beef is used, and the main thrill of this burger is the taste of that beef, which is every bit as steak-y as you could want.
I saw our celebrity chef friends cut the thing in half, ostensibly to share it, but they were smart in doing so because it is impossible to eat whole. The first few bites will cover your face in bordelaise and aioli, and then it will fall apart in your hands. I finished the burger with a fork because there was no other way to go about it other than just putting my face in the plate (which was tempting).
This thing, no matter how unwieldy, is damn delicious. I finished it all, at around 2 p.m., and was not hungry again until late the next morning.
Petit Trois Big Mec double cheeseburger, $17.95 (Petit Mec $12.95).