Some months ago, I was fortunate to run into Dan Gavin on Twitter, and was introduced to he and James Martin’s concept of a monthly burger club called Burger Coalition. After several failed attempts at securing an invite to their monthly gatherings, I managed to pull it off earlier this year, and was able to attend a second one this year as well. Soon after our gathering at Flip Burger, Dan revealed his plans to have a grand celebration at the one year mark, and last night was that night. And oh, what a night it was.
Dan and James had a simple idea: to create an atmosphere where new people could meet each other and get to know one another over great food, specifically great burgers. And while their idea isn’t complicated, it certainly has taken off and grown into quite the monthly gathering.
The one-year anniversary party was held at Octane Coffee in Homewood, and from start to finish, the event was a catered affair. Chefs Wil Drake and Roscoe Hall of Magnolia Creek were the masters of the evening. Octane Coffee is a relatively new spot over in the heart of Homewood, and is a great spot for an event such as this.
Right out of the gate, people were trying unique beverages from the bar and I could tell it was going to be a perfect evening. The bartenders were mixing with superb skill and it was a pleasure to be surrounded by so many like-minded foodies. Octane had a great selection of specialty drinks available and some great craft beers from various locations.
The first thing we got to enjoy was Lauren Sharp’s “Next Door” macaroons. They might’ve been my favorite part of the night. They were bacon jam with mascarpone cheese and they were absolutely divine.
These macaroons were obviously made to look like burgers but they tasted like a little bit of heaven. And the shoestring crunchy fries to go along with it were a great touch. The salty and sweet combination made for an absolutely perfect start to the night. And from there, it just took off.
Chefs Wil and Roscoe came out to give us the rundown of what we could expect with our meal, and it was nothing short of spectacular. The first course was a faux crab cake made from spaghetti squash and squid ink. After that, we had some outstanding mustard ice cream served on (get this!) a Bugel. That’s right…a mini ice-cream cone…unbelievable!
After the palette cleanser, we moved onto the next course, a real comfort food special, potato salad made from gnocchi. It was unreal…just excellently prepared and pulled off. Then, it was time to move onto the main attraction, the burger.
The burger itself was great…the meat was farm-raised beef from a friend’s North Carolina farm, and the buns were homemade and baked earlier that week specifically for the party. The burgers were covered in caramelized onions and homemade cheese whiz. The kettle-style chips were topped with this amazing ox-tail gravy which in any other circumstance might’ve been the both the highlight of the night and also awesome on the burger itself.
The burger was superbly cooked at medium rare and had a flavor that’s really hard to explain. The cheese whiz was a nice touch and made for an interesting flavor in and of itself. But to me, that ox-tail gravy was out of this world.
And what would a night dedicated to burgers be without a little milkshake for dessert. And here is where the chefs really outdid themselves. The banana malt milkshake was topped with pink peppercorn and (get this again!) pop rocks!
After I received mine, I took it and mixed it all together and the flavor of the bananas, chocolate, malt, peppercorn and pop rocks were unreal together. It was one of the more unique things I had ever had, and really just an exquisite ending to the night.
Dan and James came back out and thanked us for a great night and a great first year of Burger Coalition. But in truth, it was the 60 or so of us that should’ve thanked them for taking us with them on this journey of food and social exploration. They have created quite the movement here in Birmingham and also in Atlanta, and it goes to further show that all it takes is a simple but great idea to resonate with the people of the South.
I am looking forward to the next year of Burger Coalition and where it will take me and everyone else who jumps in. My question to you is this…what are you waiting for?