The Menu was widely considered one of the best films of 2022 — it made our top 10 of 2022 at UPROXX. The takedown of the overly affluent culture built around the service industry struck a chord that’s very “burn it all down,” which feels very right now. Naturally, the film featured a lot of food — much of it almost absurdly esoteric.
But only one dish really enthralled us. It was… (spoiler alert, I guess?!)… a cheeseburger.
The moment I saw that cheeseburger dances across the screen, I knew I’d be making it soon. It looked too good to ignore. The sesame seed bun, the Oklahoma-style smash burger with white onions, the insane amount of melted American cheese, it all just looked too good to be true in that special cinematic way where movies can over-inflate how transcendent food really is. After all… it was also just a f*cking cheeseburger. (Those who have seen the movie know that this was the entire point.)
The film itself doesn’t overplay the humble fast food staple either. It calls a spade a spade by stating on the screen “just a well-made cheeseburger” and nothing else.
In a way, that description is almost a reference to this wonderful scene from Parks And Rec.
It’s not exactly revolutionary to admit that it’s hard to beat a well-made and simple cheeseburger with no bells and whistles. Good ingredients executed perfectly — salt, fat, meat, carbs. Thanks to that simplicity, the quality of the ingredients and execution actually become the bells and whistles. That’s pretty cool because there’s nothing to hide behind.
Anyway, the best part is that the film lays out each step of the cheeseburger-making process.
Since that is there, it’s pretty easy to replicate this movie recipe. Sure, I’m not sourcing meat from dairy cows raised on a Scandinavian island or baking the “best bread in the world” for the bun. But that’s not the point. The point is to make “just a well-made cheeseburger.” So let’s do that in the style of The Menu.
- The Single Best Cheeseburger From All The Big Fast Food Chains (Hacks Included!)
- We Blind Tested Ketchup Brands On Fries And Hot Dogs And Picked The #1 Best
- We Blind Tested Every Mayo On The Market To Find The #1 Best
- The #1 Most Boneheaded Error Made By 16 Major Fast Food Chains
- The 20 Most Popular Hot Sauces In America, Blind Tasted And Ranked
- 6 oz. grass-fed ground beef
- 4 slices American cheese (from a deli counter)
- 1 toasted sesame seed bun (from a bakery)
- Pickle chips
- 1/4 of a white onion (thinly sliced on a mandoline)
- Kosher salt
- Black Pepper
- Neutral vegetable oil
This is all pretty straightforward stuff. I got everything from a grocery store. The bun was from the bakery section. The cheese was from the deli (though it was a little thick on the slice — more on that later). And the beef was a local grass-fed beef with an 85/15 lean/fat ratio. It’s as close to the “restaurant-raised” Hawthone-fied version as I was going to get.
Luckily, there’s a clear mise en place set up for the burger-making scene. You can see four small bowls for onions, pickles, and yellow mustard. It looks like the other mini bowl has mayo so I just went with that. I got all of that from the store too. Remember, we’re talking about simple things elevated here.
What You’ll Need:
- Grill top or skillet
- Heavy-duty offset spatula
- Kitchen towel
- Form two 3-ounce balls with the ground beef, ensuring not to compress the ground beef too much.
- Slice the bun.
- Slice the white onion on the vertical pole of the onion on the mandoline’s thinnest setting.
- Ready the pickles, mustard, mayo, cheese slices, salt, and pepper on a board. This is your mise en place and will allow you to cook and build with ease.
- Heat a skillet or grill top on high heat. Once heated, add a small amount of oil — it should just start to spit thin lines of smoke but not billow.
- Toast the sesame seed bun on the grill or skillet. Set aside.
- Place the balls on the hot surface and smash — using a heavy-duty offset spatula and a kitchen towel — until they’re about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Add a large pinch of Kosher salt to each patty and then hit with a good crank of black pepper as well.
- Add a few slices of white onion to each patty, creating a thin layer.
- After about a minute or so, a good Malliard crust should have formed on the whole bottom of each patty (not just the edges), use the offset spatula to flip the patties. Make sure to keep the onions under the flipped patty.
- Immediately add two slices of American cheese to each patty, allowing the corners to drape over the round edges of the meat.
- Dope the heel and crown of the bun with the mayo and mustard — a small smear of each on each piece will do — and then add enough thin slices of pickle to the heel to make one layer.
- After about two minutes or so, the cheese should be getting melty and searing around the edges. Use the spatula to stack the two patties and place them on the doped heel bun.
- Add the crown bun and gently press down, allowing the juices to seep out and help create a deeper sauce for the whole cheeseburger (just as Chef does in The Menu).
- Serve — optionally with crinkle-cut fries.
Yup, delicious. Really freaking delicious. The one fault was not in the burger’s idea but in my execution. My American cheese slices were too thick. That made the burger very cheesy. Not too much but definitely a tad off balance. Next time, I’ll get the slices a notch or two thinner off the ol’ slicer at the deli counter.
Side by side, these were pretty damn close. I need a better camera and lighting, but it’s definitely there.
Overall, this was still an amazingly satisfying burger. The meat was super juicy and wonderfully seasoned, especially with the sweet bite of grilled onions embedded in the patty. The bun held everything together like a champ too. While this was cheesy and juicy it wasn’t overly messy.
This was the extent of the mess on my hand after eating the burger, which is pretty minimal for something so juicy.
Lastly, while this looks big and tall, it wasn’t. Once you grabbed the burger in your hand, it was perfectly sized for biting into without unlocking your jaw — i.e. just a well-made cheeseburger. Best of all? If you’re craving a burger after watching The Menu, this one is definitely achievable. Make it tonight!