The Pulp Fiction scene is iconic: Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) sit in a Chevy Nova parsing the finer points of life, namely what kind of burgers they have in France.
Vincent: And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: Nah, man, they got the metric system. They wouldn’t know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a “Royale with Cheese.”
Jules: “Royale with Cheese.”
That last line is the stuff of Hollywood legend, but at Zero Restaurant it’s the stuff of, well, stuffing your face. In what can only be called the greatest gift Charleston has ever received, Chef Vinson Petrillo has created his own Royale with Cheese and it’s everything Samuel L. Jackson could have hoped for — a decadent burger coated in truffles, served in tinfoil, and regularly priced at a mildly pretentious $33 a pop. But it wasn’t inspired by McDonald’s. It was Five Guys that lead to Petrillo’s fancy burger.
“I really like Five Guys’ cheeseburgers,” says Petrillo. The chain’s bread was what initially sold him. “They bury the burger in the fries so it steams a bit so the bun’s really awesome.” Using bread from Butcher & Bee, Petrillo uses a similar technique, only after coating his buns in butter, his team wraps the buns in a napkin to steam.
“It gets it nice and chewy,” he says. But all that’s just the topper. Inside is where Zero Restaurant’s Royale with Cheese really gets luxe. Petrillo combines 50 percent Wagyu and 50 percent short rib to make his patties.
“The purpose of that is the Wagyu is so soft, it doesn’t make such a great burger. Combining the two helps it be more stabilized and then you add capers, carmelized onions, Sambal, Dijon mustard, and chopped truffles all mixed into the burger,” says Petrillo.
And the cheese? That shit is bananas.
“It’s Kraft Singles fondue,” says Petrillo.
That’s right, Kraft-motherfucking-Singles fondue.
To makes this wicked rich liquid cheese, Petrillo begins by reducing cream and truffle juice together. “Then, when it’s reduced by half, we start folding in 50 Kraft Singles,” he says.
After topping his patty with the Kraft fondue, the burger gets sprinkled with more truffles before being carefully wrapped in tinfoil, a playful choice made all the more ridiculous when biting into the burger in Zero George’s bougie single house. But that’s all part of the plan.
“We’re trying to have fun with fancy stuff,” the chef says. And the burger is no different. Sure it’s outrageously expensive and the restaurant only sells five a night (Zero will offer more for Burger Week at $27 a piece), but the spirit of a classic burger is still there, this one’s just a little more upscale and decidedly better than Le Big Mac.
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