Kronnerburger, the eponymous restaurant from former Bar Tartine chef Chris Kronner, is on its way to a late-April opening in Oakland's Piedmont neighborhood (if all goes as planned). And once it debuts, the buzz around his burgers, which met with universal acclaim in his year-long pop-up at the Mission's Bruno's, is only going to get louder. In honor of Eater Burger Week, Kronner gave us a glimpse behind the scenes of his soon-to-open restaurant. While he plans to serve more than "just burgers" at the restaurant, he also showed us the meaty magic behind the Kronnerburger and its meat-free twin, the vegan burger. (You can follow along in the gallery above.)
According to Kronner, the Kronnerburger is "a hyper version of a really simple burger," using high-quality ingredients— everything, from mayo to pickles to buns, is made in-house. The patty is a combination of freshly ground dry-aged beef from 5-7 year-old Holstein cows from Mindful Meats, unaged 18 month-old grass-fed Angus beef, and short-rib and neck trim. The patty is grilled and placed atop a toasted, buttered bun, made with potato flour and durum semolina. The pillowy bun is then generously adorned with aged white cheddar mayonnaise, charred red onions, dill pickles and crispy, crunchy iceberg lettuce. (Kronner swears by iceberg lettuce, which he says adds an incredible textural element and, when grown with care, has a very specific taste.) To add to the meat factor, the burger is accompanied by bone marrow that's been brined and then salt-roasted, ready to be scooped directly onto an awaiting burger (or straight into a diner's mouth).
For hardcore hedonists, the North Carolina-bred chef will also be offering an off-menu pimento cheese option for the Kronnerburger. His version of the Southern staple incorporates housemade mayo, aged yellow Cabot cheddar, Calabrian and urfa chilies, and whatever sweet red pepper is in season. A generous dollop gets melted onto the bun, adding an extra kick.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the vegan burger, which also happens to be gluten-free. Kronner says his goal was not necessarily to create a burger replacement, but something as satisfying and flavorful as the Kronnerburger. Amazingly, the fantastic current iteration of the burger is only his fourth attempt. It's a mixture of button and enoki mushrooms, carrots, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and finely chopped, fried pieces of extra-firm tofu. The patty is deep-fried, crisping the outside to a pleasant golden brown. The bun, which is gluten-free (using Cup 4 Cup flour), is laced with sesame seeds, toasted, and slathered in "fake mayo," a creamy spread composed of emulsified tofu, cashews and coconut oil. The patty is then topped with Kronner's housemade dill pickles, red onion, and battered, fried yuba (tofu skins), adding a chewy, crunchy texture that's reminiscent of bacon.
Stay tuned for these and more ridiculous burgers as opening day nears, including a pork burger, made with Mangalitsa pigs from Tim Winkler's Sonoma County farm. The 35-seat restaurant will feature patio seating, an array of salads, beer, a cocktail program from Alex Phillips (Locanda) and a unique wine selection from Ordinaire's Bradford Taylor, who hosted Kronner for regular pop-ups as he got the project off the ground. Kronner plans to be open daily, with burgers until 12:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays.