400 Degrees Fancy Burger Joint To Open Wednesday of Next Week in Carmel
May 16, 2012
Upscale burger outfit 400° Gourmet Burgers & Fries (244-0040) has set an open date: Wednesday, May 23.
It's a fiercely anticipated hump day for two contingents for two very different reasons.
Many are amped that there will be a burger spot in town, an alternative to the more expensive sit-down restaurants, and especially one starring house-blended beef patties, locally sourced produce, signature sodas and milk shakes, tasty variations of French fries, salads, and a wine-by-the-glass or half bottle and nice beers.
Others are waiting to see if this is in fact the floodgate opener that they've predicted, the dark day when Carmel surrenders itself to fast food, albeit of the high-grade David Fink pedigree (he owns the joint, along with Cantinetta Luca, Aubergine and L'Auberge).
I'm looking forward to it in large part because I've seen the tasty things that emerge when partner-chef Jason Balestrieri has the reigns.
Last week he hosted his annual spring lamb dinner in a packed back room at Cantinetta Luca. Just the first course alone was mouthwatering indication he is a meaty talent going somewhere to sizzle: "raw" lamb two ways, tartare with quail egg and a salsa verde plus lamb salami he made and cured himself on the premises. And the lamb shoulder-pistachio-fava raviolis that followed were even better.
The numerical name for the burger outpost comes from the restaurant's custom-made cast iron griddle produced by Hayward-based Montague Company, the oldest handcrafted stove company in the country (cookin' since 1857).
"Cast iron is an excellent heat conductor for locking in flavor," read's the project's mission statement, "and 400° is the optimal temperature for searing burgers on cast iron."
The most magnetic menu items from the spot, which will land in Carmel Plaza just off Carmel's Ocean Avenue at Mission and Seventh in all its red-tile-accented, 2,200 square-foot, 80-seat, two-story tall windows glory:
• The 400° Burger ($9.95): cheddar, lettuce, griddled onions, 400° steak sauce
• The Kobe ($13.95): soused onions, smoked cheddar, crispy potatoes, 400° spread
• The Veggie ($8.95): chopped spinach, bean and grilled vegetable patty, griddled mushrooms, eggplant-miso spread
• Sea-Salted Caramel Shake ($5.95)
Hours work like this: 11am-10pm Sunday-Thursday; 11am-11pm Friday-Saturday. Questions and to-go orders at 244-0040 or online at 400degrees.com.