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Dining out: Acme Burger Company

Published: Friday, Sept. 21 2007 12:32 a.m. MDT

Acme Burger Company is one of those restaurants where you'd better read the menu carefully and thoroughly, and do what it says.

For example, right below the halo'd logo at the top, diners are warned that "great food takes a little more time" and advised to tell their server if they have "less time."

Turns out "less time" means, roughly, any time less than two hours.

We found this out by ignoring the warning and assuming that the 90 minutes we'd allotted for dinner before "Spamalot" at the Capitol Theater would be more than ample for a burger place.

But this is no ordinary burger place, with hoity-toity menu categories like "Shared," "Ground," "Cured" and "Tossed," and burgers that can run you $20 (or $3, depending on your appetite).

Acme is a burger experience.

Our group of four liked what we had during our dinner at Acme. Yes, things move slowly: We talked and nibbled over our appetizers for a good long while before deciding we had to say something to our server or we'd miss curtain time. And to Acme's credit, things picked up smartly after that.

Like I said, read the menu.

We started with the darkly rich and silky house-cured salmon, aptly paired with tender browned potato pancakes, with an ultra-teensy dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh chive. We also tried and enjoyed different combinations of the "taster" size of "The Board," chef Adam Kreisel's selection of cured meats and artisan cheeses.

There are some gorgeous-sounding salads, with such ingredients as duck confit, white anchovies and fresh mozzarella. But after those rich appetizers we decided to save room for our burgers.

My husband had the Acme Classic, a basic sandwich of grass-fed beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles. At $6, it's not much more than a fast-food burger of similar size but miles ahead in terms of quality and taste.

My friend Becki had the comically named "Breath Enhancer," featuring both red onion and a superb roasted-garlic aioli atop a patty of grass-fed beef, with romaine lettuce and provolone cheese. The only problem was its bun of "garden herb toast," which was soaked through and breaking up within a minute of arriving at our table.

Becki's husband David had a skillet-roasted patty of lamb and cardamom, topped with baby arugula and zesty cucumber yogurt relish on a sweet-potato bun. If you're a lamb fan, you'll love this burger, and if you're not sure about lamb, it may convert you.

Even better — in fact, the best burger at our table — was the assertive and deep-red Utah ostrich, topped with shredded cabbage, grilled shiitake mushrooms and a perfectly seasoned garlic-chile barbecue sauce applied with a light hand. It was served on a wheat ciabatta roll that was more than a match for its contents. You may ask yourself: could any burger be worth $15? Well, try this one and let me know. I think it was, even if it's just a once-in-a-while treat.

We stuffed in bites of a few side orders: basic mac and cheese, fresh and strongly flavored creamed spinach with Pernod and a bucket of Acme's powerfully good thick-cut fries. Dessert — enticing offerings like bread pudding with buttermilk-brown sugar ice cream and twin baby souffles — will have to wait until our next visit.

Appetizers $7-$20, soup $6, salad $4-$13, tartare and ceviche $8-$12, sides $4-$12, burgers $3-$20, entrees $18-$22, desserts $7-$8.

Rating: ***

Where: 275 S. 200 West

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-at least midnight

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Reservations: Accepted for parties of six or more

Phone: 257-5700

Web: www.acmeburgercompany.com

Wheelchair access: Easy (outside ramp, good space between tables)


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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