But I didn’t open a restaurant based on the theme. It was Richard Righton who had that idea. And it was a good one.
Righton was born in Worchestershire, England. Yes, that Worchestershire. Home of the paper-wrapped bottles of Lea & Perrins sauce. Good on anything.
Righton moved his family to California several years ago. He opened a very successful upscale bistro in Folsom. Then along came the burgers and martinis idea.
My wife and I were seated in a booth giving us a view of the lively Relish Burger Bar. The lights of the season’s first Christmas tree added a special festive glow. Tim, the young man assigned to tend our table, showed up with a quick smile, a friendly welcome and an impressive knowledge of the menu.
I started with a Montano Martini. Basil, cucumber, Hendrik’s gin and pear vodka. Hendrik’s gin is distilled in Scotland. It’s infused with cucumber. One of best gins ever made. The pear vodka added just the right fruit flavoring sans sweetness. It was an extremely good martini.
We came for burgers but were waylaid by the intriguing appetizers. My wife quickly ordered a shrimp cocktail and the Tachos.
Tachos? At Relish Burger Bar that means tater tots slathered with nacho cheese, bacon and sour cream. They brought back happy childhood memories to my wife. I had no such memories but was willing to try them. While the shrimp could have benefited from perhaps just another minute cooking, much to my surprise the Tachos were outstanding. I ate more than my share. I could have eaten more but we had the rest of the menu to consider.
We were headed toward the list of artisanal burgers until I pointed out that the appetizer menu also included “pork wings.” Highly pleasant pork riblets fashioned to resemble Buffalo wings. We first discovered these delectable little items in Anchorage. Relish Burger Bar is the only other restaurant we’ve ever seen offer them. Had to have’em.
They came crisp on the outside. Tender and juicy on the inside. Dipped in a nice, slightly sweet barbeque sauce. Resting on a bed of cole slaw. Very good.
We were quickly stuffing ourselves with small plates. We hadn’t even got to the burger part yet. My wife declared herself unable to eat more. I was determined not to leave until I had sampled a burger. Hey, it was burgers and martinis. I had the martini. It seemed only right to have the burger.
As I always do I went for the spiciest. The Gilroy Garlic & Jalapeno Burger, which I planned to share with my wife. Tim asked what side would I want with the burger. Fries? Garlic fries? Sweet potato fries? Onion rings? I heard my wife say, “Onion rings.”
“Good choice,” Tim said.
I ordered the onion rings.
The burger came with pepper Jack cheese, pickled jalapenos, roasted garlic aioli with lettuce and tomato. The aioli had just enough garlic flavor to give the sandwich personality. The jalapenos and pepper jack added a little heat. A superb burger.
My wife and Tim were right. The house made onion rings were tasty. The breading light and nicely browned. The onions inside soft and sweet.
Notes to self: Next time try another martini. But then again the Montano Martini was exceptional.
Definitely fewer appetizers. But which ones?
Leave room for a whole burger.