Every town has a restaurant that’s been around forever, and the locals all know to eat there. Asheville may have more than its share of such places, but I’ve got Three Brothers on my mind–and palette–at the moment.
They offer a lunch special every day. I really like the spaghetti, the cabbage rolls, the occasional pastichio, etc. The regular fare is just as good–their Greek salad is alive with feta cheese, the cold plate is everything you could want, and the lemon pound cake is downright famous. But, oh, last Friday–the world stood still for a moment in honor of the Feta Burger and my sybaritic (there’s that word again!) pleasure in consuming it!
Picture a white oval plate being carried from the kitchen toward my table. On that plate: The Feta Burger Special. It begins with a 1/3 lb. burger, and Three Brothers makes a darn good burger that smells and tastes like real meat that somebody actually hand-patted into a nice size and shape. The bun is pretty regular; white and of a size to complement the burger without too much overhang from either party. Although ordinary, the bun looks and tastes like buns used to look and taste in diners.
Next, a 1/2″ slab of feta cheese is applied to the burger. Not skimpy crumbles of feta that roll away at the first onslaught of incisors, but a SLAB of feta sliced straight from the block. Then comes a pile of grilled onions. Not too few, not too greasy, not too done. The onions are then topped with tomato–not a pitiful pinkish winter time tomato, but a sassy slice of a ripe red love apple. Can you hear my salivary glands kicking into high gear?
Surrounding this magnificent creation is a sea of French fries that look and smell and taste like fries used to look/smell/taste. Neither steak fries nor shoestrings, but a happy medium between the two. And a pickle spear, which is as crisp and garlicky as anyone could want. I look at my lunch companions, one of whom ordered the special and one who did not. Loser!
I carefully divide my Feta Burger into manageable halves so I can master all its components. I realize that it could be considered a feta patty melt, and the thought makes me shiver with delight. I’ve always wanted to like patty melts, but they were just too melty and greasy for me. The feta is firm and cool–it hasn’t formed the requisite cheese-slick that characterizes most melts.
Conversation ceases; this moment is about the feta burger. I come up for air only when the server asks if everything tastes okay. I can only nod. “Okay” is too weak a word for what I’m feeling.
It ends at last, and the plates are collected. I ask the server to please tell the owners to make this special a regular. I ask the nice lady at the register (who is, I believe, the mother and aunt of the two brothers and the cousin who now run the family business) the same thing. We talk about this special special all the way to the car and back to the office. I tell my sisters about it. I mention it on www.twitter.com. I feel downright locavoracious about this burger, and am already longing for it to reappear on the “special” board again.