Brad Thompson Plans a New Burger for Lever House

Brad Thompson, the new chef at Lever House, knows all about gourmet burgers. He was part of the team that created the DB Burger, and his L.A. tailgates are the stuff of legend. So now, as he prepares to create the city’s latest haute hamburger, for Lever House, what is he thinking about? We got the details.

What do you want from a gourmet burger?
I don’t want to reinvent the burger. I don’t want Kobe beef or gold leaf…that’s losing the point of the burger. I’ve had enough of all that. Everybody’s doing it.

So what will yours be like?
I’m getting it from Pat LaFrieda, obviously. That was the first call that I made. But I had to think about how rich I wanted it. A Sunday burger is that burger you want when you’re hung-over. You want your fingers to get greasy; it’s greasy in a good way. That’s the DuMont burger. I need a lunch burger, something a little considerate of our customers who have to go back to work. Then we’ll season the burger with kosher salt, black pepper, and mustard powder, so they’ll be a little extra sharpness, right on the burger.

Grilled? Broiled? Plancha?
Charbroiled. It really brings out the flavor of the seasonings.

And what goes on it?
We’re going to do a red-wine onion — red onions stewed in red wine, balsamic vinegar, and some secret spices. And that’s it. Then the cheese will be a mixture of Maytag blue and mozzarella di bufala; we’ll grind it together and make slices.

Some people detest blue cheese. Will that really be the only option?
No, I don’t want it to be like, “this is my burger, eat it or don’t.” That’s not my style. There will be other options. Relax.

What’s the bun going to be?
I don’t think that brioche works. It’s too soft, and it falls apart when the burger gives up its juice. Especially a big, eight-ounce burger like this one. I really like challah bread. Challah gives you the texture of bread. Which is important. You need flavor, but also some substance. It’s all part of the bun-to-burger ratio. We’ll protect the bottom bun anyway with some lettuce, that’ll just be there to keep the juice from soaking into the bread.

And when's the debut?
Monday, July 7. That’s B-day.

Earlier: Bradford Thompson Plans His Menus for June at Lever House