There’s no rule that specifically states that the best things in life must cost an arm and a leg, and Santiago’s The White Rabbit is out to prove just that.  Not quite open a year, the small restaurant tucked away in the back end of the ever-popular Bellavista neighborhood has become a favorite amongst foodies, hipsters, beer drinkers, and anyone else out for an amazing time.  With an environment that many love to refer to as Brooklyn chic, complete with distressed wood, red-striped cloth napkins, skateboards on the wall, and more than a few tattoos on the wait staff, it embodies the fun and comfort of what modern mid-scale dining has become.  Even better than the interior, though, is the menu that’s chock full of what locals would call gringo food, and what gringos would call delicious.  Sandwiches piled high, chicken wings, house-cut animal fries that are smothered in sauce, peppers, and onions, and a cocktail menu that is unmatched in the city.  Given that it’s burger week, though, and our main focus is on ground meat between a bun, we can’t talk about The White Rabbit without talking about the Wagyu burger.

A staple on the menu since day one, co-owner Chad Klonsky says, “I don’t think that thing’s coming off [the menu] ever.”  Nor should it.  For a mere $7.000 CLP (under US $14 at the current rate), the 250 g burger comes piled high with a variety of toppings, as well as a side of fries and two housemade sauces for all of your dipping needs.  Just to make sure you understand why you need to eat this burger, let’s dig a little deeper into the heart of the matter.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

1.  250 g of southern Chile’s finest wagyu beef
It’s no secret that what separates the good burgers from the great ones is the juiciness factor, in which fat becomes key.  Loaded with 250 g of fresh wagyu beef from Buena Carne in Osorno, Chile, the Rabbit’s burger is a perfect representative of the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing the highest-quality meats possible.  A mix of posta negra and huacha lomo cuts,  even at medium well, the burger is so deliciously fatty that with each squeeze of the bun, your plate is only going to become more of a puddle with every bite.  Seasoned well, not too thick and not too thin, the patty could be the closest thing to burger perfection that Santiago has to offer.  And sure, there are other wagyu burgers to be had around town, but at $7.000 CLP with fries and housemade sauces, you’re not going to find a more affordable one.

2.  Eric Kayser bun
There was near hysteria in the second half of 2013 when the French baker opened an outpost of his bakery in Santiago.  As the world’s leading consumer of bread, Chileans were elated to taste and re-taste and taste once again the exceptional bread offerings that Eric Kayser had brought to the capital city.  Seeking to only further their own good standing with the citizens of Santiago, The White Rabbit saw fit to make the hysteria-inducing bread the perfect vehicle for their big, fat wagyu burger.  As moist and tender as the burger is juicy, the Eric Kayser poppy seed roll gives balance to the burger by not being overly “bready,” which allows the flavor of the meat to shine through.  Let it sit for a minute in all that good burger juice that’s collected on your plate, and the bread will have soaked up every last bit of deliciousness that the burger has to offer, giving you all the pleasure of sopping, while still enjoying a fat burger with your hands.

3.  Toppings
There’s the caramelized onions, with a huge emphasis on the caramel.  One bite in and you might be asking how they put so much sugar into a savory dish, and you’ll find your answer in the onions.  Then there’s the melted chanco cheese, the perfect creamy blanket that, without being overpowering, adds texture without taking away from the burger’s flavor.  There’s the pickles, sourced from the pickle experts at Santiago’s Vega Central.  Oh, and there’s bacon, which might help to explain why the burger tastes so deliciously meaty, yet once again sweet, and, well, nearly perfect.  Lettuce and fresh tomato round out the lineup, right now in the peak of summer perfection.

And, though you may be asking yourself how a burger could still taste like a burger with so much stuff on it, rest assured that it does.  The choice of wagyu, with its higher fat content, the grilling process, and the deft hand used to create, pair and place the other toppings on the burger all allow for the meat to remain the center of attention, while everything else harmonizes around it.  All at once sweet, savory, and juicy, we’re hoping that Mr. Klonsky sticks to his word and that the wagyu burger becomes a Santiago institution.

At the end of the day, The White Rabbit’s wagyu burger is gringo food being prepared and developed by gringos, which could be the real secret to the burger’s success.  Don’t mess with a Chilean making Pastel de Choclo.  Don’t mess with a gringo making a burger.

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