Flip Burger Boutique – Birmingham

Flip Burger Boutique - Birmingham

Thanks to Chef Richard Blais, molecular gastronomy and fancy hamburgers, two of the restaurant world’s most exciting trends, can now be found down South. After the success of Blais’ original Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta, a second location was opened in Birmingham late last year.

I initially found the idea of a burger “boutique” kind of laughable, but once I saw where it was located—within a mega suburban strip mall and next door to Juicy Couture and Gloss Premium Denim—it all made sense. Now, if this isn’t an agglomeration economy designed with the painfully hip and sassy in mind, I don’t know what is.

FLIP BURGER INTERIOR

Chef Blais, who was the runner-up on season four of Top Chef, is trained in classic French cookery but likes to dabble in modern techniques as well. He has studied under culinary luminaries Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Alice Waters, and Ferran Adria.

At Flip, the humble hamburger is transformed from a grease bomb into an edible work of art. “We only have two rules,” said Chef Blais in an interview with The Birmingham News. “One is that whatever we call a burger has to be ground. That doesn’t have to be beef. It can be another meat or it can be vegetable or it can be seafood. The other rule is it has to be served on a bun.” With chorizo, lamb, and crab sharing menu space with Wagyu beef, the restaurant fully lives up to its slogan “Fine Dining Between Two Buns.”

FLIP BURGER INTERIOR COLLAGE

Designed by Atlanta-based architecture and design firm ai3, Flip’s dining room features communal seating and “padded cell” booths. The stylish layout and chic vibe reminded me of the Stephen Starr restaurants I used to frequent in Philadelphia.

The Astronomer, Rosalind (The Astronomer’s sister), Miho (The Astronomer’s high school friend), and I stopped in for lunch during Flip’s second week of operation. We were also joined briefly by Sara, a high school classmate of Rosalind, Miho, and The Astronomer, who is currently working in Flip’s kitchen.

TRIO OF MILK SHAKES

Lunch began with a bevy of Flip’s famous liquid-nitrogen milkshakes. Our back-of-the-house homie Sara sweet talked the milkshake maker into sending over small samples of each of the flavors on offer in addition to the ones that we ordered. The ice cream used in the milkshakes was frozen using liquid nitrogen, which resulted in a texture that was ultra-thick and velvety. As a bonus, wispy plumes of smoke emanated from the cups, bringing a bit of drama to the table.

The pistachio and truffle milkshake was my favorite of the four flavors that we tried. The unmistakable essence of truffle permeated the entire glass. The Astronomer, Rosalind, and Miho all adored the super-sweet Krispy Krème milkshake, which contained actual bits of doughnut matter. The Nutella with burnt marshmallow milkshake was perfectly chocolaty and had an appealing layer of graham cracker crumbles at the bottom of the glass. The infamous foie gras milkshake was palatable but tasted more of nutty amaretto than rich liver; it also left a strange film on our tongues.

FRIED GOODIES COLLAGE

To balance out our milkshakes’ sweetness, we indulged in a variety of savory fried foods. The vodka battered onion rings with beer honey mustard ($3.50) were light and not the least bit greasy. The tempura fried okra with Sriracha ranch ($3) were expertly fried and had an ideal ratio of vegetable to batter. The fried B&B pickles with buttermilk ranch ($2) were sprinkled with fresh dill and had a great snap to ‘em. The tempura sweet potato fries with chocolate salt ($4) were straight-up fabulous. Sweet and salty pairings always win my heart.

BURGER COLLAGE

Our party of four ordered three burgers to share. The Wild Turkey burger (left) with Benton’s bacon, wild turkey glaze, smoked mayo, raisin scallion relish, and micro greens ($6.50) came highly recommended by Sarah and was my favorite of the three. Once again, I was seduced by the sweetness of the relish, coupled with the salty savoriness of the bacon and turkey. The toasted brioche bun held onto the contents well.

The Astronomer chose the Butcher’s Cut burger with caramelized onion, blue cheese, and red wine jam ($7), which was the sole beef burger of the bunch. Cooked medium-well, the meat’s flavor was passable, but not exceptional. With the Butcher’s Cut, the focus was more on bells and whistles rather than the quality of the meat. Next time around, I’d like to try the Farm burger with organic, grass-fed beef to see how it compares.

TUNA TARTARE BURGER

Our final selection was the Burger of the Day, a tuna tartare burger ($10) made with sushi grade tuna, wasabi mayo, pine nuts, Asian pear, cucumber, and mango yolk. While not a menu mainstay, the tuna tartare burger was excellent nevertheless. We all appreciated its light and fresh flavors. The mango yolk provided a subtle sweetness and lots of intrigue.

SARAH IN THE KITCHEN

After we finished our lunch and paid our tab, we gathered near the open kitchen to see Sara doing her thang. Make sure to say hi to her when you dine at Flip. She’s lovely.

Flip Burger Boutique
220 Summit Boulevard, Suite 140
Birmingham, AL 35243
Phone: 205-968-2000

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15 Responses to “Flip Burger Boutique – Birmingham”


  • Big fan’s of Richard Blaise. The menu looks totally awesome.

  • “Wispy plumes of smoke” and “bits of doughnut matter”? Sounds like a fun stop. Maybe I should have stopped at Flip #1 when I was in Atlanta.

  • My God. I had no idea Birmingham had it going on like this! I mean, molecular gastronomy at a burger place?! Looks like Austin has a lot of catching up to do!

    One of our most interesting chefs is a partner at a fast-casual sushi place there that I’d love to try. Looks like a trip to Birmingham might be in order… http://www.thehungryengineer.com/reviews/sushi-in-alabama/

  • Have you ck’d out the new Counter in Pasadena, CD? We gotta ck it out one nite!

  • Does mango yolk contain actual chicken egg yolk or is it just a mango representation of yolk? The shakes sound divine. Sign me up for a pistachio liquid nitrogen goodness!

  • Anna - The “yolk” was purely mango. Very thin membranes, kind of like the olives at The Bazaar and the “shots” at Providence.

  • Fellow Asian in Alabama!! :P

    Those milkshakes looks quite heavenly, as you know I have a sweet tooth.

    Those burgers looked a bit small, was it the picture or were those “slider” sized burgers?

  • KFP - Flip burgers are larger than a slider, but smaller than an “average” sized burger. Btw, there are a good number of Asians in Birmingham due to the medical school at UAB ;-)

  • Dang you ate well in Bama! That turkey burger and nutella shake sound particularly appealing. :)

  • This makes me want to visit Alabama. Stunning photos. The burgers look absolutely delicious.

  • I would say crispy and elegant.

  • This place is all about looks. I went with my husband and we thought, THIS IS GOING TO BE GREAT! My husband’s a chef at a fine dining resturaunt in downtown Birmingham. He was very unimpressed by the taste of the food and quality of the ingredients. First both burgers came out rare, and the bun was soaked in blood. Normally I don’t mind a rare or medium rare burger but if I can lift my bun and blood is dripping off of it, no thank you! Anyone who loves this place is only going by looks and does not know quality whatsoever. They are only going by decor and “hip” atmosphere because this place sure isn’t about quality or quantity! And the service, while nice is very awkward and not attentive. The sides were unbelievably greasy. So much so I could gently squeeze a fry and it would just drip and drip. The sweetpotato fries were not cook thoroughly, they were ok at best. Overall, in my opinion, not worth paying for.

  • Jenna,

    Sorry — you either had a bad night or are completely clueless. I can’t say which, because I didn’t see your meal. But every time I’ve had Flip, it’s been AMAZING. The Ahi Tuna Tartare burger is my favorite. I could eat that every day.

    I’d say give it another try — if it’s bad again, it’s probably just you.

  • WELL I LOVED FLIP HERE IN BHAM AL MY WIFE AND MOTHER IN LAW HAVE BEEN EATING THERE EVERY SAT SINCE IT OPENED I HAVE BEEN A COUPLE OF TIMES MY SELF THE FOOD IS GREAT SERVICE ALWAYS GREAT EXCEPT TODAY 11/6/10,MY WIFE WAS AT A STORE A FEW DOORS DOWN FROM FLIP SO SHE HAD A TASTE FOR SOME FLIP PICKLES SHE LOVES THEM SHE SENT MY SON IN THERE TO BUY SOME A WAITER TOOK THE ORDER BROUGHT THEM OUT IN A BAG GAVE THEM TO MY SON WITH A TICKET,IN THE BAG WAS A TAKE OUT DESERT BOWL NO LID WITH ABOUT 10 PICKLE SLICES THE BILL $3.85 HE CALLED MY WIFE ON HER CELL TO LET HER KNOW, SHE TOLD HIM SHE WAS ON HER WAY TO FLIP AND TO WAIT BEFORE HE PAID FOR THEM,WHEN SHE GOT THERE SHE TOLD THE WAITER SHE DIDNT WANT TO PAY THAT MUCH FOR THE PICKLES THE WAITER CALLED THE MANAGER WHO CAME OVER AND TOLD MY WIFE HE COULD NOT TAKE THEM BACK BECAUSE FLIP WOULD INCUR A LOSS “WTF”!AFTER THIS PRIMA DONNA HOLYIER THAN THOU MANAGER SAID THIS HE TOLD MY WIFE “BEFORE YOU SEND YOUR SON INTO FLIP FOR SOMETHING MAKE SURE YOU CAN AFFORD WHAT YOU SEND HIM FOR” WELL BY NOW YOU’VE GUESSED WE’RE AFRICAN AMERICANS MY WIFES A DR I AM A DR I GUESS SPENDING OVER $100.00 A SATURDAY IS NOT ENOUGH AND I DID’NT SAY AINT! WE WONT BE BACK!!!!!!!! I HOPE MR BLAIS KNOWS HIS STAFF TREATS LOYAL CUSTOMERS LIKE THIS!!!!

  • Birmingham is not nearly as Philistine as those who have never visited are confident that it is.

    That being said, Dr./Mr. A Taylor, I’m so sorry – but not terribly surprised – by your experience. I love FLIP but have hated the service about 50% of the times I’ve been in there. Sad to say, but I’ve discovered the secret is “accidentally” leaving your keys on the table top instead of putting them away. It seems the FLIP staff is incredibly fond of fine German automotive engineering.

    Bon Appetit, Cathy! Great blog.

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