This week, we visited the Umami Burger in Pasadena to try the Michael Voltaggio Monte Cristo. This special-edition burger is available for a limited time (6 weeks, through mid-March) at each Umami location.
THU: Stu, we already know what you think about Monte Cristos and how the name might relate to the Alexander Dumas story, The Count of Monte Cristo. But, for me, it wasn’t until we tried The Michael Voltaggio Monte Cristo Burger at Umami Burger, that I truly realized how this sandwich is as delicious as sweet, sweet vengeance itself.
STU: Hmmm, that’s interesting. As D’Artagnan once told Arthos during their duel, “Good point.”
THU: Seriously – methodically killing all of your enemies in meaningful and cathartic ways would not be as good as this burger masterpiece. And you wouldn’t even be able to get seconds. Although, to be fair, you probably don’t want seconds of this burger either, if you wanted to live to see 2015.
STU: If I met my maker by eating a sandwich, then I probably deserved it. As Dumas once said, “C’est la vie”.
THU: As long as we are referencing Dumas, I would like to say that this Two Men Chew adventure was greatly enhanced by Todd Rosenfelt, who was like the D’Artagnan to our Musketeers. Todd, a Two Men Chew reader and Expert Masticator in his own right, gave a lot of valuable insight to the analysis of this burger. Todd is a champion of the sweet + savory combo, so this was totally up his alley. He also astutely pointed out the similarities of this burger to french toast or pancakes, what with the oozing dough and especially because of the maple syrup dip on the side. Though this was Todd’s first outing with 2MC, we doubt it will be his last.
STU: I agree, Todd brought a lot to the table (so to speak).
THU: Stu, since you are clearly our resident Monte Cristo Sandwich Scholar (I mean, you straight up brought a NOTEBOOK to lunch – that is dedication) – how does Voltaggio’s burger stack up with the others you’ve had?
STU: The Voltaggio Monte Cristo is a decadent cheeseburger with Busseto prosciutto and fondue-like gruyere on a vanilla-soaked, french toast-dipped and deep-fried brioche bun, finished with a delicate dusting of powdered sugar… Or, as I like to call it: an amuse bouche. The burger is quite a departure from the classic turkey and ham version, but every well-balanced bite is still like a little bit of heaven.
THU: For $15, I think I was expecting for it to be a slightly larger piece of heaven… That’s not really a complaint as much as an observation, maybe even a pleasant surprise. I skipped breakfast because I was fully expecting to be thoroughly vanquished by this burger. But, in fact, it wasn’t as heavy as I might have expected from just the description.
STU: Thanks for for bringing this up. I know that this is an unpopular opinion since Umami’s ingredients are always of the highest caliber, but for the prices they charge, the burgers need to be bigger. Subconsciously, though, I feel like the $15 burger heightens the feeling of decadence. If a stranger were to look at your bill for a $15 burger, there will be the inevitable “Well ooh-la-la, Mr. Fancy Burger!”
THU: Monsieur Fancy Burger, indeed! I’d like to point out that all 3 of us (all for one, one for all!) opted to employ the fork and knife method of eating this burger, clanging and clashing against each other like rapiers (en garde!) I’m not usually a fan of this (especially for burgers) because I think it detracts from the more tactile experience of holding the thing with your bare hands. Fork/knife feels a little too formal and antithetical to the food itself. Like eating spaghetti with chopsticks (my dad). Did it bother you?
STU: Yeah, I kinda hated having to eat it with silverware (I felt like I was eating through an iron mask). There was a hidden advantage to eating with silverware, though, since I was forced to eat it more slowly. Much like the Count of Monte Cristo himself, I deliberately relished each bite as I methodically Guy Pearced that sucker. It was not complicated. How about that first bite, though? Wasn’t it a bit like chewing on your own mortality?
THU: I’d more readily compare that first bite to the first taste of freedom Edmond feels when he finally manages to escape from the Chateau d’if after being imprisoned for 8 years. Like, “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment and now that it’s arrived, I am going to just go for it.” But to your point about size, nothing can compare to the bliss of that first bite. The first bite is the deepest.
STU: Touche. The Voltaggio Monte Cristo is indeed a sort of “liberating”, and challenging, burger. I would encourage anyone who’s interested (or on the fence) about this invention to try it out. RUN, don’t walk (chances are that you wouldn’t even be able to manage a brisk jog afterwards).
THU: I will have to say that unlike any other Monte Cristo sandwich I’ve had before, I did not hate myself at the end of this experience. In fact, we went to see The LEGO Movie right after this burger, and, well, I think this song best captures how we both felt about this whole Monte Cristo burger experience: