Elevated junk-food faves star at this new pop-up
“I like to take something people are familiar with and push it down the road,” Matthew Heaggans told me recently. Heaggans was describing potential dishes — such as chicken Parmigiana reconfigured with sweetbreads and a raspberry marinara sauce — that he and his collaborator, Catie Randazzo, are thinking of putting on the menu of Ambrose & Eve, the restaurant named in honor of Randazzo's grandparents that the two chefs plan on opening in 2018.
But Heaggans could've also been describing the approach the duo are taking with their Ambrose & Eve Burger Shack, which operates inside the Three Sheets Brewery District bar. Although launched as a pop-up, the response garnered by the newish Burger Shack has Heaggans and Randazzo thinking that their Three Sheets residence will become a permanent fixture even after Heaggans and Randazzo open their more ambitious iteration of Ambrose and Eve next year.
Three-year-old Three Sheets is an open and roomy tavern with upstairs and downstairs bars; vintage brick walls; super-friendly table service; and a festive atmosphere facilitated by a local-beer-heavy draft list and happy hour specials that run from 3 until 9 p.m., weekdays.
The party favors available on Burger Shack's single page menu celebrate chef-retooled pub grub and scratch-made takes on junk food classics. Staying true to those popular genres, the have-a-splurge fare doesn't shy away from salt or fat.
Take, for instance, a just-fried riff on a vending machine favorite: House Funyuns ($6) — a heaving sackful of golden-brown, oversized onion chips with a crackly batter and pronounced natural sweetness. And rather than mass-produced snacks “sourced” from a freezer bag, the Jalapeno Poppers ($6) are big, handcrafted and appropriately missile-shaped delivery systems for craggy, fun-to-crunch batter encasing fiery chiles armed with a payload of molten cream cheese.
A&E's enormous Hot Chicken Sandwich ($12) presents juicy, tender breast meat seasoned by actual cayenne peppers. The resultant extra fruitiness — plus a surprising hint of ginger — lends the sandwich an almost-herby quality that's an interesting counterpart to its full-throttled heat.
But if you only get one thing here, make it the massive Ambrose & Eve Burger ($11). It's two all-beef patties (thin, griddle-seared), special sauce (mayo-based), lettuce (crisp iceberg), cheese (two slices of melted American), pickles (house-made), onion (red) and tomato on a puffy, sweet bun. In other words, it's something familiar pushed down the road a little.