Not Your Ordinary Burger Joint

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - July 23, 2008
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Wes Zane
Wes Zane

The last time Wes Zane won an award for a burger was 1992, when PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) awarded his nascent vegetarian burger store, (Mr. Goodburger), a “Golden Bun” award. If those same representatives came to lunch at Zane’s newly opened Burgers on the Edge, they might not be so ready with the accolades.

“We’re a couple of steak guys who love to eat and who know what tastes good,” says Zane, of he and partner (ex-Hy’s Steak House chef) Almar Arcano.

Burgers on the Edge lives up to its name in both proximity to the sidewalk on Kapahulu Avenue and in food combinations like Wagyu (Kobe) beef and foie gras.

“We liked the name,” says Zane, who has always demonstrated a keen eye for restaurant graphics and a consciousness of cool (the two also own Formaggio Wine Bar and Formaggio Grill).

And the concept of a burger joint might seem easy, but for Zane, a well-known veteran of the restaurant industry in Hawaii, simple is not an option. “I wanted to have something like the In-N-Out concept,” he says of the California-based burger chain, “but I just can’t seem to do something simple.”

So while those looking for a bargain must seek their pleasure elsewhere (average burger price is about $8), foodies who love great steak, gourmet ingredients and dishes with a twist (like incredible shoestring fries with white truffle oil) should head to the edge of Kapahulu Avenue for some serious snacking.

“It’s not your ordinary burger joint,” says Zane, “and we don’t sell burgers for 99 cents. We’re about quality and great taste.”

Quality comes in the form of Wagyu beef, USDA ground chuck, and bread from Chris Miura’s Mauna Kea Baking Company.

“Chef Almar and I designed the burgers with certain flavor profiles that we think the public will enjoy,” says Zane of the dozen burgers that flash mouthwateringly onto a high-definition flat screen as you wait in line. Or customize a burger and choose between ground chuck (on the edge) and Wagyu beef (off the edge), different cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes and a selection of homemade sauces and aioli.

Try the Thanksgiving on a Bun - a bun filled with a turkey patty seasoned with sage, onion and spices and topped with cranberry relish, lettuce and tomato. The burger was as moist and juicy as any I’ve had, and while the bread did get a bit soggy, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that once the baking process is honed, the results should be outstanding. A ground chuck cheese-burger displayed the same tenderness and was juicy and flavorful, with the quality of the ingredients obvious from first bite. Those intent on looking for a good food experience rather than a fast food one should love the tiny 700-square-foot store and all it has to offer.

For gourmands (and those with no budget restrictions), The Parisian is a must. A 1/3-pound Wagyu burger is topped with sliced foie gras, port wine sauce and apple reduction. Zane says foodies are raving, despite its hefty $18.88 price tag. “That’s a good Chinese number,” he says with a grin.

Arcano and Zane are ready to open two more cutting-edge operations in the Kapahulu Safeway Center this August - Caliente Del Sol and Good to Grill. Both will offer the streamlined, 21st century appeal of Burgers on the Edge and both will focus on high quality ingredients and freshly prepared food. Good To Grill will feature kiawe wood-grilled fish, chicken, steaks and a selection of pasta, pizza and salads, and Caliente Del Sol will focus on Mexican-inspired foods, “Although, being Chinese, I can’t guarantee the dishes are like Mom used to make,” jokes Zane.


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