Get your burger fix at the Hills Markets' latest pop-up
All her life, Alex Chamberlain has been obsessed with cheeseburgers. And that was the problem.
When the Columbus native moved home from the East Coast two years ago, she couldn't find the locally sourced, grass-fed beef she wanted to craft the perfect cheeseburger at home. Her search led Chamberlain-who'd spent roughly a decade working in local and sustainable foods in Vermont and Boston-to the doorstop of cattle famer Phil Greenlee.
"When I knocked on his door, I know I scared him half to death," says Chamberlain, who convinced Greenlee to grow his heritage herd of Lowline Angus cattle so they could launch wholesale meat purveyor Ohio Pasture Proud. The now two-year-old company sells pasture-raised chicken and grass-fed beef in freezer cases at The Hills Market, Weiland's Market and Huffman's Market, and to a few area restaurants, including Skillet and The Table.
Through July, you can sample Chamberlain's enthusiasm for a great cheeseburger at a twice-a-week pop-up burger shop she's hosting at both Hills Market locations. On the menu are three quarter-pound burgers made with Ohio Pasture Proud's ground beef. There's her signature: all-American cheeseburger classic The Duchess ($6), which tastes the way every you wish every fast food burger did-wonderfully greasy and flavorful, but without all the excess fat. Also on the men are the Thai-ger Burger ($8), a sweet-and-spicy Thai-style burger spiced with fresh ginger and teriyaki; and the Meatball ($8), which turns a classic all-beef meatball (a friend's family recipe she had to "give a pint of blood" to get) into a burger patty.
"My style of burger is a smash-ball or diner style," says Chamberlain, whose burger style is largely inspired by her grandfather, Bob Evans. The Duchess is an ode to the Dutch Boy burger on the menu at a drive-in Evans once owned. "The sauce is a variation of the original Dutch Boy sauce. I've modernized it, added some secret ingredients in there."
But the real star is the beef- a mix of sirloin, chuck and brisket. "From a burger standpoint, you get a great beef flavor," Chamerlain says of her product. "It's not overpowering. A lot of people think grass-fed beef is really dry. It won't be as fatty, but it's still very juicy. This is what I remember beef tasting like."
Look for changes to the pop-up eatery's menu as the summer progresses, including steak sandwiches and chicken brats on the Worthington menu. If the run proves popular, Chamberlain says she'll extend it. "If people are enjoying it I'll be back. If the people want it, they shall have it," she says.
The pop-up runs 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thu at The Hills Market Downtown, 95 N. Grant Ave., Downtown; 5 to 8 p.m. Fri at The Hills Market Worthington, 7860 Olentangy River Road, Worthington.