FM Burger has been a long time coming for Triniti chef/co-owner Ryan Hildebrand. "FM Burger started as a different location and it started as a different concept—it was a much more restaurant-style full blown menu concept, then we tailored it back and it became more of what you see now," he recalls. About a year ago, he and co-owner Chong Yi began work on the old-fashioned icehouse that they'll open late this fall at 1112 Shepherd Drive, just above Washington Avenue.
Though Hildebrand says that his team is likely between 90 and 120 days out from opening, curious burger lovers can already get a taste of what's to come. The FM Burger is available on the bar menu at Triniti in all of its roadside-style glory. The single with cheese is $4.99. The burger centers around a patty that incorporates brisket, chuck and sirloin. The flavor is defined by a "special sauce" that plays a similar role to the aggressive mustard in a Whataburger, but calmed with the addition of mayo. "I’m a mayonnaise guy over a mustard guy when it comes to burgers," he admits.
But in a departure from the scrupulously handcrafted fare at Triniti, Hildebrand is sticking to what tastes best. The beef is ground for the restaurant, but is done by an outside company to ensure consistency; Hildebrand hopes that he'll be able to use 44 Farms beef, but isn't yet certain that will be the case. After experimenting for months with house-made buns, the chef decided on the best: good old Martin's Famous potato rolls. The result is a meaty patty that melts with the sweet, soft bun, tangy sauce and layer of American cheese. The FM name refers to farm roads, and the beef is surrounded in ultra-fresh tomato, lettuce and thinly sliced red onion. That paper wrapping will be replaced by recycled products at the real FM Burger, which will be a theme at the eatery—Hildebrand hopes that the only real environmental impact they'll have is from washing beer and wine glasses.
Yes, there will be wine. A tap system will mean the ability to carry plenty of local beer, but Hildebrand says he's more of a wine drinker when he and his family head to regular haunts West Alabama Ice House or Hughie's. He anticipates FM will have "some type of Coravin system" which will pour wines which are uniformly around $20-25 per bottle. The list won't be limited to Texas but will be an all-American mix of "whites, bubbles and rosés."
Besides the basic burger, Hildebrand's innovations all stick to burger-based takes on Southern favorites. The Twice-Baked Potato Burger "is like the guts of a twice baked potato—butter, cheese, sour cream and bacon all mashed up with tater tots and on a bun with a patty," says Hildebrand. There will be Salisbury Steak and Meatloaf burgers, too. A griddled PB&J has proved popular with the Triniti staff. But the most promising creation may be the chef's Chicken Pot Pie Sandwich. A chicken breast, brined in the same concoction Hildebrand uses for his rightfully beloved Cornish hens at Triniti, are breaded and deep-fried, then covered in carrots, peas, mushrooms, tots and cream gravy. For real. The fries will also make the move up the road from Triniti.
Triniti pastry chef Caroline Ramirez has concocted a menu of milkshakes, cookies and mini pies. The shakes will be based around simple chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams, but with the chef's additions, they're anything but basic. Chocolate is topped with toffee, salted caramel, crunchy chocolate craquants and brownie bites. She's making her own jam to rim the strawberry version, which is bedecked in tiny kisses of puckery raspberry meringue. Handpies will be filled with classics such as apples and Ramirez's "personal favorite," buttermilk. Cookies will include usual suspects, but also what Ramirez calls an "Inventory Cookie," exactly what it sounds like, and a "Viking Cookie," her take on a nut-and-seed-packed Survivor cookie.
Come autumn, customers will be able to indulge in all this indoors or on the patio, backed by green space. "A good icehouse, the ambiance it creates is like being on the water—everyone is just a little bit friendlier," Hildebrand reflects. "You might see a biker sitting next to a businessman, having a great conversation over a beer. Having a burger, it crosses all borders."