I do my best to stay on top of the burger scene in Atlanta, but there’s only so much I can do when I visit just once a month. Every time I’m in town, it seems a dozen more places are winning acclaim for quality patties; it’s impossible to keep track of them all. However, there is one that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, Kaleidoscope Bistro. This seemingly inconspicuous restaurant on Dresden Ave first popped up on my radar when it was covered on Serious Eats and their subsite, A Hamburger Today. Like me, article author Todd Brock was befuddled that Kaleidoscope had won the first annual Battle of the Burgers, beating out some big names like Farm Burger and Grindhouse Killer Burgers. When Brock finally did try the Kaleidoscope special, he was, rightfully so, initially skeptical but he was charmed by the Southern twang of the Kaleidoscope burger. Curious to see if I would experience the same reaction, I looked for any opportunity and early this June, the stars aligned and I was able drop by Kaleidoscope Bistro for a late lunch.
After suffering the slings and arrows of Atlanta Saturday traffic, I arrived late to meet my mother and sister for lunch and I was greeted by a solitary dumpling.
This was no ordinary dumpling; this was a Berkshire pork pot sticker with ginger, toasted sesame, and chili oil.
I thought everyone had chowed down on a plate full of dumplings and left me a pittance, but that wasn’t the case. Apparently this $9 order of dumplings nets you a grand total of three dumplings. Don’t get me wrong, this was a pretty good dumpling; lightly seasoned, juicy, and with just enough seasoning to highlight the flavors of the pork, but nine dollars? I guess that’s the price you pay for high quality ingredients.
There was also an order of crispy Maine calamari waiting at the table.
Fried jalapenos and the Meyer lemon aioli were nice additions to the plate.
True to its name, this calamari was crispy and lightly battered. Perfectly pleasant on its own, this calamari was doomed from the get go when it was lined up next to the third appetizer.
It may be the only Thai dish on the menu, but the Thai style beef jerky was in a league of its own.
I’m a sucker for dry fried beef and prik nam pla and this was beefy, crisp, and pungent. There weren’t any overbearing amounts of sugar or lime, this was beef, fish sauce, and chilies damn near perfected.
All pot stickers, calamari, and fish sauce laden beef aside, in my mind, there was one reason for coming to Kaleidoscope, the burger.
There was no messing around with a single this time, I had learned my lesson at Grindhouse, it was double or nothing.
I did my best to wrangle this behemoth and my first bite was greeted by a pillow soft toasted bun, two beautifully cooked beef patties, and an abundance of rich pimento cheese and crunchy chow chow.
Still pink in the middle, every bite of this burger got me closer and closer to understanding how it won the first annual Battle of the Burgers (http://www.battleoftheburgers.com/).
Fried in duck fat, these were well salted and very well fried. Each fry had the amazing textural contrast of crispy exterior and pillow soft, fluffy interior.
I’m typically a minimalist when it comes to a burger. In my book, there are few things more sublime than the combination of well cooked beef, cheese, a toasted bun, and maybe a healthy dose of smoked bacon, but the Kaleidoscope burger with its crusty, charred patties and lion’s share of pimento cheese makes a compelling argument for an over the top burger. Would I call it Atlanta’s best burger? I’m still not completely sold on that title, but I am sold on it and the rest of Kaleidoscope’s menu. I may have only tried four simple dishes, but each one was well worth the wait. Maybe next time I won’t be running late and I can stay and savor the experience a little more, but it’s nice to know that after months of accumulating expectations, Kaleidoscope Bistro delivered.
Kaleidoscope Bistro Address & Information