When I sat down to watch Mark Mylod’s newest film, The Menu, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. What I there know is that Mylod’s directorial track record has been seriously outstanding to date, with episodes from multiple beloved TV series under his belt, including Shameless, Succession, and even Game of Thrones.
Being a true fan of his craft, and without feeling the need to watch the trailer, I dove right into his latest psychological horror-comedy — empty stomach and all. Despite the film being so heavily focused on death, once it wrapped (no spoiler alerts here, so don’t worry!), I was left feeling oddly hungry and very inspired to cook.
Between scenes of chaotic discomfort, The Menu gives the audience a peek into the kitchen of a notorious chef who peels back the layers of trust and virtue. Chef Slowik, played by Ralph Fiennes, deciphers right from wrong in order to create a dinner menu with which to mock the very guests he has invited. And while the plot itself is enough to talk about, perhaps what seems to have really stolen the show is a scene in which the main character, Margot, asks for a cheeseburger.
What follows after is a beautifully stoic sequence showing the Chef preparing what he considers to be “a very good, very traditional cheeseburger.” And I’ve got to say that everything was spot-on, from the choice of bun down to the cheese, and even the subtle use of condiments. They all hit the standard of what makes a classic cheeseburger. I hadn’t even finished the scene before I was craving one for myself.
After coming across a few tips that the film’s consulting chief, John Benhase, shared with PeopleI couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen and see if the burger would live up to what I imagined it would be.
How to Make the Cheeseburger from The Menu
Start by dividing a pound of freshly ground sirloin into eight balls, making sure to work the meat as little as possible so as not to warm up the fats. Once ready, place each ball onto a cast iron skillet heated over medium to high heat, then flatten out each ball with a sturdy steel flipper. Season as you like, then place shaved yellow onions on the freshly flattened side of each patty.
When ready, use your steel flipper to scrape up under the patty and flip it carefully, keeping the onions underneath where they will begin to cook within the burger fats. While the onions steam, place two slices of American cheese over each patty, allowing the cheese to melt to the point of visual perfection.
As the patties finish cooking, prepare a sesame seed bun by toasting it with emulsified butter, then create a bed of pickles on the bottom bun. Using the steel flipper, stack two patties together and transfer them to the bed of pickles. Add a dollop of ketchup and then carefully press the top bun down on top of it all before watching the juices flow and the cheese glisten. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for recreating an American classic before digging into the first bite!
My Honest Opinion of the Cheeseburger from The Menu
I grew up going to family barbecues and frequenting numerous fast food burger joints, so I sort of fancy myself as a burger connoisseur. What I love most about this recipe is its attention to detail, while still possessing the capability of being a deliciously hot mess.
A fantastic burger to me is one whose juices drip down my face and the ketchup gets stuck in my beard. If I didn’t let out multiple appreciative and suggestive noises throughout the process of eating, then something is most definitely wrong. This cheeseburger from The Menu checks all of my boxes and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. When I think of what makes my taste buds tingle, it’s this cheeseburger. Nobody wants some “fancy deconstructed avant bulls**t,” as Margot says.
In a game where simplicity rules all, this cheeseburger reigns supreme — and it just might be the only way I make one from now on. Kudos to Mark Mylod and his consulting chefs on recreating what I imagine cheeseburger dreams to be made of, and simultaneously solidifying my faith in the classics.
3 Tips for Making the Cheeseburger from The Menu
The Menu is currently streaming on HBO Max.