When my colleague informed me earlier this month that The Parlor on Commerce had closed, I felt genuinely sad. Not because it was a historic landmark that had been there for ages, or even because it was in my rotation of frequently visited watering-holes, or even even because I had become chummy with the bartenders. (Although, I’m sure if I had stopped in more often, that would have been the case—those dudes were nice.) My grief stemmed from the loss of one specific menu item: the patty melt.
A pink-in-the-middle ground beef patty topped with sticky caramelized onions and gooey American cheese was sandwiched between two slices of butter-soaked Village Baking Co. sourdough. Yeah, sure, it’s not traditional. Rye bread and Swiss cheese were nowhere to be found. But the bar’s take on the American staple was delightful.
Instead of lamenting the loss, I took action. This is a big city, crowded with restaurants, and at some of those restaurants, patty melts await. There are other avenues in which to find happiness in the form of a ground beef sandwich, and I wasn’t going to stop until I did.
Some of my findings were straightforward and so-so. Others took culinary improvisation too far (Aioli? On a patty melt? Get out of here), and a few were so terrible that I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemies. Kidding! I would love to watch them squirm as they choke down grey hunks of grease-coated cow flesh. But that’s not the point.
I was losing hope until, one dreary afternoon during my lunch break, I found it; the apex of Dallas patty melts. It comes from chef Graham Dodds and can be found on the menu at Overeasy, located inside the newly-renovated and somewhat drippy, Statler Hotel.
Two 3.5-ounce patties from 44 Farms (located in Cameron, Texas) are seasoned with salt and pepper. A thin layer of dijon mustard is spread over the raw meat before it’s cooked on a preheated, oiled flat top. While the patties are sizzling, Dodds spreads a thin layer of Duke’s mayo on two slices of seeded rye from Village Baking Co. and places the bread, mayo-side-down, on the grill until it’s golden brown. A yellow onion is julienned and caramelized in grapeseed oil. After the onion is fully cooked, two sprigs of thyme get added. The patties, which should be slightly pink in the middle, are topped with two slices of gruyere cheese. House-made bacon jam—a syrupy and semi-sweet mix of bacon, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice—is spooned on the top slice of bread. The bottom slice is finished with the cheese-coated patties and onions. Then, it’s all squished together.
“I borrowed the concept of the mustard crust from In-N-Out Burger’s Animal-Style burger,” says Dodds. “That crust really gives such a fantastic flavor. Gruyere from Switzerland seemed very appropriate and to top it off: caramelized onions with a touch of fresh thyme.”
The sandwich is a collaboration between Dodds and Rob McKee, executive chef at Scout (also located inside The Statler). “Rob had been making the bacon jam for our German-style potato salad, as well as the steak and eggs,” says Dodds. “I thought it belonged in this dish, too.”
Melt. My. Heart.