The Kobe Burger @ The Kitchen Door, Oxbow Market, Napa

Oozing Flavor: The Kobe Burger @ The Kitchen Door, Napa.

Those who have lived in the Napa Valley for the last several years might recognize the Kitchen Door’s Kobe Burger as a vestige of the recently-departed Martini House, which shuttered almost one year ago (October 30th will mark the anniversary). Way back when I was cooking at the Martini House — more than four years ago now — the Kobe Burger was offered as a bar-only item, and was reason enough to drop by the restaurant’s eclectic downstairs lounge. As I had seen on so many nights back then, the Kobe Burger was served with an impressive tower of crispy onion rings, which were laced with just enough curry powder to make them addictive. The spice was completely subtle — I would’ve never even known that curry powder was part of the dry batter — except that a co-worker mentioned it one day.

I worked as a pastry cook while I was at the Martini House, so I never grilled a single Kobe Burger, nor did I ever fry a single onion ring; I dealt exclusively in sweets. However, since the ice creams and sorbets were under my sole jurisdiction most nights, the occasional half- or quarter-burger would appear at my station, typically after a misfire or a mix-up, as barter for a scoop. Yes, I knew the Kobe Burger quite well after a while — it’s the kind of burger that I could always pick out of a line-up, just by its condiments: wine-stewed onions, melted Swiss, secret sauce. For nostalgia’s sake, it’s terrific that chef Todd Humphries has brought his signature Kobe Burger to the Kitchen Door. I’ll continue to quietly petition for the beautiful side of onion rings, though.

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