Elvis died early, but, he made the most of his short life. He wore glittery jumpsuits, hung out with Nixon, had a private jet with a state of the art eight track player and his own super-estate, aka Graceland. Culinarily speaking, he totally didn’t GAF. I mean the guy’s favorite sandwich was reportedly peanut butter, bacon and banana on white bread, maybe, sometimes deep fried.
Unlike Elvis, and because I’m a food writer, I totally give lots of Fs, when it comes to food. Cooking and eating is my delicious obsession. As such, intellectually I’d thought many times about Elvis’s predilection for mixing crazy stuff. And while I’m a believer in the what many consider strange flavor combinations, like say soy sauce and chocolate (yep), I still felt Elvis’s choice was probably just a bad drunken amphetamine-fueled fantasy that was as pointless as his notorious habit of shooting TVs with guns, so I never really tried the combo.
But, then I recently found myself at Fizz eatery, a neo-soda fountain meets kitschy diner on Chicago’s Northwest side faced with a menu touting the Fat Elvis. It was in a section titled “burgers”, but the menu didn’t explicitly say it was a burger, so initially I thought it was just an exception that was a sandwich. Incredulous, I asked the server if it was a burger. Her eyes widened like a Powerpuff Girl and she breathlessly exclaimed, “YES!”. My imperfect memory swears she started salivating like a Pavlovian puppy. That last part probably didn’t happen, but I could see, like a teenager issuing a major challenge during a heavy session of Truth or Dare, she was saying that if I didn’t try the burger, she would lose all faith in me as a human being.
Still, I paused, because not only were the Fizz cooks mixing pork, peanut butter, and banana, but they were now introducing smoky grilled beef and a pillowy, custard-rich brioche bun. But, YOLO, right? I’ve eaten goat eyeball tacos at the Maxwell Street Market before. Eating a Fat Elvis would be a comparative cake walk.
The Fat Elvis turned out to be a glorious case of getting my cake and eating it too. Executive chef and General Manager Joshua Bushnick has been working in restaurants for over 30 years. He’s picked up a few tricks, like using a proprietary beef grind of chuck, short rib, and brisket in a 78 to 22 ratio of muscle to fat (typical is 80/20). Beckwith says that extra 2% makes a big difference in retaining juices while the patties are caramelized on a flat top griddle. Bananas too are caramelized crispy on one side and then drizzled with peanut butter that runs down the patty in hot creamy ribbons. Add in the bacon and it’s a gooey mess of salt on salt and fat on fat that warms your inner child, while laying down a satisfied opiate-like trance on your stomach and your soul.
Worth the trip: Fat Elvis burger from Fizz ($11)
7958 W. Belmont; 773.839.3499
This article first appeared in Redeye Chicago in a different form.