Scratch-made stuff worth a wait at Scratch Kitchen | Bleader

Scratch-made stuff worth a wait at Scratch Kitchen

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Scratch Burger, scratch-made fries
You'd be surprised how crowded Scratch Kitchen can get on a Wednesday night. Or, no, maybe you wouldn't be surprised. It's a burger place with a gimmick. People love that. Who might've been surprised: the restaurant's management, who only had three people on the clock—a cook, a server, and a busperson—for the bulk of the evening shift. Well, four people, actually. About 45 minutes after my dining companion and I arrived and took seats at the bar a couple weeks ago, one of the owners materialized, explained that he was "running late," and took our order. I'd had a couple of glasses of wine—one of them gratis, either an oversight or to make up for the wait, but who cares—and was feeling uncharacteristically forgiving. But if I was that waitress, that poor, apologetic lady running herself ragged, I might have wrung his neck.

Yeah, so, we caught them on a bad night. Anyway, the proprietors of the newish Forest Park burger joint are doing great considering how high the space's previous occupant set the fuck-up bar (he was apparently nabbed by the DEA for dealing cocaine from the location). Instead of narcotics, Scratch Kitchen's "thing," as their name overtly suggests, is making everything from scratch, right down to the ketchup and mustard. I'm dubious, but more on that in a sec.

Wait time aside, Scratch Kitchen is an exceedingly pleasant little place. It's cozy, filled with televisions (which I find comforting because I was raised by one), and they play good music. The TV in front of us was tuned to the Food Network, which I take as subliminal suggestion to alert that dinglebag Guy Fieri to their presence. Do we still like making fun of Guy Fieri? That felt really boring. Anyway, the bar wraps around the open kitchen, creating a sort of hearth that smells of charbroiled meat. They only serve canned beer and box wine. I'm into pushing back against pretension.

Still, their signature Scratch Burger is made with "truffled arugula," which I assume is arugula drizzled with truffle oil. I know. I knoooooow how people feel about truffle oil. It's overused. It tastes like chemicals. It kills Iraq war veterans and kicks wheelchair-bound people in their shins. If it's used sparingly, I don't mind it, and it was used sparingly here. Of the three bun options—pretzel, potato, or butter— we went with pretzel because it's what the menu recommended. I don't like pretzel buns. I don't even like the phrase "pretzel bun." They're usually too dense, kinda dry, and they overpower the flavor and texture of a burger patty or whatever is shoved inside one. Scratch's pretzel bun was a nice surprise. It was lighter, chewier, and a lot like a ballpark soft pretzel with its slick exterior, which I think most pretzel buns aspire to, but usually botch. The house-ground patty was really, really tasty—cooked through, but juicy and really flavorful (if a little salty). Blue cheese adds another salty punch, but the bite is good distraction.

In adherence with a theme, the fries are hand cut, and a bottle each of homemade ketchup and homemade mustard stand at the ready. So, yeah, back to the scratch-made condiments. I don't know. The ketchup is an awful lot like store-bought stuff in texture and taste, although it's like something's been added. Worcestershire, maybe? Then the mustard. Listen. While we were eating, I grabbed the owner to triple-check that the condiments are made from scratch, and he said they are. I'm not going to say he was being untruthful. What I will say is that if they set out to make mustard that is identical in every way to Heinz yellow mustard, they are a runaway success. Of course, it also seems like an enormous waste of time because you can get that shit at Costco for, like, free.

But, hey. You have to have a "thing." And their "thing" seems to be working.

Scratch Kitchen, 7445 Madison, Forest Park, 708-689-8427, scratchfp.com

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