The meat sweats are a real thing.
I always thought they were some sort of epicurean urban legend or the fictional legacy of Joey Tribbiani. But no, the affliction is very real—and very damn delicious.
Stack City Burger Bar, the latest installment in the Hyde Park group’s takeover of the Short North Cap, opened last month to a welcoming public. The Cleveland-based business’ foray into the non-white-table-cloth restaurant milieu looks to be a success right out the gate.
On the day of the meat sweats, (614) photographer Chris Casella and I stopped in to try some food, take some pictures, and talk burgers. And when all this food is laid out in front of you, well, what else is there to do but eat it … all?
Stack City chef Dave Culi remembers trying at least 100 different types of combinations.
“I’m not kidding,” he laughed, patting his stomach. “It’s been a lot of fun.” There are currently nine patties on the menu, within a rotating list of at least 30. Some will show up as specials, while others will move on and off the menu with the seasons or in response to customer demand. There are also non-beef options such as lamb, turkey, mortadella, veggie, and salmon, all ranging in price from $6.50 to $12, with add-ons such as a fried egg and smoked bacon. Those with gluten issues can order a burger as a “stripper,” stripped of the bun and served in a lettuce wrap.
“I love avocado so the California Dreaming is my favorite,” Culi said, a tattoo of chef’s knives and a frying pan in a skull and crossbones peeking out from under his chef’s coat. “We spent a lot of time working on the burger blend and playing with the fat content—it’s so funny, we’re such perfectionists, we want to make something that will today taste the same another day. Integrity is a big thing.”
Stack City is working against the perception that all Hyde Park group restaurants are expensive. “The best feedback we’ve gotten is the approachability of the price,” said John Poggemeyer, beverage manager. “People worry that it might be a $23 Hyde Park burger.”
And if a burger isn’t what you’re feelin’ right now, the appetizer section is in a gluttonous class all its own. Buffalo chicken stack chips ($8) feature a mountain of homemade chips, with a Buffalo sauce that grows hotter, but never blows out your taste buds, crowned with celery shavings. High Street Fries are loaded with sticky sweet pulled pork, Cheez Whiz, and diced dill pickle that could feed a Pop Warner football team for $8.
For your health-conscious, or vegetarian friends, there are huge salads on the menu as well, $5.50-8.00. Scott Buttari, king salad wrangler, points to the Super Salad with kale, Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage and cashews as an option. “Stack City is a different clientele [than the Hyde Park patron],” Buttari said. “We’re attracting a younger crowd.”
In addition to the dinner and happy hour offerings, there is a special brunch menu served on the weekends. Stack City’s entry in the chicken and waffles game is heavier on the crispy and lighter on the cloying sweetness than other versions and is worth its relatively small price tag of $7.50. Joined by a Bloody Mary selection with a heat scale, the menu is small and designed for providing a maximum hangover cure-all.
The beverage program is fun and not too serious. Poggemeyer spearheaded the quest for the best milkshakes eh-ver to highlight on the menu. “My wife, my four little boys, we are done with milkshakes for a while,” he said. After going through a variety of flavors—a s’mores version fell by the wayside on the journey—five shakes that can be served virgin or with liquor, and two spirits-only shakes made the cut ($5-8). The Biscoff, a cookie butter shake, is gorgeous—smooth with a little cookie crunch and oddly, but pleasingly, buttery.
There are also 16 beers on draft, with 10 featured local brews. “Our growler program is really popular,” Poggemeyer said. “Some locals, like Zauber, only sell in kegs so this is a great way to bring it home.”
And, side benefit, a cold beer is the best cure for the meat sweats.
Stack City Burger Bar is located at 600 N High St.