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Doug Clark: Elk’s new reindeer burger goes down in history

Sun., Dec. 22, 2013

Gather ’round, boys and girls.

Uncle Doug has a Christmassy story to share about Santa’s most famous four-legged friend. You know, the one with the shiny red nose?

That’s right: Rudolph!

Well, here’s the thing, kids. I ate him on Friday at the Elk Public House in Browne’s Addition.

But don’t be sad. He was really tasty.

So let’s all sing …

(Bah-dum, dum-dum.)

Rudolph the reindeer burger.

Would likely make a vegan scream.

But when you grill poor Rudy.

He tastes just like a Christmas dream.

For the record, Elk kitchen manager Kevin Russell said he gets his reindeer meat from Alaska, not the North Pole.

So maybe I didn’t eat Rudolph, per se. Maybe it was …

Prancer or Vixen with all of the fixin’s.

Sorry. That damn ditty’s stuck in my brain right now, and with good reason.

Each reindeer burger that server Britney Locati brought to our table came adorned with a plump cherry tomato affixed to the top of the bun.

The tomato was so bright that you might even say it glows.

Anyway, it was an obvious nod to the You Know Who that has been a part of American pop culture since the late 1930s, when the Rudolph yarn first appeared in booklet form.

In 1949, according to my Internet research, cowboy crooner Gene Autry recorded the song that almost instantaneously gained Christmas classic status.

But this is about gluttony, not history.

And you’ll need to act fast if you want to add reindeer to your culinary bucket list.

The burgers, Russell added, will only be on the Elk menu until the day after Christmas, or “until the meat runs out.”

But trust me on this. While the $13.95 price might seem somewhat astronomical by ordinary hamburger standards, this is no ordinary burger.

As it states on the menu: “A lean hand-formed reindeer patty char-grilled and topped with melted mozzarella cheese. Served on a toasted bun with thousand island, lettuce, tomato and onion.”

Mmm. Mmm.

I’ve scarfed a lot of burgers during my life.

Huddy burgers in Coeur d’Alene. The ketchup-only Whammy is my favorite at Dick’s. Ditto the Zip’s “Big Zipper.”

I’ve also consumed burgers made from buffalo, lamb and ostrich and loved them all.

That said, the Elk’s reindeer burger is one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten.

The reindeer* meat has a delicate sweetness that elevates it from all the others. The fact the newspaper will reimburse me for my, ahem, research was pretty sweet, too.

(*Please. I don’t want to hear from any of you Grinchy know-it-alls who want to lecture me about caribou vs. reindeer. This is my Christmas story, after all, so shove it!)

The reindeer burgers come with tomato bisque soup, for which I substituted a delicious and zippy corn pasta.

All in all, I couldn’t have been any jollier.

True, the Santa hat I was wearing might have helped put me in a good mood. But it was definitely the reindeer burger that kept me there.

Next Christmas season could be even merrier at the Elk.

I asked Russell if he could get some genuine elf for an elvish pudding or yummy meatloaf.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he promised.

So until next year, Merry Christmas to all and bon appetit!

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or Follow him on Twitter at @thedougclark.

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