Find Your Way To Scratch Kitchen And Discover What Scratch Means
By The BaldOne
In the wonderful world of social media there are three things that are guaranteed to draw views. Those three items are burgers, bacon, and pizza. Burgers it seems, have become the standard measure for local restaurants. Everybody offers them and bacon is expected to be offered as an option.
This past Saturday we had a jones for a bacon-cheeseburger. After reviewing the myriad options it was decided that if bacon was in the mix we should visit the place in Salem that cures their own. Scratch Kitchen is the place. Bill at Scratch cures bacon all of the time, not just for specials or when the mood strikes. He is always curing bacon, and it is always on the menu in various dishes.
There were a few tables occupied when we entered and the staff greeted us promptly offering a choice of the empty tables. Selecting a table by the window we were informed that everything at Scratch is indeed made from scratch.
After selecting a cold beer from Notch Brewing we looked at the menu. It has plenty on it. Bacon dusted popcorn as a starter, and a selection of creative sandwiches and salads. The burger selections seems simple as only two are offered, but the offer options make for an interesting read. One is a just called a Burger and the other is the Scratch Burger. Both are made with 100% organic beef from Maine Family Farms. The Scratch Burger comes with the house-made Bacon Jam and Vermont Cheddar Cheese. The Burger offers some cheese options, bacon, a fried egg, jalapeño, sweet-heat pepper relish, sauerkraut or cole-slaw.
The selection was the Burger, with Vermont cheddar and bacon cooked medium-rare. Buttermilk dipped onion rings sounded were the chosen side although the house-cooked kettle potato chips and the Toasted Sesame Jasmine Rice were both quite tempting.
Before we get to the burger let’s touch on the ketchup and the spicy mustard. The Scratch concept applies there also. Both are made in house. The ketchup is a little darker in color than what is typical. It is not as sweet as your store brands and features a nice little tangy touch with a slight hint of spice. Polite questioning revealed that the spice is a mix of cinnamon, clove, allspice, and star anise. The mustard was lighter in color than expected but had real flavor and was very complimentary to the burger.
The arrival of the 1/2 pound burger came with a surprise. The small order of onion rings was enough for two. They came in a a plastic planting bucket and and had a few pieces of fried squash mixed in. These onion rings are worth a trip to Scratch Kitchen all by themselves. The wonderful ketchup with cinnamon and star anise moved them into the realm of the greats.
We could spend a lot of time telling you about the delicious, properly cooked, tasty and juicy burger. How many ways are there to say that a burger was beautiful in all the ways a burger should be? Should we start with fresh and lightly toasted bun? Would a description of the juices escaping from the nice pink interior be in order? Perhaps a few words on how all of the flavors and textures blended perfectly would help? What of the wonderful hose pickle mix? Have we mentioned the bacon…. the bacon….. the bacon?
The location, underneath the South Harbor Garage where Derby Street and Congress Street meet Hawthorne Boulevard is actually a good people watching spot, but some of the best people watching is provided by watching the staff. Then cover the room in a friendly but not obtrusive manner and are quick to answer questions. They can banter about the food well and truly seem to enjoy the work.
Let us say this. In a town full of burgers, some of them very good, and a few that occasionally approach burger greatness, Scratch is in the game. We will have to try them again, after all greatness requires consistency.
Do yourself a favor and try them out for yourself.