Mémé’s Moroccan-Inspired Kefta Burger

By: Alexandra Harcharek, posted May 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm

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There’s certainly no shortage of fatty-tastic burgers in the city, nor a shortage of great, innovative kitchens. In honor of National Hamburger Month, we took a look at some burgerless menus and decided to challenge some of Philly’s best chefs to create a unique burger worthy of their menu space. Each week in May we’ll hit you with an exclusive interview and review of each handcrafted burger.

Up first: Chef David Katz, owner of rustic-casual restaurant Mémé (2201 Spruce Street).

Katz, a self-described American hamburger traditionalist, accepted his mission and turned out an out-of-the-ordinary Middle Eastern style sandwich, inspired by ingredients left over from a recent Moroccan barbecue. He said he’d recently invited some friends over for a cookout in his upstairs digs, resulting in a few odds and ends. After throwing a quick dinner together with the remaining bits the next day, inspiration struck.

The Moccocan Burger starts with a 6oz meat patty called kefta, a mix of ground beef and lamb traditionally grilled over charcoals. The ground meat is blended with cumin, coriander, parsley, cilantro, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, adding some deep and complex Middle Eastern flavors.

Using recipes passed down through his family, Katz finished it off a hot pepper tomato paste (“an all-purpose Moroccan condiment”) and a cold traditional carrot salad, dressed with lemon and olive oil. This burger plays with flavors and textures well; in one bite you have the warm and distinct flavor of the kefta, in another the cool acidic crunch of carrots. We loved the pepper spread the most, which was spicy and robust enough that it left our lips tingling long after we had finished.

“It’s not entirely traditional,” said Katz. “But this is pretty damn good.”

Notice something different about these photos? That’s right – no glossy, egg-heavy brioche globes here. Everything is nestled between a soft, flour-dusted Snowflake bun, at the chef’s insistence.

“It’s an old school American bun,” he said. “Brioche is bullshit. Just because something is the most trendy doesn’t make it the best.”

You can catch the Moroccan Burger on the Mémé menu all week, for about $8.


Mémé - Moroccan Burger Mémé - Moroccan Burger

2201 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Google Map)

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  • http://juliahays.com Julia Hays

    This is a neat series. Looks like Katz really rose to the challenge too; that burger looks delicious. Any plans to actually add it to the menu?

  • http://twitter.com/mikeyil Mikey

    Might have to confirm by contacting Meme itself but Katz indicated that they'd sell it for a week (this week?) and maybe for the duration of the month. It was delicious. The hot pepper paste stuff was key.

  • Melraquel1

    I grew up eating real Moroccan food that my grandmother (who we call Meme) would make from scratch- recipes passed down to her.. Keftas were always one of my favorites. This one looks delicious…if I'm ever on the east coast again I would love to try this restaurant.

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