The Search for the Holy Grail of Hamburgers Continues … with a little ‘Cue {Day 9 – the Notorious P.I.G. at Martin’s}

  
If you’re a girl like me — a fedora-wearing, fine-food-loving, stiletto-sporting slicker — eventually you’re going to run into a few first-world problems.

Such as:  What if you can’t decide whether you want to eat a pulled-pork barbecue sandwich … or a hamburger?

Fortunately — for a little while longer, at least — you don’t have to choose.  Not if you’re at Martin’s Downtown Bar & Grill, where the burger-of-the-month is the Notorious P.I.G. – a barbecue burger that really goes whole-hog.

(See what I just did there? … Sorry.  Couldn’t help myself. *Wink.*)

  
Before we talk about the burger though, let’s talk about Martin’s — a downtown eatery with a casual, cozy atmosphere and a busy series of live music acts (you can see the itinerary here).  If you’re into burgers, Martin’s is also a great place to be on Monday nights, when the full burger lineup is half price.

There are several burgers here that I happen to like a lot, including the Southern Belle — with smoked gouda pimiento cheese, sautéed onions, hardwood-smoked bacon and even a fried green tomato on top.  There’s also the Black & Bleu Ridge, with cajun seasoning, bleu cheese and bacon jam. (Yes, you read that right. I said “bacon jam”).

But perhaps one of the best things about Martin’s is that you can choose your patty  — not just the half-pound signature beef, but also the turkey burger, the chicken breast, or a vegan burger with a whole lot of loveliness in it (brown rice, quinoa, bulgur and black beans, for starters).  For $2.49 extra, you can swap out your patty for grass-fed, Carolina-farm-raised bison.

I love these options, but one of the things I love most is Martin’s monthly special  — a rotating selection of more unusual burger concoctions like the Notorious P.I.G. I’d never tried that one before, so last night was a first.

While there are a lot of barbecue-topped burgers in the Roanoke Valley, this one doubles down on the whole pork theme by adding bacon and using ground pork for the patty, too.  The barbecue on top is mild, but meaty, with generous chunks of Southern goodness.  There’s even a little bit of coleslaw in the mix.

 
If I were to do one thing to make this burger a little bit more magical, next time I’d ask for a side of (spicy) sauce.  Pork burgers tend to be a touch drier than beef, so that seems like a natural choice. I like my barbecue both saucy and … sassy … so if that sauce happened to be the bracing, vinegar-and-pepper stuff of the Carolina variety, I wouldn’t complain.

Not that I’m complaining.  I polished off my burger in style, as did my friend Ashley (yes, there were two of us), who made her California Burger disappear in no time, and looked pretty happy about it too:

  
So now that we’ve got that first-world problem solved, that brings us back to the one we started on:  where *is* the Holy Grail of Hamburgers in the ‘Noke?

We’ve got five days left for the search, and I can’t wait to find out!

–Ashley

 

 

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