Many people in Portugal have referred to me as a non-stereotypical American – one that often frequents McDonalds wherever they are in the world. However, truth be told, I love a delicious, well-made burger every now and again. And it is myÂ personal belief that America is the king of tasty burgers.Â So when a Portuguese friend of mine told me I needed to try a specific burger joint here in Portugal, my reaction was, “Burgers? You want to take me to a Portuguese burger joint??”Â I already had the unfortunate encounter of seeing the Portuguese’s interpretation of an American 50’s style diner that served some flimsy, pathetic looking tasteless burgers. So you can imagine my skepticism when the offer was extended, but he swore that the burgers were incredible, and in fact, gourmet! The ambiance still honored the traditional fast food/cafeteria style, but with a twist: burgers with foie gras! Despite my doubt, I followed his lead.
Meeting at the Saldanha Residencia Mall, in the food court, we meandored into H3. H3 is a stylish looking fast food joint boasting ofÂ “not so fast food” with burgers made in house from 100% fresh Carne Novilho (similar to Portuguese angus beef) and grilled with sea salt. What’s peculiar, from an American standpoint, is that the burgers have no bun! A hamburger without a bun is like Oreos without milk! Somehow, it seems sacreligious. I was informed that this was the traditional way in which the Portuguese made their burgers. Wait, burgers are traditional in Portuguese cuisine?? Apparently, instead of using the typical toppings of cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup etc, in many Portuguese homes, families drown their burgers in a rich cream sauce or variation on the egg. Hence, H3 features most of its burgers in the traditional style, including the H3 “Champingon” (mushrooms) and the H3 “Tuga” – a burger smothered in a very dark and rich “Molho a Portuguesa” with whole roasted garlic cloves, bay leaf and a fried egg. The none tradicional Portuguese burgers included the “Benedict”, a play on Eggs Benedict with a poached egg drizzled with Hollandaise sauce surrounded in sautéed spinach, and the H3 “Cheese” burger smothered in a cream cheese sauce with grilled onions, ketchup and old fashioned mustard on the side.
But I was here to see about this foie gras burger. The H3 “French” contains a healthy sized portion of seared foie gras with onion confit and a port reduction drizzled along a stark white plate.Â Selling at 9 euros for the value menu (with beverage), it’s the most expensive burger on the menu, and a steal! It was so delicious, it felt slightly criminal to eat it in a crowded food court cafeteria!
So did we have the typical side of French fries with our burgers? Goodness no! H3 offers gourmet alternatives, such as homemade potato chips or Thai rice. I chose the Thai rice with my foie burger, which was absolutely spectacular. Paired with one of their many Portuguese wines by the glass, and you have a the perfect gourmet-ish meal.
To be honest, it was a surreal experience to dine at H3.Â After 24 years of living in the USA, and countless experiences eating burgers of all types (including McDonalds of course, I admit!), I would never imagine H3 being the best burger experience I’ve had to date!Â So watch out America, you’ve got some serious competition coming your way!
To H3, for converting diehard burger afficiandos,