Bourgeois burgers: A $9.99 sandwich for the 99%?

Nov. 22, 2011 at 8:31 AM ET

BLT Steak /
At $9.99, the 99% burger isn't actually supposed to represent the masses.

We recently delved into what Occupy Wall Street protesters were eating. Amid piles of sandwiches, cups of soup, bags of cookies and mugs of tea, the protesters had made their kitchen in Zuccotti Park quite the setup.

But now we turn to how the other 1 percent eats. At high-end Washington D.C., restaurant BLT Steak, executive chef Victor Albisu is dishing out The 1%: a $58 burger made with eight ounces of Kobe beef short rib, Grey Poupon, gold leaf and a hefty helping of foie gras. “It’s a pretty moderate deal since we put a lot of foie gras on it,” says Albisu. “But really, we are having fun and the burger board menu is just tongue-in-cheek.”

Of course, you couldn’t have a burger for the 1 percent and not one for the rest of the population. So Albisu also does The 99%, which at $9.99 is their cheapest option.

But don't get all up in arms about the price tag. The name is more tongue-in-cheek than anything else, says Albisu, as a $9.99 burger isn’t meant to actually reflect the pocketbooks of the 99 percent. The burger is served patty melt-style with certified Angus beef, whole grain bread and American cheese.

And the political references don’t stop there: After all, before he became a chef, Albisu double-majored in government politics and international affairs. And now he has created 13 themed burgers in the $20 range, including the Red State (dry aged sirloin and horseradish), the Cain(mozzarella, sun-dried tomato ketchup and pepperoni mustard) and the Biden(dry aged meat, sloppy joe, and aged cheddar).

BLT Steak /
The 1% burger is $58 and features Kobe beef and lots of foie gras.

The idea for the politically themed burgers started after Albisu won a contest with an Obama burger. Over the last few months, burgers at BLT Steak have pushed to 30 percent of their sales. The 99% remains one of the most popular, probably because it’s a burger BLT Steak’s clientele can easily afford, while The 1% has only had a few takers.

Ironically, the second most popular burger they serve is the $34 Bi-Partisan, which includes Kobe beef, Maine lobster, white cheddar and a black-truffle-buttermilk dressing. “It’s interesting to watch people order a burger named for something they are against,” says Albisu. 

Linnea Covington is a freelance writer and eater who will try any drink, dish or sweet at least once, especially if it involves chili or bourbon.