Bluffton's Fat Patties beckons burger, beer snobs

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If anything good can be said to have come out of the Great Recession, it might be our ongoing obsession with gourmet burgers and craft beer.

What exactly is a gourmet burger? At Fat Patties, it's a perfectly proportioned, hand-crafted 8 ounces of juicy, grass-fed beef on a house-made bun paired with custom toppings in mouth-watering combinations and served with julienne-style rosemary sea salt fries.

Modeled after owner Nick Borreggine's Beaufort establishment by the same name, the Bluffton location hit some zoning snags before finally opening two years ago. Now it's already a landmark near the four-way stop at the intersection of Bluffton, Bruin and May River roads.

Bluffton's Fat Patties is especially family friendly, with local young professionals and retirees in the mix.

The building also incorporates Salt Marsh Brewing, a nanobrewery housed on the second floor, where boutique brews exclusive to Fat Patties are handcrafted in small batches from unique hops and grains and locally sourced ingredients.

Over the bar in the main dining room, you'll see 30 craft beers named and numbered in chalk available for sampling. Current seasonal offerings include Dempsey Farms Strawberry and Slo-Country Session, an IPA described as "the lemonade of beer."

More locally sourced elements make their way onto those gourmet burgers. In addition to the $9 Grass-Fed Beef, Black Bean, Shrimp, Ground Turkey, Chicken Breast, and a Beef and Bacon combo range from $7 to $10. More than a dozen creative combos of toppings are priced from $2 to $3.

Among the most popular are the Virginia V, with pimento cheese, thick cut bacon, slaw and garlic mayo, or the Baby Blue, with blue cheese and caramelized onions.

There is usually a daily special, with a Ball Park BLT with your choice of pattie, bacon, lettuce, fried green tomato and crack jelly on a pretzel bun featured on a recent Tuesday.

While best known for burgers and brews, Fat Patties serves up some stellar salads, including Mixed Greens topped with poached pears, pecans, Kalamata olives and lemon lime vinaigrette, or Mango Tango, with romaine lettuce, mango and black bean salsa, crispy corn tortilla chips and chipotle dressing, each priced at $9.50. Mean Greens tosses together Blue Scotch kale from Bluffton's Three Sisters Farm with dried cranberries, apples, crispy lo mein and avocado poppyseed dressing, $10. Chicken and shrimp can be added to any salad for an additional $4 or $5, respectively.

Brats, fried oysters, wings, tacos and snack offerings round out the menu, priced from about $6 to $15. Fat Pattie's has a full bar and seating outside in the beer garden, where you might catch live entertainment, corn hole, trivia, or Happy Hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

And don't forget the homemade ice cream and hand-spun shakes that can be spiked. The Burnt Marshmallow is to die for.

Freelance writer Pam Gallagher was a copy editor at USA Today and a staff writer and fashion editor for the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press.

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