Happy 1st Birthday, Elevation Burger Montclair!

The Bloomfield Avenue location of Elevation Burger celebrates a year in Montclair this week, and is the first of its kind in the Garden State. When Jersey Bites stopped in for a visit, we were treated to a tour from co-owner Matt Jerkovich, who emphasized that there’s truth behind the tagline: “Ingredients Matter.”

It’s hard to miss the fact that all the beef served at Elevation Burger is 100% organic: grass fed, free range, and of course, void of any antibiotics or growth promoting hormones. Information about the ingredients is displayed on the walls, explained on the website, and highlighted on the menu. The fries are prepared (in olive oil) as they’re ordered, so nothing is ever just sitting out getting cold. We got a look at the very cool—and lightning fast!—press the staff uses to make each order of fries from a fresh potato. “I really believe in the product,” said Jerkovich. “We have mothers who come in with their children who have never had a burger in their life. They’ll bring them here, and they know what they’re getting. Some kids have never had fries before because they have a gluten allergy. They can have them here. It’s cool to see that.”

He walked us through Elevation’s earth-friendly philosophy, which is reflected not only in the beef, but in the physical space as well. From low/no VOC paint, to bamboo flooring, to ceiling tiles made from recycled materials, Elevation Burger’s efforts to run an as-environmentally-sustainable-as-possible restaurant are an integral part of their day-to-day business.

The list of burger toppings is impressive, as any or all of the following are included for free on every burger: ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, caramelized onions, mustard, mayo, raw onions, Elevation Sauce, balsamic mustard, and hot pepper relish. Jerkovich cited the caramelized onions and hot pepper relish as favorites, and before I could even ask what’s in the Elevation Sauce, he laughed and said, “I’m not at liberty to tell you what it is.” Burgers are served on potato rolls, however, for the carb-conscious set, there’s an option to lose the roll and wrap the patty in lettuce. Jerkovich’s burger of choice? “I’m a beef guy, but I get the Half the Guilt sometimes, which is one veggie patty and one beef patty.”

My fan-of-beef husband joined me for the visit, and he enjoyed the classic Elevation Burger (double meat, double cheddar) with balsamic mustard and Elevation Sauce. I ordered the Veggie Burger #1, and I chose cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, Elevation Sauce, and caramelized onions as my toppings. The Veggie Burger #1 comprises cooked brown rice, sweet yellow corn, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, dried roasted garlic, jalapeño peppers, wheat, mushrooms, red bell peppers, onions, rolled oats, and salt. That was one packed veggie burger but it was manageable to eat and still, shockingly, had an element of lightness to it.

Veggie Burger #2 is Elevation’s vegan option, made with broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, soy protein, yellow bell peppers, canola oil, wheat fiber, vinegar, mustard seed, malted barley, coconut oil, sunflower oil, wheat, mushrooms, red bell peppers, onions, rolled oats, and salt.

The shakes and malts are made with Blue Bunny ice cream, and in an additional effort to reduce waste, Jerkovich explained, they prepare the treats directly in each cup, rather than taking the extra step to make it in another container that would then need to be washed. “We don’t use a lot of milk, so if you like them thick, this is the place for you,” he said. Shakes and malts come in vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, with two free toppings. To celebrate the location’s one-year anniversary, the staff recently came up with the Montclair shake, made with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries, and orange syrup.

On the local level, Elevation Burger hasn’t been shy about getting involved with the community. Recent fundraising nights have benefitted the Montclair High School football team, the YMCA’s swim team, and the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, to name a few. (Strong Kids ensures YMCA membership to kids, regardless of their ability to pay.) “It gets the word out about their cause, and it helps us out, too. We like to give back to the community ,” Jerkovich explained. He went on to recount a highlight from a recent fundraising event. “We offer a Vertigo Burger that goes from three to ten patties, and we had two swim team dudes just pound the ten patties. It was great.”

While we didn’t have room for a Vertigo Burger, we did sample Elevation’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookie, made with organic eggs and butter. Visually reminiscent of a delicious hockey puck more than a cookie, my husband jokingly described the dessert as “a mouthful of buttery goodness.” Actually, I’m not sure how much he was joking.

Toward the back of the location, there’s a raised area that includes a huge picnic table, which Jerkovich refers to as the “communal table.” The area can be used by groups as they come in or for parties, which can be scheduled in advance.

On the ball from a social media perspective, Elevation Burger can be found on Twitter and Facebook, and they run frequent texting-based contests. Take-out orders can be placed online and via Elevation’s iPhone app (a Droid app is in the works). When you stop in, be sure to get a Club 7 Card—for every seven burgers you purchase, the eighth one is free.

The next NJ location is set to open in Moorestown, in Burlington County, in late 2010. Until then, it’s worth the trip to Montclair to check out this innovative spot.

Elevation Burger
367 Bloomfield Avenue

Monday – Thursday: 11am to 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am to 10:00pm
Sunday: 11am to 8pm

Facebook: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54825015059
Twitter: twitter.com/EBMontclair
Enter to win a $25 gift card every other Friday: Text EBCONTEST to 74499 (standard message and data rates apply)

Full disclosure: Elevation Burger invited Jersey Bites and our food was on the house.

Rachel Bozek is a freelance writer and editor based in suburban Essex County. She grew up in Bergen County, and has lost track of how much time she’s spent on LBI and in the Wildwoods. Her search for the perfect pancake continues. www.rachelbozek.com