Fast Food Wagyu?

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High dining has made a habit of stealing inspiration from the low-brow with dishes like Grant Achatz's liquid caramel corn and reformatted PB&J at Alinea, America's molecular gastronomy mecca. But, recent food innovation from Burger King finds fast food transplanting the gourmet from white linen to a high street chain, proving that category bending is fair game up and down the culinary spectrum. The new BK burger, only available in London, is crafted from rare and coveted ingredients and carries a price tag that topples haute chef Daniel Boulud's truffle burger as the most expensive in the world.

In June, Burger King served the first limited edition burgers for £95 (about $190) each at the Gloucester Road restaurant in London. Still served in a foil wrapper, "The Burger," as it's been coined, is made of flame-grilled Wagyu beef, topped with Cristal champagne onion straws, white truffles, Pata Negra ham, Modena balsamic vinegar, pink Himalayan rock salt and organic white wine- and shallot-infused mayonnaise, all nested in an Iranian saffron dusted bun and accompanied by a complimentary glass of wine.

"The Burger" was only available for one day at the store in Kensington, a neighborhood that has also sustained big price-tag gourmet sandwiches at retailers Harrods and Selfridges, but can be pre-ordered via a hotline to be served only on Thursdays at the restaurant. All proceeds from burger sales will go to a London children's charity.

"The main message that I'm trying to communicate to the brand, being a chef, is quality," says the burger's creator Mark Dowding, Burger King EMEA's director of new product development and innovation. "Everything we do in Burger King, whether it's serving a Whopper or a £95 burger is defined around that. This was a food initiative. I want us to have a food culture in the business. It's also about reinforcing the quality of what we've already got on the menu."

Earlier this year, competitor McDonald's supported efforts to appeal to up-market customers in London with new employee uniforms by fashion designer Bruce Oldfield (he was a favorite of Princess Diana) featuring muted colors, pencil skirts and heels for women and suits for men, a move that follows refreshed, mod interiors in McDonald's restaurants and a sourcing push for higher quality products.

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