EAST PEORIA — Touting a unique cooking approach, a new gourmet burger place opens Thursday.

The Seared Heifer, 222 Meadows Ave. in East Peoria, bills itself as the "home of the original brick oven burger." Owner Kyle Gorman says the preparation method — created on a whim — seems particular to the new operation.

"I've searched Google, and I've seen nothing like it," Gorman says. "You might find someone doing this on a backyard grill. But I can't find this at any restaurant."

At the Meadows Avenue site, Gorman used to run Cheese Nuts Brickoven Pizzeria. But he moved that business to Junction City, then added a second location, at Northwoods Mall.

But with an eye on the brick oven still on the Meadows Avenue property, he noticed that cook Jermine Allison had a knack for crafting tasty burgers at home. Gorman asked Allison if he wanted to try doing burgers in the brick oven, and a few experiments blew their minds. 

"The brick oven sears in all the juices and flavors," Gorman says. "You can tell a burger was made in a different kind of oven."

Allison will run the new place, which has a soft opening at 4 p.m. Thursday. Thereafter, it will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The menu has an upscale touch, featuring uncommon combos of toppings, plus house-made sauces. Burgers (including hand-cut fries) will run $8.99 to $13.99. The menu also includes chicken wings.