Thursday, March 12, 2009

Burger Tour of NYC Part 1


(Burger at The Spotted Pig)

I recently participated in Burgerpalooza NYC with the team from The Burger Joint in DC. I missed the first three stops (Shake Shack Union Square, Burger, and City Burger), but hit the last four: 5 Napkin Burger, The Spotted Pig, Pop Burger, The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien.

5 Napkin Burger (*** Overall Favorite of the Group ***)
A well designed restaurant with an old school meat locker style. This restaurant has an overall a great selection of very tasty and juicy burgers. We sampled:

  • The Original 5 Napkin Burger (10oz. fresh ground chuck, comte cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary aioli, soft white roll)
  • Italian Turkey Burger (melted mozzarella, spicy tomato sauce, vinegar peppers, sesame egg roll)
  • Lamb Kofta Burger (with chopped tomato, cucumber, pepper & onion salad, tahini sauce, soft white roll)
  • Ahi Tuna Burger (marinated in ginger, scallions & soy with wasabi mayo, tempura fried onions, sesame egg roll)
  • 5 Napkin Veggie Burger (housemade with 5N sauce, b&b pickles, lettuce & tomato, multi grain roll)

The favorites were the Lamb Kofta Burger and the Original 5 Napkin Burger. The lamb burger had mint in it resulting in a fresh tasting, juicy burger. The toppings were successfully incorporated to create a perfectly balanced burger. The Original 5 Napkin Burger is fantastic also - juicy, meaty, cheesy, oniony, all in unison.

The Italian Turkey Burger was a success - very juicy and succulent, not what you normally get with a turkey burger - was it really turkey (chicken?) - how do they keep a thick turkey burger moist? The Ahi Tuna Burger was a disappointment; it sounds great, but was frankly just boring. The Veggie Burger did not hold together and the pickled onions on top were too much.

The french fries were wonderful - perfectly cooked and seasoned - and for me the perfect size: classic french sized french fries.

One final note: the appetizer of deep fried pickles and pastrami with sauerkraut and mustard oil is definitely worth trying. It is a great snack and mouth watering way to start what will undoubtedly be an unhealthy meal.

The Spotted Pig (*** My Personal Favorite ***)

When I think of The Spotted Pig, I do not think of sitting at the bar at 2pm on a Thursday, drinking a glass of water, and sharing one burger with five other people. But we were on a burger tour and managing your food intake was important. The
Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings was outstanding in nearly all ways. I have found when I order burgers or steaks with blue cheese on top that I really enjoy it for about half the portion and then regret the decision. I love the piquancy that Roquefort brings to a classic frizee and lardon salad, but on a burger, the saltiness is too much. The bun was toasted and the burger was grilled to perfection. The shoe string fries have some fresh rosemary added, which imparts a lovely subtle flavor enhancement. They are very tasty, but personally I prefer slightly larger sized fries. One of my companions noted - "I feel less guilty eating shoe string french fries though."

Pop Burger (Concept and Design: Good. Burger: Disappointing)
The design of Pop Burger is very well done: funky Basquiat lithographs on the walls, old school flooring, clever packaging for the burger two pack. Unfortunately, the burger did not live up to the design hype. The two small burgers are well portioned for one person, but they are cooked too well done. They are basically dry little burger pucks with minimal flavor. A couple of the group had been there before and experienced the same level quality, so unfortunately, I do not think this is a one off problem.

The Burger Joint @ Le Parker Meridien
Hidden behind a curtain, down a small corridor, just beyond the concierge desk at Le Parker Meridien in midtown resides The Burger Joint. The decor is classic old style joint found in any college town in the country - and it works really well
juxtaposed against the high design of the hotel. The chocolate milkshake was spot on: thick, creamy, perfect. The lemonade is not tart enough, making it taste almost flat and overly sweet. The burgers and fries were under seasoned, or possibly unseasoned. I think if this had been my first burger of the day and I was hungry, it would have received the more positive reviews that people tend to give this joint. The bun on which the burger is served is a basic grocery store bun though. Maybe I just needed about four beers in me and I would have loved the food - because I really like the decor and style.

More burger reviews to come as I explore and re-visit other classics: Diner in Brooklyn, Corner Bistro, Island Burgers, Shake Shack (UWS)....

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