I recently had the pleasure of a mid-day lunch with a friend. You are probably  thinking Soho or West Village??  No -Midtown! The home of the lunch packed deli with overpriced chopped salads. Where the infamous tourist hotel restaurants with  zombie-like waiters push a $24 eggs Benedict and free mimosa’s watered down with cheap champagne-but wait …. things a looking up- we now have Lexington Brass! The outpost of Abe and Arthurs fame. A sprawling campus of luxury, beautiful people and educated  servers that know the food which is  damn good !
 
According to the NY Magazine, “Lexington Brass will not blow your mind” , but I beg to differ! We started with a generous portion of crab stuffed fried oysters-, crispy, plump, and  delicious. We then added  the Lobster Mac and cheese which was  a creamy symphony of cheese and elbows, chunks of lobster studded through a mound of goodness and  topped with a crispy crust- good enough for Kid Rock, good enough for me!
 
 
As you gaze around the plush bistro , you see a setting of  tan leather banquettes with  glass, modern fittings A great setting to  gorge on  delightful Tuna tacos with guacamole and chili aioli as well as hearty French Onion soup with a sherry broth and a perfectly executed Caesar salad.  I could have pushed away from the table and called it a day-but wait- I  cannot forgot the real reason that I came here … the burger!!  Had I saved enough room to sink my teeth into this  meaty monolith of goodness?? Of course I had ! Sure enough, the burger arrived with a golden brown basket of parmesan truffle fries and  I was happy. The burger was served on a gigantic brioche bun  with a patty blanketed in melting cheese and topped with crispy fried onions, Bibb lettuce and tomato. The burger was pretty much, dare I say, Awesome! Excellent ingredients and obviously cooked by a grill cook that  has  cooked a few ,no doubt! Lexington Brass does good food right- It is well worth a try !
 
Lunch Menu
 
Dinner Menu


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Lexington Brass

On a beautiful day: I travelled to Long Island City, Hunters Point to be exact, to Chef Ian Kapitan’s new spot Alobar. I was reluctant that such grande cuisine would exist in Long Island City-I was wrong!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alobar, a beautiful restaurant, with large open seating windows, stressed wood ceilings, a long marble bar that evokes a bright airy dining room space. Alobar was started by Jeff Blath (Jane) and Lisa Kalick (a physcian). In the kitchen, Chef Ian Kapitan’s menu boasts the gammit of all elevated comfort meat and seafood dishes, especially PORK! You’ll find a decadent charcuterie plate with piles of sweet norcino salami, Virginia prosciutto, boar & hazelnut patè, theres a Duck Confit “sloppy joe” with smoked ricotta, truffle, red wine onions, topped with sunny side up duck egg and mixed greens.You may want to try the Mac & Cheese “Carbonara” with four cheese blend, pancetta, truffle braised egg? All these items are reason to go to Alobar-but my quest here was the burger!
 
 
Coined the Hunters Point Burger, Chef Ian concocts a behemoth like stack-of typical burger toppings- except done exceptionally! there’s a moist patty, blanketed with warm creamy melted cheddar, smoked balsamic onions, spicy pickles and beer battered bacon-Yes! beer battered bacon. It that wasn’t enough to satisfy your flavor addiction, it comes with a heaping bowl of-skin on- truffle fries. The burger arrived and already I was excited over the crispy slabs of beer battered fried bacon that my mouth wasn’t going to wait long to dig in.
The crunch of that beer battered porky goodness resting upon a juicy plump patty was need I say-the sexiest thing I’ve tasted in a long while. The robust sweetness of the onions and the creamy silkiness of a high quality cheddar was welcoming and extremely good.
 
Alobar is a snout to tail, meaty poolooza of a restaurant with a comfort sensibility to the palate . Everything here is good, it’s so good-it’s almost bad! You’ll enjoy every guilt ridden bite into flavor town. Well done Alobar!
 


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Alobar

Recently I made the transformation of my burger exploits to the YouTube world, I went back to the tried and true burger artisans at Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen-and I put it on film!
 


 
On a recent trip to the Opera, in Brooklyn no less-and yes- the DMANBURGER has culture ! I was forced to put aside my aspirations of an elevated meal prior to a saturated artistic evening. Having not made a reservation first, was a big mistake because we never knew this oasis of over- crowed restaurants in Ft. Greene existed. As an alternative, I was hoping to get into the likes of the Smoke Joint, and maybe chow down on a plate of ribs and multiple side of collard greens , cornbread and baked beans, perhaps a succulent steak frites from Cafe Lafayette. But much to my disappointment I was shunned away because of “no tables for the rest of the night”-lucky them. After a long trek in the rain, restaurant after restaurant but to no avail would my taste buds be satisfied. I wasn’t in the mood for a burger, especially before the Opera, I felt I should have something more. Drenched and annoyed , I succumbed to 67 Burger, with negativity that my snarky palate could not be satisfied ….I was wrong….! The burger was pretty damn good!  My first impression of 67 Burger was a well organized chaos. Attractive, young hipsters behind the counter dealing with the craziness with poise which made me feel happy and comforting. The menu here is simple- a list of juicy burgers either from the signature creations or an ala carte version-pick your toppings and choice of either beef, turkey, grilled chicken or the dreaded and a pointless veggie burger- why bother?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here at this bustling little community of burger fanatics are all sorts, families with screaming kids, a skateboarder clearly happy, an awkward first date and a lonesome guy on a rainy night, clearly cheered up by his first bite into simple burger pleasure. The aforementioned gleeful staff greets you and simultaneously brands you with a steel staff with a number so after a short wait, I hear “number 14″ then you are sitting. My choice was the signature 67 burger ($9.25), a large 7oz. patty dripping with fat and meaty juices and dollop with creamy blue cheese and crispy slabs of smoked bacon, placed beneath.
 
The 67 burger was a party in the mouth, the funky goodness of the cheese and the crispy pork love, that is bacon, all complemented by a solid pairing of a fluffy muffin tin baked sesame bun, fresh tomatoes, thin sliced red onions, whole leaf lettuce and thick crinkle cut garlic pickles.67 burger is not without creation; get the Oaxaca burger ($10.00) a plump burger with the fresh avocado slices, homemade chipotle mayo, Cajun spices, and cheddar cheese. The gamut of burger choices don’t stop there! There’s a Greek, Italian and Parisian version of the humble sandwich, a little overkill- but admirable.
 
 
 
Let’s talk the obvious burger accompaniment-the fries. Here they are done well, fried sticks of potatoes that crunch in the mouth with a hint of salt and a soft center. The curly fry, previously created by that sub-par fast food joint Arby’s are done with perfection and showered with a helping of Cajun seasoning.67 Burger delivers a quality burger with superior service and a smile, although it comes with a price. Burger prices are definitely on the high side at this neighborhood burger shack. The everyday burger budget (with a couple of beers) is compromised. Put it this way, my opera ticket for “La Traviata” at the BAM was cheaper than my burger bill.But the juiciness, peppery flavor that you will receive is forgiving.
 


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Posted: March 1, 2012 in a quest for the best burger in NYC, best burger blogs, best burger blogs in nyc, best burgers, best burgers in Brooklyn, best burgers in Manhattan, best burgers in NYC, Food and Wine, Grub Street, New York Times
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Walk into RARE and you are immediately greeted by happy twenty something servers with smiles and cordial quips. The Chelsea RARE location (which I visited) is coupled with the Hilton Hotel on 26th between 6th and 7th. This day, a brisk fall day, the heat from the burger grill was on! In the dining room, plates of juicy burgers were hovering around this multi-plex type dining room, the wafting beef smells were tantalizing, and you wont be able to anticipate the impending slaughter of a good burger. The decor was somewhat barbaric, but cool. Sharp sticks protruding from the walls, a weird cast iron compass like structure dangling over the stairs, barb wire motifs hanging over your head- on the lamps and the columns-that are strategically studded around the vast dining area-this is for sure the stage for a RARE burger experience.
The setting emulates the act-like tearing into a meaty, fleshy burger-the room feels somewhat dungenous, or even masochistic! A feeling like a carnivorous caveman eating and eating till all is extinct. The players of this restaurant are the staff; they make you feel warm and unembarrassed, that your hands and cheeks are covered in burger juices while you attack the beast. Your eyes are forward, elbows are bent, and you’ll adapt these techniques whether you realize it or not- in eating a RARE burger. Your focus, disturbingly, during bite after bite, at the downstairs area may be zeroed in on a cauldron like figure piece, It’s a daunting site! Not knowing what it was, I ask the server “Its hiding the server’s station” he replies.
Contrasting, the upstairs experience is riddled with beautiful latticed wood and subtle over head lighting. A vast bevy of amber sets the scene, downed by seasoned day drinkers and neighboring hotel guests.
One message for diners is savagely but appropriately etched into the wall, a series of sharp steak knives buried into the wall spelling the word “EAT”…. and that’s just what you’ll do here!
RARE is the brainchild of Douglas Boxer, a classic hamburger aficionado understands the true history of this American humble sandwich. Mr. Boxer believes, “you can’t live on burgers alone! That’s why RARE has the most gigantic mound of fries, sweet potato and waffle fries ever known to man to pair with your meaty treat. There’s even a vegetarian version, it’s an earthy slab of Portobello mushroom stuffed with creamy goat cheese and sundried tomatoes-and if that’s not enough? It’s flambéed in the most upper echelon of brown waters….Makers Mark.
I settle in to this burger-dom of excess and love and anxiously await the arrival of a decadent burger experience. There’s so much to choose from here,should I go “Classic” or ” M&M” or an homage to the first burger in America,” Louis Lunch” a secret blend of patty plunked on crispy white toast and smeared with sharp cheddar. And just like the New Haven original, don’t even think of asking for ketchup!
As much as thought of recreating my Louis Lunch experience, I opted for some of RARE’S offerings. I get the “Classic” a goliath of beef from Dakota Organic Beef farms; it’s married with your typical toppings but substituted with a delicious yellow tomato. The first bite was moist, those seasonings and freshness really came out in the meat. It was stacked with flavor as was the patty and toppings-a definite hand sprain! Next up I had to incorporate the mother of all condiments….can you guess? Yes bacon! The “M&M”, like its vegetarian counterpart, it’s doused in Makers Mark and served up table size with sweet caramelized onions, sharp cheddar cheese and thick blanket size slabs of Applewood smoke bacon-PORKALICIOUS!
Can we talk about fries? Mr. Boxer (as I mentioned before) felt the need to smother his customers with that crispy potato side dish, except, this is more lime a meal than a side! A tower of all sorts of fries come table side with 3 great sauces for dipping. If all this is not enough flavor, try some of the toppings for your burger like truffle butter, fried japapenos, Candaian bacon, Prosciutto and a fried egg to name a few.
RARE is a rare find in New York, I was skeptical at first, but the burgers definitely delivered and I must say, was one of my favorites I’ve had in my quest for the best burger-Happy Burger eating!


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Posted: December 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Check out the DMANBURGER’S best burger in New York, the quest has been long and still ongoing…but the FOOD Magazine’s crew and writer Jo Piazza caught up with me to snag some inside scoop on my life, history, love for burgers and of course the best burger in New York……and the winner is ? Grab a copy of the latest FOOD Magazine ( with Rocco Dispirito on the cover, and featuring Emeril, Micheal Chiarello, Iron Chef Cat Cora and Alton Brown plus more…. on newstands NOW !!

Geoffrey Zakarian, celebrity chef of hot-spots such as The 21 Club, “44″ at the Royalton, The Blue Door at the Delano in Miami- and one of the few chefs ,at the late Patroon, (I swear I didn’t copy you Mr. Bruni) to score 3 stars from former New York Times restaurant critic and Mistress of Disguise Ruth Reichl. Zakarian now has ventured out with Executive chef Paul Corsentino, and once again, in the hotel bistro sphere with: The National Bar and Dining Rooms. His roots once described as “modern with roots in French” with a temporary semi-circle twist on some good ole  down home grub. Like the Biscuits and Gravy with Duck Confit, Sunny Egg and scallion gravy-and ever so slightly retreats to the traditional Croque Madame.
 
 
Designed by the presitigous Rockwell Group, The National welcomes you with a sweeping staircase, low tones of grey and white and rich leather curved banquette and diamond shaped black and white floor tiling. Sectioned off rooms, drop lighting and a spacious bar reminiscent of a 40′s style Parisienne bistro-complete with a bicyclette scribed with New York’s accomplished culinarians such as Gael Greene and David Burke. Zakarian is no stranger to the burger art of Manhattan, remember the hype of the Town Burger? Will he yet again, stun patrons including “moi” with his beef and bun artistry? We’ll see !
 
 
With the help from legendary and mad beef scientist Pat La Frieda, Zakarian features a sandwich simply called ” Burger” on the menu. The map of the burger is described as ” Homemade pickles,House Sauce and Bibb Lettuce ($15). Pork lovers can add a slab of the pink stuff for an extra ($2). Originally burgers were washed down with Coca Cola, Zakarian opts for a long sexy slender glass of Ice Tea, bobbing up and down are large cubes of Ice Tea flavored ice cubes, and a slice of lemon. The Burger comes on a crusty oversized brioche bun, smack in the center of the plate with bright leafy Bibb lettuce falling out of the side. The aroma of the pickles hit you straightaway, that crisp salty smell, juices glistening in pools around the bun was a good sign. The flavor of the burger was compounded with a light “house sauce” that resemble stewed tomatoes, more than a sauce but nevertheless extremely tasty. Pat La Frieda’s blend was juicy and supple in the center with a strong bite of short rib, brisket and chuck, pickled onions also made an appearance notching the level of flavor way above your average bistro burger. Zakarian comes up trumps with this burger, it is coupled with a silver basket of triple fried french fries and a bottle of the redstuff ( Heinz)you just can’t go wrong.
 

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The National Bar and Dining Rooms on Urbanspoon

Josh Capon is no stranger to the burger world, after rescuing a seemingly past failed Soho locale with a retro marine sushi seafood mega Soho restaurant, in Lure Fish Bar. He later challenged the masses of celebrity chefs in 2009 vying for the coveted title of Best Burger at Rachael Ray’s Burger Bash at the New York Wine and Food Festival. Josh secured the title with his signature Bash Burger which is a Pat La Frieda blend, caramelized onion, bacon jam, shaved pickles, and a secret sauce on a toasted Marty’s sesame seed bun. Soon after his team decided on taking the winning sandwich to the burger addled palette of the masses. Burger and Barrel in Soho was conceived. His brand new bistro is his spring-board for whets sure to be a patent staple in the bistro world. As I entered the brooding low-lit lounge of Burger and Barrel-teaming with foodies, the odd celebrity and happy couples enjoying the last of the summer air-I noticed an interesting addition. At the start of October a funky exclusive funghi seems to wash over the culinary world, of course I’m talking about “White Truffles”. That delectably gorgeous mushroom like morels shaved over a burger with equally luscious robiola cheese. If that wasn’t enough, burger king Josh, tops it with a crispy fried onion ring all on a homemade brioche bun. It is a sexy bistro with friendly staff and an acquired setting of red wines pigeonholed above the bar. Dapper dressed staff greets you while directing to the lounging red chairs comfort your body as well as the food on the menu comforts your stomach.

    

Capon buzzes around the room, personally attending to every table, cracking jokes, making people laugh. He’s running on pure adrenalin, the restaurant has been packed since its opening two weeks ago the sign of a true artisan of culinary feats. His personality is raw but sweet and lovable; he’s the type of guy that would make friends in any situation. I notice another burger maven at the bar, Josh Osersky was in the house, “You gotta order the white truffle burger”, he shouts. Feeling kind of spicy, my first choice was the Puebla Burger a Pat La Frieda blend with roasted poblanos, red onion relish and queso fresco. Much to my chagrin, Capon and Osersky cruised by and convinced me to sample the white truffle burger……that was it I was sold! For starters the creamy flattened out blue cheese wedge was spectacular, the smokey bacon, and chopped tomato was light and pleasantly un-funky as other blue cheese wedges have been in the past for me. Simply fresh, crunch and delightful. The tuna tartare with fried gaufrettes, reminded me of my days at the French Culinary Institute, slicing those things potato after potato and frying them as a shi-shi French instructor lovely look over me…. The tartare was fresh and positively blissful and a superlative dish to start.

 

Our waiter was a “dude”- happy and smiley, with the constant barrage of tables he seemed to glide through his work. Then came a bang! Braised short rib tacos-need I say more? A generous mound of chopped rib meat, glistening in a special sauce topped with crunchy cabbage and various other condiments that you’ll have to visit to experience. I see an elderly man dressed in a leather jacket, sit beside is with two young women, he instructs the waiter before his coat is off his back ” We’ll all have the white truffle burger please” again a positive confirmation of Capon’s talents. The moment of truth arrives, Capon delivers his seasonal truffle concoction personally, I start taking pictures of this beautiful Italo-American creation wanting to get the best view of the patty smothered in creamy robiola cheese and shaved truffles. I’m friendly scalded by Capon,” Just eat the darn thing dude”. I follow interactions and sink my red wine soaked and burger starved mouth into a moist and eye roll back in your head miracle! Minetta Black Label Burger! Huh? Nothing on Capon’s creation, the flavor and succulence is purely brilliant. I find tears welling up in my eyes, like a young boy at his first Christmas. Homemade tater tots and an excellent crispy onion ring speared through the burger are my accoutrements for the dish.

I glance over to the leather guys table near me, and their whole table is in heavenly silence, as they gorge into the same white truffle burger, this tells me I’m not the only one who thought so….. Mr. Capon congratulations!

Burger & Barrel on Urbanspoon


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Upper East Side Tacqeria Cascabel is moving!- but only two doors down to the old Willy’s space! The short move allows owner David Choing to expand into a bar like scene with a larger space. In the spot of Cascabel, Choing is exploring his Cuban/Chinese roots and channeling them into a dumpling shop! ” I want to infuse those great flavors together” says Choing. He makes the switch and opens the new larger Cascabel and the no named, as yet, Dumpling shop-both late September.
 
 
 
 
Gorgeous and delectable Taco and Cascabel photos courtesy of http://phude-nyc.com/ thanks kac ! Bun Apple Tea ! 

With Guide to Career
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Newly opened Blackburn Burger Bistro is situated in busy Hell’s Kitchen- open bay windows with faux-plant hedges will lead you into a decor like you were stepping into a Holiday Inn Express banquet room-red and beige walls, oversized floral patterned banquettes and a gaudy stain glass chandelier. The dining room is small with minimal wait staff with minimal knowledge of the product they are serving. The menu is moderately inventive featuring starters like grilled corn on the cob, and a Crab and Shrimp melt and various soups and salads. Happy couples, mostly tourists, sipping beer in tall warm glasses and wrestling with chewy Tandorri chicken with cous cous and leaves of lettuce. The grilled shrimp salad with bacon, avocado and citrus dressing, was simple and fresh. 

 

       

      

The burger headliner is the Blackburn signature -a classic beef pork blend with sautéed onions, a dollop of pimento mayo and a puffy lightly toasted bun. The Blackburn signature was charred black on an open flame grill, criss crossed crunchy edges and a medium well-cooked center. I was never asked how I would like it cooked and really never thought at the time to tell them. The patty was a little dry, but still with the crunchy pieces of charred burger, gave ample flavor and texture. Rich smokey sautéed onions were piled high on top and the pimento mayo added a nice smooth peppery flavor. The bun was surprisingly light and fluffy. The Vietnamese burger consisted of lean ground pork served with ham, cheese, daikon, carrot, cilantro and zesty chili garlic sauce served on the same puffy roll. The Vietnamese burger was the better of the two, a garden fresh porky flavor, with a crunch of the vegetables and the zing of the Asian chili sauce complementing it nicely. French Fries were partly skin left and sadly soggy, they also have a slider, a chicken burger with basil mayonnaise, and seafood burger with guacamole on a baguette. Blackburn’s staff were friendly if untrained and unsure, this hopefully for their sake will improve.


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