Archive for the ‘best burgers in Manhattan’ Category

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

 
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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A buff ,but cordial doorman ,stands shifting his weight from side to side, while a pretty reservationist with almond shaped eyes shares  the aroma of charred beef and uncorked Bordeaux with awaiting patrons. These are images and sensations of Minetta Tavern. This  personified “classic steakhouse meets neighborhood” tavern by  restaurateur virtuoso, Keith McNally, plays for a raucous sophisticated audience and  its routine is flawless. Knowledgeable servers dressed penguin-like circulate hurriedly around the black and white checkered floors, a steadfast all-knowing manager, and a cheeky, yet comedic bartender-completes this cast of Minetta players. Like the set of a 40’s film, the stage is a grand ole tavern with faded frescos of a New York now past. Finishing’s of deep brooding oak enhance McNally’s trademark leather banquettes that are romantically positioned beneath littered charactertures of anonymous old  neighborhood guys that reflect some of these past iconic patrons-nestled tightly around the room- each booth telling a story.  Minetta Tavern was once a haunt for New York poets, writers and educators-opening in 1937 and named for the Minetta Brook which ran southwest from 23rd Street to the Hudson River. Offering an exclusive patronage to the rich and famous is often coupled with a somewhat reclusive attitude when making a reservation, especially when only a private number allows one to do so. I, however, did not experience anything, but prime treatment. Perhaps I was lucky or mistaken for someone very rich and famous.   

Minetta TavernMinetta Tavern 

Photos above by Daniel Krieger http://www.danielkrieger.com/

Co-chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr team together to adequately float the now pride of McNally’s fleet-Balthazar being their maiden voyage together. The Hanson and Nasr team assemble a far cry from the red sauce Italian/American Trattoria menu that once was slopped here on diner’s plates. Today a carefully constructed myriad of primeval gratification that instantly makes the diner hankering and hoggish at the mere sight of the menu. Also subtlety teasing the palate with dainty flashes of hors d’oeuvres like; the Asparagus Vinaigrette [$16] with fresh ricotta, pickled honshimeji mushrooms, marcona almonds, lemon and micro shisu; the Dressed Prawns [ $18 ] with Bibb lettuce, trevise, haricot vert, celery root remoulade; and a delicately fresh Watercress and Oyster Soup [$14]. On the contrast, my table stuck with the gluttonous “Flintstone- like” bone-marrow that arrived on a stark white plate. Two large shin bones gormandized with gelatinous goodness lay before you. If you want to recreate this feeling? Turn your love of food into a Culinary Arts Degree with
accredited online colleges.

The diner then sparingly spreads onto crusty baguette points and can then be dunked into a shallot confit. The conversation at our table was muffled and interrupted by groans of happiness and content. Other omnivores that were sitting in the vicinity were gorging on other “Grillades” menu items, like the Bone-In New York Strip [$45], Lamb Saddle “Tranche” [$28],Veal “Porterhouse” Chop $36 and the bountiful Dry Aged Côte de Boeuf [$104 ] for two, with roasted marrow bones and sucrine lettuce salad. Typical pommes favorites [Frites and Anna] and a Legumes selection rounded the menu.

Black Label burger cross section @ Minetta Tavern

Above Photo from ExFlexitarian on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=bone%20marrow&w=19832102%40N00

Minetta Tavern

Photo by Kathy YL Chan from Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyylchan/

 Although all of these fore mentioned menu selections are stars in their own right, the crowd pleaser of Minetta, of late has been the Black Label Burger. The clandestine blend, exclusively created by La Frieda for McNally, has been talked about, admired, and unsuccessfully duplicated since its inception. A secret blend of highly selected aged beef cuts is molded into a patty and gently placed on a piping hot flat grill and generously mopped with clarified butter until pinkish red inside. The succulent plump patty is then perched on a soft toasted brioche.-All sounds simple enough because it is just that. The complexity of flavor equals a brilliance and superiority against any other counterpart. At $26 the Minetta Burger may not be eaten on the regular, but should be tried at least once. Furthermore, the quest for the best burger in NYC is now in danger of being completed and sealed. Only time will tell.     
 
Minetta Tavern on Urbanspoon

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Under the Brooklyn Bridge inside the roofless skeleton of the Tobacco Warehouse last night, was the closing ceremony for this year’s NYC Food Film Festival. The event ran from June 23-27 and showcased foodie films which featured eye-popping images and poignant stories about several of America’s faved food haunts and tastes. The event culminated with an award ceremony/All you can eat Burgers n Beer Garden, hosted by NBC’S Cat Greenleaf. A proud Brooklyn resident herself, Greenleaf happily remarks “I love food and this event, and any burgers with bacon.”

Festival Creator and award winning filmmaker George Motz came up with idea of the event, when friend Harry Hawk suggested he screen his movie, Hamburger America, at Hawk’s restaurant. Motz recalls, “It rained, but 200 people still came!” He described the experience of creating the event similar to “throwing a wedding, it has been a tremendous success”. Someone who knows a little something about weddings- Josh Osersky, complimented his burger friend and colleague by saying “Motz coming out of documentary filmmaking, and not being a food guy, makes this event transcend from the usual feeding trough, it’s not just some event you go to-there’s an actual spirit to it and the fact that George and Harry are so passionate about the event shows through.”

Guests drifted around tasting burgers from 3 different meat vendors, Whole Foods, Pat La Frieda and Burger Maker with the “World’s Longest Topping Bar” to dress their creations with an infinite array of condiments and toppings. Anat Baron former executive of Mike’s Hard Lemonade screened her film to 600 burger eating guests- “Beer Wars”, which is a David and Goliath story reporting on the infighting of Americas Beer industry. Baron, with an allergy to alcohol, has never tasted beer, but after speaking with all the brewers, who specifically matched the flavors of the beers selected for the event, she says “Burgers and Beer are all American and apparently- the flavors go well together”. One of those beer flavors included at the event, was from star of the Beers Wars film Rhonda Kallman, who plays herself in the film. Kallman otherwise known as “Queen of Beer” and founder and CEO of New Century Brewing Company, offered up two of her new brews, soon to hit Manhattan bars-the light and crisp Edison and Moonshot, a pilsner with 69 mgs of caffeine added.

A “Queen” of a different kind, was honored in the film “Florent-Queen of the Meat Market“, which is the rise and fall story of West Village iconic diner Florent, and it’s charismatic beloved owner Florent Morellet. Florent auteur, David Sigal, last night accepted the “Made in New York Award” as well as the “Feature Film award”. Sigal received his award ironically from Mayor Mike Bloomberg who was in attendance, “I was honored to get the award from Mayor Bloomberg since I love New York City, this little diner in New York’s meatpacking district had so many stories to tell” says Sigal. An avid burger lover himself, Mayor Bloomberg sauntered around the event, politely cutting in line for toppings, while gorging on burgers and chatting with people. “So far I’ve had 2 beers and the reason I’m talking funny is because my mouth’s full of my second hamburger, if that’s not a testimony of the fact I like the event I don’t know what is” says Mayor Bloomberg.

Motz recalls “I sent the Mayor my book Hamburger America and he wrote me a letter back saying, I love hotdogs but hamburgers are a close second”. Next stop for the NYC Food Film Festival is Chicago, where Motz will franchise his festival for the First Annual Chicago Film Festival Sep 24-25.

As for the mayors favorite burger in the city…..he’s a JG Melon man.


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Past penned Frederick Lesort opened AvroKO designed, Plein Sud recently at The Smyth Hotel in Tribeca. The Southern French fare restaurant and Bar a Vin, wreaks of taste and potential.  The atmosphere is lavished with elegant, yet simple bars perches overlooking the street and comfy chic style banquettes span the dining room. Chef Ed Cotton’s menu headlines an array of Gallic Classics like; Coq au vin, Croque Monsieur, Charcuterie,Boeuf  Bourguignon and Pâté et Terrines. Of course there’s a burger as well, and big surprise it’s a Pat La Frieda!  Le Burger Royale au Fromage, or Royale with cheese, is an 8 oz. Black Angus soft centre oozing of creamy white cheddar and propped on a shiny toasted brioche bun. Oh! And the piste de résistance is a slather of decadent black truffle aioli.

I comfortably sank into my banquette, watching all the Mothers on Mother’s Day soak up the love of their families through food and conversation. Missing my own mother, I looked for more immediate solution to my emotional dilemma-a big fat Le Burger Royale!  It arrived to my table looking gorgeous, towering over a small side salad, and unfortunately slithered rather than slathered with the black gold-like substance. I mean I couldn’t even smell it! What did I annoy the waiter or something? I was painfully disappointed at the lack of Black Truffle aioli on my burger. Despite the lack of truffles, the flavor was adequate, juicy and homey; my mouth salivated with every bite yearning for another and another. Upon reaching the epicenter of the patty there was an eruption of cheese that burst and oozed onto my palette. The crispness of the bun and the buttery saltiness of the Pat La Frieda blend was decent and worth it. At $15.00, a typical price these days for an haute-burger, the Le Burger Royale comes with crispy thin French fries or a side salad.  Tell them to be generous with the truffle aioli which the manager pointed out later, “They will gladly do.”

 
 
 
 
Plein Sud is connected to the Thompson Hotel Group’s newest venture the Smyth Hotel, they have delicious coffee and many other bistro-esque delectables. The kitchen is open at 6am for breakfast, on the weekend brunch menu you’ll find ” trois” le ouefs Benedict variations, and a trio of breakfast flatbreads…..”Life is like a box of chocolates” but with this one, you know what you’re gonna get!

Plein Sud’s Dinner Menu 
Plein Sud’s Brunch Menu
 

Plein Sud on Urbanspoon

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After forty years of deterioration, Harlem’s population began to see a speedy increase sociocultural changes in the late 1990s. This was due to a change in federal and state laws and policies, including a concerted effort by local crime fighters to clean up, and wash out the bad element that plagued the area. In 1994, when the city began supplying funds for the area, it increased the property value rapidly to approximately 300% today-even President Bill Clinton moved in. Despite all of these positive changes the folks in Harlem have had little to experience as far as fine dining goes, maybe a fried chicken leg or bowl of collards-not that was a bad thing. Finally 5 and Diamond Restaurant has arrived, a neat modest little restaurant serving a loud and exciting menu, complete with a mouth-watering fat-back burger, to a culinary starved and growing neighborhood.

Chef de cuisine David Santos, told me “The neighborhood was really crying out for a good brunch/dinner place, people are stopping me on the street and thanking me”. Chef/Owner Ryan Skeen, of such restaurants as Resto,The General Greene, Irving Mill and Allen and Delancey, teamed with local Harlemer’s Lia San Filippo and Selene Martinez to open 5 and Diamond. After some reality show worthy controversy, the team seems to be on a smooth, less dramatic course. The brunch menu is a touch of Southern home comfort featuring; Cornmeal Griddle Cakes with banana walnut butter,Yogurt Granola with fresh fruit, Buttermilk Biscuits with homemade apple butter, Tracy’s Canadian Fried Chicken, and David Santos’s Shrimp and Grits Hush puppies with smoked paprika aioli. The dinner menu was a solid Mediteranean/American feel,featuring Cavendish Quail and Liege Salad,Rabbit Sugo Parpardelle, 28 day Aged Creekstone Bone-in Shell Steak with roasted mushrooms,creamed Tuscan kale and tobacco onions.

I sat in the window seat surrounded by a modern Japanese-esque style decor with antique style steel bay windows. There is a sleek counter bar where patrons can order from a bar menu highlighting Grilled Prawns with Papa’s Fritas and Gruyere and Mimolette Mac n Cheese. The Pat Lafrieda burger,was perfected by Skeen at his last venture, and is carefully constructed with a 60%/30% blend of beef cheek, bavette and pork fat back-which is ground on-site daily. This “heart stopper” was a gorgeous, 6 oz creation slathered with luscious white cheddar cheese, fresh homemade vinegar dill pickles, red onion and lettuce-all stacked on a char-soft potato bun. I started with a tasting of the Buttermilk Biscuits with creamy-fruity homemade apple butter, which were divine. The Shrimp and Grits Hush puppies followed, with smoked paprika aioli-these “puppies” were crispy and delectably fantastic !  The Yogurt Granola with plump strawberries and blackberries was fresh and delightful. After this bevy of  pleasure it was burger time, the pork-beef beast arrived open-faced with duck fat fried home fries in tow. I carefully stacked the green leafy lettuce and crunchy dill pickles into a towering impressive looking sandwich. The first bite was juicy and bloody, pork fat back ran over  my hands as my eyes rolled back in my head, my thought was, ” These guys are onto something here ! ”  The burger flavor was salty, robust and aromatic, accented by the tartness of the vinegar dills and a buttery potato bun. The fries however, were not my favorite, tasting kind of stale and greasy. The 5 and Diamond burger was definitely one of my favorites in the city, for the hearty eaters there is a Texas Burger version with fried egg and bacon that sparked my interest too-maybe next time.

 5 and Diamond, is worth the trip North, so if you’re the type that thinks that there’s no treasures above 59th Street, slip on your loafers and grab a taxi to Harlem. The bad element that was once part of this hood, is transforming into young urban yupsters with an appetite for Noveau chic cuisine. The tasting menu that showcases Sea Urchin,Seafood Tagliatelle, Rabbit and Ratatouille Sausage Spaetzle, Duo of Lamb and Spiced glazed Doughnuts is a steal at $50 with wine pairing $85.00. Thank-you to Chef David Santos and Ryan Skeen for making my brunch-“a spa experience for my mouth”.

5&Diamond on Urbanspoon

I grew up in Australia,which is a fanatical, tea saturated country and the idea of having a spot of tea in the afternoon was in-bred in my psyche at a very young age. Sanctuary T located in swanky cocktail and espresso laden Soho, is a testament to the wonders and flavors of the world’s best teas. Owner Dawn Cameron and Chef Kenn McGoey have created a spa-salon like tea temple complete with potable and non-potable versions of the ancient leaf. The decor is dark wood modern, panelling with an open floor plan and outdoor bay windows facing busy West Broadway. I was welcomed by manager Kermit and his band of tea servants and given a perch right in the window with the aroma of 50 brews of tea wafting through the air and I immediately fell into a tranquil state,as I tried to concentrate on my friends excited chatter.

The menu features typical brunch fare with a European twist, also known for tea infused creations such as Salmon Poached in Red Moon Tea, Halibut slow cooked in Lychee Black Tea and Smoked Turkey Eggs Benedict infused with Pear Cinnamon Tea. The burger on the menu, which used to be a slider, recently was promoted to a fines herb seasoned patty served on a towering sesame freckled brioche with blue cheese and roasted tomato. I sipped a refreshing goblet of Iced Rose Tea, and observed several people seep in the Zen like atmosphere, possibly concocted by the Long Island like version being readily served.

My burger arrived sitting appealing on a plate with a side salad, although to my disappointment it was cut in half, thereby undoubtedly letting the beautiful juice run out on the plate. I took my first bite and was welcomed with a rich aromatic herb flavor, followed by a storm of creamy blue cheese and roasted tomato. The bun was lightly toasted and perfect, I thought the overall flavor of the patty was impressive, but lacked in succulence and juiciness. It wasn’t a large burger,reflecting kind of spa like persona about it. Not that this was a bad thing, but something to be aware of before visiting. For those of you that are famished, I would recommend coupling this one with a heaping helping of tea infused French Fries. Prices are Soho marked, and you should call for a reservation  to avoid waits. The staff are friendly and cordial, and are the type that will do their best to make your experience special. To replicate your tea flavor experience in your home kitchen, be sure to grab a souvenir of some of their ingenious T Dust Tea Seasoning on your way out.

Sanctuary T on Urbanspoon

After a burger tasting planned for a well-known burger haunt fell through, I walked aimlessly and annoyed that my burger craving was postponed and prolonged -“What else is in this area” ? I asked myself “Minetta Tavern”, “Five Guys” ? Not willing to deal with the waiting and unsure chance of getting a table at Minetta, or needlessly following the hordes of burger reviewers that flock after Five Guys, I was lost for ideas. Reluctantly I decided to expel my idea of a burger mission, and just go to a normal brunch, perhaps giving my arteries a rest -and maybe order a salad? I noticed that there were swarms of people outside Jane, an American bistro and sister restaurant of  The Smith,  a partnership of Glen Harris and Jeffrey Lefcourt. I asked myself- “Could this have a decent burger”?  I quickly scanned the crowded room hoping to catch a glimpse of other burger fanatics nourishing themselves on my unsuspecting prey. I noticed a guy, about to devour this surprisingly gorgeous specimen, and I was sold. I approached the maitre’d and asked for her next available table, then lounged on the front bench basking in the welcomed sunlight that was beating down on the city. The menu at Jane consists of your usual brunch/lunch favorites: Caesar Salad, Eggs Benedict, BLT and Vanilla Bean French Toast, the latter of which is supposedly their signature. The decor is modern contemporary with wide panoramic windows and comfortable banquette’s along each wall, the scene is a retrospect of Soho-fashionistas meets NYC students, with some restaurant savvy tourists thrown in for good measure.

My party and I were seated in the back of the packed dining room. Excitement suddenly came over me that I had found a great new burger place, my hopes of being the first to discover this new burger find, were dashed when I noticed on my handy Google App , that every man and his dog had reviewed the place!  Happily there weren’t too many distasteful slurs, so I felt confident that we were in for an unexpected treat. The burger was slated on the menu simply as “Jane Burger” with white cheddar, double smoke bacon, special sauce and fries. After careful interrogation of the waitress, I found out that there was a creamy mayonnaise based jalapeno marmalade and tangy green pickled tomatoes hidden in there also. The burger arrived, and was gargantuan! Served on a fat brioche bun with crispy french fries and cheese oozing out the side-I was a happy camper. My first bite was powered by the smokiness of the bacon, and crispy dill flavor of the pickled tomato. This was a novel and inventive alternative, capturing the flavor of a tomato and a dill pickle together. The beef was 100% ground sirloin, that was dripping with juices which quickly ran down my hands and forearms, like a rapid river. This was good in a way, because it told me that the burger was juicy and full of flavor. However it also told me, that my last bite could likely be dry. The flavor and texture was above average and I enjoyed it immensely, savoring every bite, unfortunately the last few bites were definitely dry, and drained of  juices. This tiny detail may seem trivial, but previous giants of the burger world have been known to avoid this paltry dilemma.

Jane restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy good decent brunch fare, while shopping in Soho, or maybe before catching a frou-frou artistically saturated film at the Angelika ? On the weekend expect to wait 10-15 mins. for a table, but if it’s a nice day you can work on your tan, take your mind off the stresses of life, and gawk at the brunch searching masses walk by, undoubtedly on the hunt for something fabulous and ever so popular. Well next time you’re in Soho and on that same hunt, the DMANBURGER say’s “look no further than Jane”.

Jane

Finally the wait is over, well nearly! Chef Jeremy Spector, accomplished culinarian of past eateries as Employees Only, Dogmatic Dog and Gramercy Tavern, heads up the helm at this British inspired restaurant, nestled in the East Village. I got the scoop, from a confidential burger source a couple of weeks ago, that a goliath meaty sandwich was going to appear on the menu for brunch to challenge this gotham of burger architects. The Brindle Room is the brain child of Chef Jeremy and CIA graduate Dean Piccolo, a beef fanatic, and owner of Sebastians Steakhouse in Morristown New Jersey. The Brindle room is a charming, cosy little Gastropub-like spot, serving a variety of fare with a small menu made up of three parts-spreads,small and large. The reason for this is to ensure an easy transition to seasonal and daily changes. Some features on the menu consist of a traditional Lancastrian speciality Potted Shrimp, Crispy shredded pork bellies with warmed spinach, and Roast Chicken with root vegetables in porcini jus. The restaurant is drowned in pleasant dark tones and has a feel, reminiscent of an old English ale house, featuring a Starck-esque wall length banquette, wooden stools and warm lighting.

I sat at the small counter/bar in the rear, and chatted to Chef Jeremy as he prepared a 9 oz patty, hand blended daily by Sebastians Steakhouse. The meat elements included aged trimmings of Short Ribs, Filet Mignon, Skirt and Rib-Eye. He pan-fried it in a seasoned cast-iron skillet, till char brown and juicy, assembled it in front of my eyes with a simple bun (soon to be Pain D’Avignon), creamy soft Stilton cheese, and earthy herb flavored caramelized onions. Perched in front of me with a generous bed of crispy hand-cut french fries, I wasted no time sampling this beautiful beast. The flavor was rich and powerful ! A mouth-watering succulence, mixed with full-bodied velvety taste of the Stilton, and slight tones of earthy herb and spice from the onions. The French-fries were perfect, crispy and salty. And to add a little” je nais se quoi” it’s also offered à cheval-with a fried egg.

The burger will open to a popular following in two or three weeks for brunch, or maybe you can pull up a bar stool like I did, and chew the fat with Chef Jeremy Spector and he might give you a sneak peek ? who knows? you may just have the luck of the Irish! or… is it the British?? Whatever! go and check out The Brindle Room and find out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

The Brindle Room

277 E 10th Street,

nr. Ave. A and 1st Ave

Ph: 212.529.9702

Around the corner from Freeman’s, the taxidermy laden, clandestine tavern that has been repeatedly reviewed by food paparazzi over the years lays the charming cafe/restaurant -The National. Opened by Jeremy Hogeland and partner Julie Dickstein 7 months ago, they have dodged the press radar relatively well, a tactic to achieve their excellence before the hordes of foodies sunk their teeth in, literally! I was interested to learn that the namesake was inspired by Hotel Nacional de Cuba, featured in Godfather II .It was the  real-life La Cosa Nostra meeting spot for charismatic hoods Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, back in the 40′s, and also featured in Godfather II. Jeremy informed me that his personal vision was to practice their “schizophrenic like” menu, which was jointly created by him, Julie and Chef Zoe Feigenbaum, and incorporates endless international eats and inspirations. The decor is cafe style cozy, scattered flea market trinkets and adornments, mother of pearl shades, antique mirrors, with the Cubano style name sign splashed high above with floor to ceiling white surgically clean subway tiles that plaster the walls. Oh –by the way – if you are wondering where the tables that you are eating on are from- none other than Meyer Lansky’s old haunt- Lansky Lounge!

The National originally opened as a cafe, so hence I decided to sample the expert young barista’s handy work, that was hurriedly serving cap’s and latte’s to a fashion forward crowd at her tiny mini coffee bar. The coffee was insanely good, with just the right amount of foam to put a smile on my face on this gloomy afternoon. The space was tight, but I had adequate room at which to perform my burger surgery, seated in front of the door, I glance around at the crowed dining room filled with Euro hipsters and East Village type style mavens, undoubtedly stopping for some quick sustenance before browsing through over highly priced duds and haircuts and next doors Freeman’s Sporting ClubFrench Culinary Graduate, Chef Zoe Feigenbaum at the helm, and was busy creating in the kitchen, a selection of tasty brunch treats such as Shrimp and Grits, Lobster Roll, Jerk Pork, Fish Tacos and Banana French Toast.

Zoe’s contribution to my appetite today was The National burger, an 8 oz.  Pat La Frieda blend burger, served with colossal chunks of Smokey blue cheese, slabs of rosy red tomatoes on a toasted brioche. Jeremy Hogeland explained to me that their genius method of pan-frying the burger in a cast iron skillet, than broiling it under the Salamander, seals the juices and makes for a tenderer succulent patty. My plate arrived with a gorgeous looking specimen of burger handy work, winning top marks for looks alone. The chunks of blue cheese had a subtle coating of bronzing, just ever so slightly tanned. The brioche bun was delicately toasted with the right amount of give, when poked with my finger. The French fries were cut in exact symmetry and crispy to the taste, with a generous burst of herb after flavor. The patty itself was juicy, plump and charred to perfection, as I gorged into this delicious burger, I really tried hard to find something wrong with it, but I just couldn’t!! I thought it was pretty much as close to perfection as a bistro style burger gets, just as Lucky and Meyer were the mastermind’s of crime, The National was this day the mastermind of the burger.

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I also tasted the Fish Tacos which were crispy fried little pieces of Cod, adorned with zesty pickled cabbage, Pico de Gallo and a homemade tortilla. I can tell you as a Taco fan, these babies rated high on my list for some of the best I have ever had!  The National is a charming place for a coffee, brunch or dinner, with an evening menu that some say surpasses its more famous neighbor. So if you’re growing old waiting in line for a Freeman’s table, stop that insanity and dine at The National!!

The National