Archive for the ‘best burgers in NYC’ Category

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

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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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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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As far as hamburgers go, few have reached such  fame as the “Jucy Lucy”.The creation comes from either Matt’s Bar or nearby 5-8 Club in Minneapolis MN. The misspelling of the name coins its mystery and renowned reputation. As the Wikipedia page explains “  Matt’s Bar boasts on posters that  if it’s spelled correctly, you’re at the wrong place”, while in contrast “Employees  at the 5-8 Club wear  shirts that boast  the legend ” If it’s spelled right, it’s done right.” Despite the combativeness, no one is denying the idea that stuffing a patty with a luscious type of cheese is a genius one. New York native, Craig Koenig and a few of his buddies recently opened Whitman’s Restaurant in the East Village, which opted for the correct spelling of his version as printed on the menu [Juicy Lucy]. A simple shop front marked “Slow Food*Beer*Wine*Cafe” opens into a small space with muddled decor. Accented with an Americana theme, Whitman’s is fitted with simple barnyard walled sidings and minimal country seating and white subway tiles with a wall-lined bench. Service is counter style where two styles of burgers are available-the Upstate Burger-an all grass fed creation with seared onions and ultra-secret special sauce and the famous “Juicy Lucy”. A Mama’s Boy free range chicken sandwich with Coffee BBQ sauce and Fennel-jalapeno slaw [$9] and a Succotash Maide-Rite [$9] made with cumin roasted carrots; corn, edamame and poblano cilantro with cilantro, round out the menu. Fried accoutrements consist of hand cut French fries and Crack Kale-a flash fried kale dusted with red pepper.
 
           
 
An avid burger follower and critic Koenig says, “We were inspired by all the food blogs and TV shows surrounding the Juicy Lucy, namely -Food Wars -as inspiration for starting the venture.” This is his first foray into the restaurant business after owning various bars and lounges around the city. Koenig transplanted California native chef Chris Edwards to head the helm where together they focus on classic ingredients with simple twists that are locally sourced. The pair worked on their version for the New York Juicy Lucy for several weeks as Koenig states “It’s all about the quality of the meat and a special Pimento cheese recipe that blend the form together.” The Counter at Whitman’s, is the casual spin-off of the upmarket version slated to open soon in the basement. The menu not complete but, will feature a “Black Label-esque” blend of burger which is being sculpted by a Brooklyn butcher, The Meat Hook-who Koenig says, “Doesn’t even deliver-we have to go pick it up.” 
 
       
   
 
 
As the Juicy Lucy arrived to my table the server warns me, “Watch out for your shirt- it can get messy.” Towered on a speckled sesame seed Blue Ribbon Bun with a vibrant green leaf of Bibb, caramelized onions, chunks of red tomato, spicy pickles and coated with mayo. The girth of the short rib blend was plump and glistening with color. A rush of pimento cheese flows into the mouth of the eater, bursting out of the patty with aggressive force, combined with a seasoned zest that represents Creole flavors. When asked what that was, Koenig stays tight lipped. The French fries were crispy, salty and plentiful, coupled with a wad of Crack Kale made for a wonderful gluttonous experience. Keeping in with Koenig’s idea of provided affordable fare to the neighborhood, he also features a small selection of quality Ales quench your beef soaked palate, Six point Rye and Blue point Summer Ale are available in frosted Mugs for $4-bottled beers for $7. With a the price tag of $8, the Juicy Lucy bursts in to the Gotham burger scene with succulence and originality.


Whitmans on Urbanspoon


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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
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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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Santos’s Texas Burger with bacon and fried egg [featured on Sunday brunch]

Newly knighted Executive chef David Santos, now in power of 5 and Diamond Restaurant, introduces a new 5 item all $5.00 teaser menu starting on June 22nd -Tues-Fri,5.30pm-7:00pm- for those after work- pre-dinner-“need a fix patrons” .Santos took over the reins this past week from then consultant, Ryan Skeen. The much gossiped about shift came after a confusing faux-pas by a noted New York foodie publication,”They then issued a retraction” says the relaxed Santos. On the 5 item teaser menu, Santos introduces a welcome toast with his signature White Sangria. It recently won rave reviews at a private New York food event. Also available is an eclectic menu to accompany your cocktail where Santos highlights juicy Lamb Belly Sliders, crispy light pillows of fried Cod fritters with a tangy smoked paprika aioli and other original delights not to be missed!

5 & Diamond’s $5.00 Menu

All Menu Items $5.00

Tuesday – Friday
5:30-7:00

Menu

Crispy Pigs Ears
w/Chimichurri Sauce

Grilled Piri Piri Shrimp

Cod Brandade Fritters
w/Smoked Paprika aioli

Lamb Belly Sliders
w/Curry, oven roasted tomatoes

Tempura Asparagus
w/Black Soy Sauce

Cocktails

White Sangria
Raspberry Margarita

Wines By The Glass

Alva, White Ebling, 2008
Mas Laval, Grenache/Syrah, 2008

Beer and Cider

Estrella
South Hampton
Sly Fox
Magners


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Ex-Piadina– now ex-Pop Art Bar and Restaurant, chef Salvatore Zapparata was a NO-SHOW at last night’s premiere opening event of Pop Art Bar and Restaurant on the Upper East Side, the evening was wrought with drama from the beginning, but somehow owner Nahid De Camillis pulled it off -cheffing the entire dinner herself lavishly decked out in a $5000.00 Oscar De La Renta couture gown. The restaurant looked stunning, with Mark Leialoha’s iconic rock images of Iggy Pop, Kurt Cobain and a never before published Michael Jackson peering down upon diners. The outdoor garden was low-lit and speckled in colorful floral arrangements, inside a offbeat artstic meets swanky uptown crowd moved around hobnobbing from table to table sipping Rosé, enjoying, and snapping pictures.  
 
The Special Opening Menu for the evening was as follows: 
 
Salads
Caprese bufula mozzarella tomato basil
Or
Arugula extra virgin oil and parmesan
 Appetizers
Warm seafood salad with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari and mesculin lettuce
Or
Chicken and potato salad with beets and prosciutto
 Entree
Duet of Sol Grey and lemon of sole, basmati rice and spinach
Or
Chicken Involtini-chicken rolled with prosciutto, celery, carrots served with potato, beets and tomato.
Or
Spaghetti with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari
 Dessert
Mixed Berry Fruit Salad
 
 
“Check out my listing for Pop Art Bar in Metromix’s Hot Plates column on June 16”  http://newyork.metromix.com/restaurants/article/hot-plates/2011539/content
 


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Xi’an Famous Foods opens July 3rd-Named for the capital of the Shaanxi province in central China, this hole in the wall noodle den is branching out yet again, this time in kitschy St. Marks Place. Xi’an reached culinary noodle and burger stardom- with help perhaps, after Anthony Bourdain sung their praises on his show No Reservations “This place is unbelievable! This lamb burger hits me right in the pleasure zone, great in any language or culture” says Bourdain. Along with the Cumin Spiced Lamb Burger, Xi’an also serves up Liang Pi “Cold Skin” Noodles, Stewed Pork Burger, Lamb Pao Mo Soup, and various types of Hand-Pulled Noodles.
 
 
 
Xi’an Famous Foods
81 St. Marks Place
1st Avenue
NY, NY 10003
212. 786.2068
http://www.xianfoods.com/


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