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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!
 
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RARE Bar and Grill

Posted: December 14, 2011 in Uncategorized
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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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!

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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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Perched in this restaurant vacant neighborhood, a burger meets Tiki bar promises grand delights, though its deliverance is marred by simple- yet fixable dilemmas. The atmosphere is pleasant and vocational, white-washed stressed windows slung open over simple retro-style seating, giving the feeling that you’re lounging hammock-wrapped in Jamaica or some other exotic locale-while listening to the likes of Norah Jones and Dean Martin. Memorabilia of a food culture past shines, old Heinz ketchup signs, Coca Cola trinkets and a ham-fisted name play sign “EnJoy”- sparingly highlight the walls. The style is bright and fun, unlike the Joy Burger team, who are clad in saggy, uncomfortable blue overalls while donning belittling red conductor style hats – unfortunately their moods match the color of their garb: Blue.

        

Lazily a staffer gives me a playing card, symbolizing the marker for my order-and grunts, “We’ll call ya.” I admired the images on the wall as I was shunned away to my table.Israeli born owner, Roy Ben-Jacob, shows his painstaking chore- transforming his vision from a bodega/grocery store into a hopeful burger emporium. I can’t help but feel that the Joy that is sold through the name, just doesn’t shine through in the people that work there. Despite my differences with the help, the menu is full of spice and variety. Burgers come in Munch 3oz [$3.50]; Midi 5oz. [$4.75] and Maxi 8oz. [$5.95] and can be slathered with an available bounty of condiments such as, garlic mayo, chimichurri and spicy mango.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Munch I ordered was the pick of the litter. Dolloped with an earthy chimichurri and ribbons of onions- it was juicy and delightful to the end. On contrast, the Midi and Maxi’s were dull and chewy. The Midi I chose with a spicy mayo, was light and zesty, but the meat was gnaw-worthy and grisly. The Maxi reminded me of a suped up Whopper, and was too big for the bun. It was toasted perfectly, but it wasn’t enough to save the over-sized meaty matter-it was unsuccessfully housing. When visiting Joy Burger Bar, stick with the Munch and couple it with the chimichurri and a helping of over-sized crispy onion rings- which one of the despondent Joy burger assembly line obviously found a little Joy in preparing.
 
Joy Burger Downtown opens in August on 6th Ave. and Washington Pl. http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/07/joy_burger_brings_the_privileg.html</a
 
Joy Burger Bar on Urbanspoon
 

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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.


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This truck stop diner-style slop house, nestled in a strip mall, claims to have “The Worlds Famous Hot dog”-but how’s the burger? A black and white checkered bathroom tile plasters the counter where a herd of good ole’ boys sporting John Deere hats with lower-lips full of tobacco greet you-or should I say -growl at you. The fare mainly is hot dogs, burgers, fries, typical breakfast combos. Tankards of beer are available for the thirsty, or alternatively, you can select a beverage from the “Cold Beverage Center”. It consists of a banged up commercial sized refrigerator packed with Sam’s Corner Mineral water, Grape Nehi and Yoo-Hoo-that watered down chocolate nightmare.
 

 
Amateur food charactertures are hung on the plywood sided walls, along with gaudy neon signs and a “Try our brains and eggs” placard. Littered around the room are cigarette machines, video casino games and fake Tattoo dispensers.  Perched on the counter is a neatly packed mini- bottle liquor cabinet to grog the golfers and the mostly retired folk that drift through these doors.After ordering from the counter, take a seat in bright red laminate benches where a selection of condiments are available table side including Heinz57, A1 and Malt Vinegar.
 
 
 
 
The griddled cheeseburger is served up on a paper plate with a nicely toasted bun, that’s slightly flattened, with wads of slivered lettuce dumped on a chewy chuck patty. Although the flavor of the beef is dull, the cheese is real and sharp and the pickles add a welcome cold snap. Onion rings are oversized salty and greasy. For a roadside diner burger, this is by no means the best in the world, but the colorful atmosphere that houses it is worth a gander.

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