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
 
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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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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.     
 
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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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 George Motz burger impresario and filmmaker of award-winning film Hamburger America teams up with Food Bank NYC, the James Beard Foundation and former Schnack Dog and Water Taxi Beach Chef Harry Hawk-to bring us cavalcade of documentaries, features and short films highlighting the globes favorite foods. The Fourth Annual New City Food Film Festival is the arena where food and film blend together to make a delicious meal of sight and taste. Awards will be given out for excellence in categories such as, Best Feature, Best Short, Best Super-Short, Best Film Made in New York, Food Filmmaker of the Year and the Audience Choice Award.                                           

all photos courtesy of http://www.nycfoodfilmfestival.com

 The festival is already underway (started June 23-27) and I have the privilege of a special assignment involving pigs ears and of course, burgers. First on the menu will be Edible Adventure #001 Smokes, Ears and Ice Cream– which takes place Friday June 25th at Water Taxi Beach. The night will showcase films from various film-foodies (full list here) and offer up some delectable film nosh like: Pig’s Ear sandwiches from Big Apple Inn, Jackson Mississippi; Smoke Meats from Fatty Cue; and Ice Cream from Max and Mina’s.  A number of liquid pleasures are also in the cast of stars-featured, are Cucumber Soda from Dry Soda Co. And potables from Mixologist, Allen Katz.                                 

Sunday June 25th the NYC Food Festival comes to a close with an abbreviated screening of George Motz’s Hamburger America and Anat Barons “Beer Wars” followed by the coveted awards ceremony, which is hosted by NBC’s Cat Greenleaf. The whole evening titled, “All-You-Can-Eat Brooklyn Burger N’ Beer Garden” at the Tobacco Warehouse under the Brooklyn Bridge, promises to be a glitzy burger-poolaza with burgers from Pat La Frieda and Whole Foods and growlers of beer to be guzzled from Craft Beers.                                    

all photos courtesy of http://www.nycfoodfilmfestival.com

 For a complete schedule and tickets go to:http://www.nycfoodfilmfestival.com/tickets.html                                             

………..and the award goes to?                                                


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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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New York historic neighborhood, The Bowery has adapted to change and delivered many colorful stories throughout history, beginning in the 1600’s where the name was drawn from the Dutch word “bouwerij” for farm, to CBGB’s the city’s infamous den of punk rock and excess, to the restaurant suppliers peddling cookware on the sidewalks, and now today where sleek hotels and famed restaurants are cropping up it seems-every day. DBGB Kitchen and Bar– with the name a word play on the fore mentioned iconic muso haunt, is one of those spots that delivers a delicious and raucous sausage beer and burger experience. Daniel Boulud previously had a habit of establishing his niche in the culinary world with Uptown palatable institutions, Boulud now stylishly down markets his stable of eateries, with a glass, steel facade at the foot of a residential building in The Bowery. DBGB honors past culinarians with graffiti-like etchings and cookware memorabilia. The menu reflects his French roots, but focuses more on comfort and casual with an inventive element accented through exotic international flavors. Sausages, burgers and beer are the staples highlighting a banger pork fest with every kind of sausage imaginable, like the Toulouse [a pork, duck gizzard and garlic link served with cassoulet beans]; the Beaujolaise [a pork, mushroom, onion, bacon and red wine link with lentils du puy]; and the Tunisienne [a lamb and mint link with harissa, lemon braised spinach and chickpeas]. The burgers are equally inviting, with a trio of adorable names like The Yankee, The Piggie and The Frenchie which is stacked with a 6 oz. beef patty with confit pork belly, arugula, tomato-onion compote and Morbier cheese. 
  
  
 
The spacious restaurant welcomes you with a modern, sleek eatery style bar and brings you under a dark wood floor to ceiling shelves cluttered with copper pots and pans previously owned by famous food icons. I sauntered through the entrance of the dining room, inquisitively glaring for my favorite chef’s cookware. The dining room is sectioned in comfortable booths, with an open kitchen and server area that is dramatically playing alongside every diner. First on the tasting list for me was the Tunsienne, dark red sausage curled around a mound of rich braised spinach, the sausage was spicy and complex, but definitely smaller than expected. When I saw a Anthony Bourdain re-run featuring DBGB- where him and Frank Bruni snarfed away at sausage after sausage, they just looked bigger and fatter-but I guess everything does on TV. The Beaujolaise that followed was much larger and heartier than the Tunisienne, the symphony of pork flavors delicately played with the lentils offering a sweet and rich after tone.  
 
 
 
 
 
After several tankards of ale, the talk and mood at our table was loud and impatient as we waited for the twenty-something actor/foodie to deliver our Frenchie. Served up neatly on a peppered perfectly formed bun was this precisely constructed specimen of burger masterdom. Sitting in the middle of a sea of white porcelain the burger was flanked by crunchy cornichons and a flute of crispy well done French Fries, the bite was an eye-roller display of happiness-the bun was expertly toasted, and the bitterness of the arugula sweetness of the tomato compote teamed with pungent flavor of the Morbier made for quite the memorable bite. Pork belly definitely played a lead role in the taste and texture of this juicy burger; its ribbons of melted fatness glistened and erupted in the mouth with every bite. Interestingly, I heard that originally the Frenchie was sans cheese when it was first invented? Kudos to Boulud, for including the excellent Morbier. As an haute burger goes the Frenchie one of the hautiest! -Boulud is quite the culinary genius and let’s not forget, a businessman. 
 

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