Posts Tagged ‘a quest for the best burger’

 
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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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. 
 

DBGB Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon


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Hidden in the outdoor pavilion of One Worldwide Plaza between 49th and 50th Streets in the Theater District of Manhattan, you’ll find Mother Burger. A burger joint with an outdoor beer garden/college campus type feel, Mother Burger also slings out, kobe dogs, grilled cheese,wings and $2.00 brews to urban youngsters, theater tourists and nearby locals. Created by Blockheads Burritos brothers Don and Ken Sofer, Mother Burger specializes in smashed fast-food type burgers reminiscent of a faux-In-Out style burger.I sat outside and gazed around at happy tables enjoying the spring weather, guys were downing jugs of amber and girls were sipping high potent umbrella drinks, I felt like I was on a Carnival Cruise in the Caribbean not a few blocks from Times Square-which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

Our waiter, who looked like the singer Moby, and was clearly still feeling the effects from “The Adult Flu” sauntered over and inaudiably mumbled the specials. His focus was  momentarily taken from our attention as he became increasingly worried about the flocks of “air rats” (pigeons) that were wreaking havoc on a nearby table. Reminiscent of that movie The Birds it was one of the more stranger events that have occurred during my burger dining days. Suddenly our whiskey-logged waiter came to the rescue, by banging two large plastic drink trays together. The sound was a loud and annoying clacking sound, that consequently caused the filthy flying rodents to scatter above the skies. Now that the drama was over I pondered on which burger to get, and I decided on the Single Mother with cheese and a double order of fries which are ordered separately. The burger arrived open-faced cradled in a tacky red basket,with a side container of “special sauce” which was undeniably Thousand Island dressing. The burger was relatively moist and decent, the flavor was good, and the fries were crispy. I tasted the freshness of the red-onion,pickles and tomato and the sharpness of the cheddar cheese as I consumed the little mother quicker than a pigeon picks up scraps.

Mother burger is cheap and cheerful and a moderately good burger joint with a colorful and friendly staff, if the weather is pleasurable, so will be the atmosphere. Indoors is more of a dive bar type feel than a restaurant, so stick to the outdoor seating, where you can bask in the sun and drink $2.00 Pabsts and watch the city walk by. The menu has some solid choices but stick to the simple items such as the burgers, kobe dogs and grilled cheese. And watch out for those umbrella drinks, they could leave a mark !

Mother Burger 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

After a 45 minute workout I figured I deserved some post exercise sustenance. As a burger lover there was going to be no frou-frou wheat-grass protein infused concoction, I was going in for the pure beef pleasure of a burger. Now my laziness this day did not permit a schlep over great distances, so I decided I’d give POP Burger a shot. This retro-pop art inspired burger lounge was the creation of famed restaurateur Roy Liebenthal. His claim to fame was the unforgettable celeb lavish spots such as Cafe Tabac, Lemon and POP restaurant which at the time I personally frequented much to my own decadent detriment. Roy’s vision in POP Burger was to create a stylish yet functional burger spot for urban fashionista’s and corporate big shots, whilst fusing the two in a landmark location just a stone’s throw from such other 5th Avenue commercial tenants as Bergdorf Goodman, Apple and FAO Schwartz.

The decor is modern and sparse, keeping up with the Andy Warhol inspired movement created in the early 60’s with a controversial replica of his famous Campbell’s Soup Cans plastered over the rear wall, of which, Roy and team were caught in a fierce legal battle to remove. I approached the counter and ordered the signature POP Burgers, which were miniature style burgers a little bigger than a slider, with cheddar cheese, thinly slice lettuce and ripe tomato. I also ordered the onion rings to partner my burger friends, enticed by the look of them frying in the hot oil right behind the cash register. I sat in rather uncomfortable stools and proceeded to embark on yet another taste journey in my pleasurable and never-ending quest. I grabbed the little guy with conviction and was sure by the look of it that the taste was going to be Poppin! However I found the POP burger lacking in flavor and quite dry, also the flavor was masked by a mass of bread the dominated the overall taste. 

As I continued hoping for a change in consistency it never came even throughout its twin counterpart the burger was just in a word lack luster and not warranted of the status that POP Burger has achieved, having said all that I realize every burger place has its day and this just may have been theirs. On the contrary if you like onion rings these little fried wonders were very tasty and were the saving grace in my afternoon POP Burger experience. For the price of the burgers at 7.50 they certainly won’t hurt your wallet, the vanilla shakes were another item on the menu that I tried after my burger and onion rings they were the perfect dessert, a rich and creamy shake delicious to the last slurp. The restaurant also offers a late night lounge with pool table and full bar if you feel like making an event of your burger experience, the addition of some drinks and the promise of a good game of pool and conversation with your friends makes this a versatile and entertaining pastime while you take a break from giving the credit cards are beating on 5th Avenue. 

POP Burger has another location in the meatpacking district, which is much perhaps better than their midtown location; I know that burger connoisseurs have raved about its fun late night after club burger gorge, whilst resting tired feet from trouncing around the Meatpacking District club scene. But then again maybe those reviews were just masked by too much partying and too much of “Pass the Dutchie” and “Manic Monday” which seemed to be playing in the background at 58th Street, quite possibly the same DJ frequents the downtown location? I dare you to find out !!

Pop Burger

On my recent trip to Greenport, I stayed at the sophisticated and conveniently located Greenporter Hotel, which is owned by extremely friendly Deborah Pittorino and her husband Bill. In addition to this hotel is an amazing Restaurant situated steps away called La Cuvee Bistro and Wine Bar.

La Cuvee Bistro is the creation of talented chef/investment banker Deborah Pittorino, who found her culinary way after years of travel and cultural experience with her family as a young adult.

As my trip was drawing to a close, I had one more very important task to accomplish and that was to tackle the burger creation of La Cuvee. After dining there on exquisite meals such as Standing Rib Roast with glazed carrots and Yorkshire pudding and Roasted Duck with pureed turnips, I was pretty confident that her burger would be a sure fire hit. I was invited by Deborah by written invitation to sample her burger, which I delightfully accepted and attended on one of the La Cuvee restaurant many busy nights.

The burger was served up open faced and resting on a swarm of crispy shoestring fries. It was dressed with a sizable hunk of melted cheddar cheese; fresh lettuce and onion all neatly snug on top of a brioche bun. The taste was delightful and immediate as the juice of the meat dripped down my chin and I grinned with satisfaction after every chomp that I took of this beefy, but delicate pleasure. The French fries were very good, possibly some of the best I have had in a long time.

I sat at the modern, yet comfortable, bar and chatted with Deborah as I worked on her burger creation and occasionally gazed out the bayside windows behind me and watched the frigid cold surround the small seaside town.

I enjoyed my stay, my burger and most of all meeting the people that created and ran this small boutique style hotel, I can’t imagine a better place to hang my hat or satisfy my hunger than the Greenporter, Hotel and La Cuvee Bistro.

http://www.thegreenporter.com/

La Cuvee Wine Bar & French

I found myself in Greenport this weekend, a quaint little seasonal fishing village located on the North Fork of Long Island. After consulting with some burger loving locals, they all directed me to O’ Mally’s. Situated about 10 minutes drive from my hotel, I got behind the wheel of my KIA rental and trudged my tiny car through the snow, which had fallen the evening before. I arrived to a cozy roadside tavern with Irish and European accents complete with classic Tiffany style lamps and large stuffed Moose heads mounted on the walls. I was seated in the back and given a menu that consisted of 33 artful variations of the classic roadside burger particularly the Alien Burger, Saloon Burger, Marinated Florentine Burger and the Supa Duper Burger which was a 1 pound of meat with every topping available in the kitchen for $75.00.

The owner Phil Mannino has been in the restaurant business for over 45 years, and was reminiscing the story of how he created this colossal burger menu over martinis one night long ago. He proceeded to share with me the process of his brilliant creations was like many other burger connoisseurs, which was a good local butcher that supplied a careful combination of beef that was catered to his liking. I was given a rare tour of a behind the scenes look at the painstaking process that goes into this meaty morsel. I made my way back to the table past happy patient patrons who smiled and looked on with jealously that I was getting the special treatment. After pondering over several selections I had decided on the Burger Papa, a towering 7 oz. burger with creamy Gorgonzola cheese, frizzled fried onion rings, lettuce, red onion and juicy tomato. It was suggested by my confident and knowledgeable waitress that “some Saloon Sauce would go perfect with that” I obliged her suggestion and settled in for the wait which was sure to be worth it.

The Burger Papa arrived and I could see why it was named this, it was the Papa of all burgers with a giant stack of frizzled fried onion rings and Gorgonzola cheese slathered over a juicy generous patty. My first bite was moist and absolutely lovely tasting the strong powerful flavor of the cheese and the crispy delightfulness of the fried onion rings. The quality of the meat was superb and the dressing of the Burger Papa was nothing short of spectacular. I also had an opportunity to try the O’Mally’s mini’s, gourmet version of White Castle burgers which featured tiny little chopped onions and delectable dill pickles that exploded with flavor in your mouth after every bite. All the burgers at O’Mally’s are served open faced and with lettuce, tomato, dill pickles and a generous bed of steak fries or shoestring fries.
I really enjoyed meeting Phil and the people at O’Mallys and was honored and privileged to be able to witness such gentleman and genius of the burger world.

O'Mally's

If any self respecting southerner tells you about burgers, you should listen ! My Thanksgiving travels have brought me to Burlington NC, otherwise known sarcastically by locals as Burl-Vegas, burger fans here flock to Skid’s daily for their traditional southern style burger, “mustard-chili-slaw” on a soft un-toasted sesame seed bun.
This family owned burger haven has been slinging the southern burger trilogy since 1949, with a variety of burgers to choose from I was advised by our experienced burger waitress of 30 years, Bonnie to give the Original Skid’s Special a try.

While sitting in tiny, but comfortable 50’s style booths I was granted a rare insider’s tour of this quaint little restaurant, I gazed impatiently as Lucy, the owner tended to my meaty delights, sizzling in ample grease on a flat style griddle that had looked like it had seen a few burgers in it’s time. I headed back to my booth and anxiously awaited the arrival of Lucy’s creation, and sipped happily on my old style Diet Coke with hand crushed ice.

Finally the burger appeared on my table, delivered with infinite personality and poise by Bonnie, without hesitation I gouged my mouth into this succulent creation and was immediately surprised by the texture and flavor of the burger, it was rather moist and exuded a powerful flavor of sweetness and savory due to the chili, and a freshness and crunchiness due to the coleslaw, although the burger after a while became soggy I enjoyed it as I inhaled it quicker than most of my previously rated burgers.

The Mustard-chili-slaw Original Skid’s burger was definitely worth a try and rates up there as a unique and joyous experience during my Thanksgiving holiday, the folks at Skid’s are a wonderful crew of southern food aficionados and I enjoyed patronizing their quaint little piece of burger history.

Thanks Skid’s !!!

Skid's Drive-In Number 1 Incorporated on Urbanspoon