Posts Tagged ‘DMANBURGER-a quest for the best burger’

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

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

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

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

5&Diamond on Urbanspoon

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

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

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

Sanctuary T on Urbanspoon