BURGERS!!! - Part Two


BLT Burger
New York Burger Co.
Burgers & Cupcakes (MOVED)

Paleontologists believe that the first hamburger was invented by the mighty allosaurus which feasted on meat culled from herds of then plentiful, roaming tricerotops. They preferred their burgers extra-rare with no bun or ketchup. To this day the very same culinary technique is practiced by great white sharks, which opt instead for Australian surfer. I agree, a burger without fixings is primitive, but this is what started the phenomenon, and since then the burger has evolved. We in NY are tasting that evolution.

As I said in Part One, where I introduced this mini-series of burger reviews, a whole mess o' burger joints have cropped up in the recent couple of years here in the Big Apple and I decided to give as many of them as I could a whirl. This way, if any of my readers should one day be wandering the streets hungry, or perhaps drunk, and really want something good but not too expensive that isn't pizza, they'd be well equipped to handle the situation, regardless of how many chugs had been lugged.

In part one I also broke down my rules. But here they are in a somewhat abbreviated form: (1) burger joints only; (2) only between 7pm and 9pm; (3) Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; (4) Burger or Cheeseburger with fries and a diet cola.

470 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-8226

BLT Burger spawns from the BLT family of BLT Prime/Fish/Steak fame. Naturally, given its family ties, BLT Burger is the most expensive of the burger joints I’ve been to thus far. Luckily for me, it was also the best burger.

Most of the others give off either a diner-ish or fast-food-ish feeling. BLT though, feels more like a pub. The walls are dark, there’s wine, a long beer list, and a giant cow-head mounted on the wall. BLT is also full service. You’re not standing at a counter ordering and waiting for your number to be called, as is done at NY Burger Company (see below) or Brgr (see part 1). You’re given a menu and a waiter. It should be noted that if you show up between lunch and dinner, you have to eat at the bar, because they close the tables.

BLT Burger has placed itself as the expense-account choice for hamburger aficionados. In addition to the standard Black Angus hamburger available for the relatively modest price of $9 (or the lamb, turkey, veggie, or salmon version for about the same price), you can ask for the American Kobe beef burger for $16 or the Japanese Kobe beef one for a mere $68. Toppings and cheese are extra. Soda refills are free.

Standard diner desserts like pies a la mode, cookies, cupcakes, and milkshakes are available. Of course, if you want your milkshake to get you happily buzzed, for $10 you can get that too.

Mr. Dogz does his best to keep kosher, but as the technology does not yet exist to create kosher meat that tastes good (a Mitsubishi and ADM joint project is in the development stage), Dogz met me here on 6th Avenue. And man were those some burgers.

The meat was ground very fine and it almost felt creamy when you bit into the patty. I order my burgers medium rare if I’m given the option. I went back a few days later with Bro and they accidentally made it well done. I didn’t complain, but there was a definite drop in the creaminess factor, a factor that I think put the BLT burger above the others.

The burgers, it should be noted, seemed smaller compared to the others, but they came fully dressed and ended up being the perfect size. Especially when added to the fries, which were also very, very good. Crisp, but still soft and mushy inside. There was also a little cup of cole slaw which I liked a lot. We left neither too full to stand up straight, nor hungry enough to want to eat anything else.

Wait for food: 20 minutes.
Cost: $16 including tax and tip.
Burger: In the words of Mr. Dogz: "Sacrilicious"
Fries: Heavenly.
Atmosphere: A pub with primo cow.
Verdict: The best one so far.

678 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229-1404

Whether it should have been or not, New York Burger Co. was the first of the burger joints I'd ever noticed. And since trying them out the first time, they remain at the top of my recommendation list for folks seeking a good burger that isn't fast food. They make some good stuff for a better price than most and they don't take forever doing it.

That said, NYBC is up there with one of the most fast-foodish looking interiors one could design. You walk in, pick your burger from the menu over the cashier, and wait for it to be cooked. When it is, you go find a booth in the back or a table on the side. You're not gonna impress your out-of-town relatives with an evening trip here over even Brgr just an avenue away. The atmosphere is downright sterile... though oddly enough, my photo there, with the hanging ball lights, make it look kinda cool.

One of the best fast food burgers I an remember was at a Checkers. There's a driving range in the Bronx I'll go to and there's a Checkers right nearby that used to have a special (it still may): two burgers and a soda for four dollars. And these weren't pissy little McDonalds dollar menu burgers that come with nothing and taste like little more than greasy bun. These were fully loaded. But they were the exception. Normally, when I go to a fast food restaurant and order a burger, I almost never think to myself, "ahhh, now that's a burger!" I'm eating because I'm hungry and it's cheap. Well, when I'm at NYBC, I'm thinking , "now that's a burger!" It's big and juicy and oozes taste all over the place. Cheese, too.

NYBC, like most of the other burger joints, isn't one for variety. You'll have your burger and like it, punk. But where it's variety comes in is in the sauces you can choose from to top off with. Ketchup and mustard and mayo, plus NYBC burger sauce, chili pepper ketchup, bbq, honey Dijon, chipotle honey, and creamy horseradish are the ones I can remember. I love the creamy horseradish.

Wait for food: Me: 5 minutes, Bro: 12.
Cost: $9.50 plus tax.
Burger: Really good.
Fries: Not really good.
Atmosphere: Fast Food's not so long lost brother.
Verdict: Great for a lunch or alone, but not where I'd go if I wanted a burger at dinner where I'd want to be social.

265 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 242-0600

Burgers & Cupcakes marries NYC's recent burger mania with its recent cupcake mania. I did not, it must be noted, try the cupcakes here, and indeed, BLT Burger also does the cupcake thing, albeit on a much more subdued level. But part of the reason I avoided the cupcakes it because when I think of a burger chased with a cupcake, I get a bit queesy. Kind of the way I'd feel if I thought of teaming a glass of OJ with a plate of nachos or broccoli rabe with anything other than a bullet to the head. But judging by the number of people eating here at the Chelsea outlet, it clearly works for a lot of people. (the burgers and the cupcakes, not the broccoli rabe. How anyone could eat something that tastes like spinach crossed with chewing tobacco will forever be beyond me.)

B&C is pink. Pink pink pink. If steakhouse-like BLT was for manly men, B&C is catering to their tween daughters. It's the girliest of burger joints. That's fine, but it's not my thing. Unlike any of the other burger joints, B&C offers a breakfast menu. Breakfast cupcakes like Spiced Yogurt with Apple and Granola or Mocha Latte Espresso go for three bucks and breakfast burgers like Taylor Ham or Bacon, Egg, and Cheese go for four. Obviously B&C sells cupcakes too. About ten varieties. But we're here about the hamburgers, so let's get back on track.

B&C has, hands down, the widest hamburger variety. From regulars like beef, veggie, and turkey, to flat out exotics like lamb with rosemary, free-range bison, ostrich, and venison. The cheeses are the ones you'd expect, but the the toppings include mango salsa and cranberry. At the end of the day, you can order up something so different from the rest of the hamburger family that its cousins gossip about how its parents were too soft.

Burgers and Cupcakes was the most diner-like of all the burger joints I'd been to yet. And it's plain-Jane normal burgers were also the most forgettable. I don't want anyone to say I didn't like them, since they were fine. It's just that I didn't really notice them. Maybe it was the pink walls or the oh-so-perky waitress who was literally the nicest, happiest, most smiling thing I'd ever seen. Maybe I was just distracted. But I shouldn't have been. I guess at the end, the regular hamburgers felt generic (I certainly can't speak with any authority about the oddball flavors). Still, I'd probably go back if I was in the neighborhood.

I went with Dogz, and even though we ordered fries separately, they brought them out in one humongous basket that was un-finishable and only charged us once. It's like they knew no single person could finish that thing. It was nice that they didn't waste the food or our money.

Wait for food: 12 minutes.
Cost: $14 including tax and tip.
Burger: um... I forget.
Fries: Good and huge.
Atmosphere: Pink, like the bing on your cherry.
Verdict: Not bad, but I'm coming back for the venison burger.

Coming in Part Three:
Better Burger, the burger joint at Le Parker Meridien, and DuMont Burger

You Might Also Like



The contents of this website/weblog are the property of its author and are protected under the copyright and intellectual property laws of the United States of America. The views expressed within are the opinions of the author. All rights reserved.

Readers are free to copy and distribute the material contained within, but such external use of the author's original material must be properly attributed to the author. Attribution may be through a link to the author's original work. Derivative use is prohibited. The borrower may not alter, transform, or build upon the work borrowed.

The author is free to change the terms of this copyright at any time and without notice. At the written request by the borrower, the author may choose to waive these rights.