BURGERS!!! - Part Seven


Patty & Bun
Bare Burger
Lucky's Famous Burgers

Ah, the humble cheeseburger. If aliens ever arrive on Earth and our diplomats feel that a peace offering food would be a nice gesture to unify the species, this is what they should get (unless the aliens are vegans... in which case, we're in the shits). However, under the presumption that the approaching alien fleet are bloodthirsty meat-eaters, I feel that this blog is something akin to research. What burger should be send up in a rocket to greet them, as it were? Three contenders:

Patty & Bun
61 West 8th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 477-1850

Patty & Bun, in the West Village, is half burger bistro and half upscale pub. Dogz and I found our way here one chilly January evening. We grabbed a seat about forty feet from one of the only other occupied tables at the time, which was occupied by Ryan Reynolds, and scanned the menu between beer nursings.

I ordered the standard Patty & Bun Burger (deluxe: with fries), with the non-standard option of Roquefort cheese melted on top. You bite into what's at least an inch of meat and it's so moist that the plate becomes drenched in drippings and it's just natural to place the bun in the liquid to soak it up. Dogz ordered the Pastured Lamb Burger, a thick lamb patty with a smear of jalapeno sheep's cheese (also deluxe). Lamb is similar in countless ways to beef, but it's got a noticeable bit of depth that beef lacks. You'll either like this or you won't, but I do and Dogz did. Couple that with the jalapeno spread that the burger sits on and you have a dinner that bites you back.

Wait for food: 16 minutes after .
Cost: $14 plus tax and tip and beer.
Burger: BLT burger is getting a run for its money in the upscale burger biz.
Fries: deeelish
Atmosphere: gastropub
Verdict: gives burger joints a good name

33-21 31st Avenue
Astoria, NY 11102
(718) 777-7011

As Astoria becomes a cooler and cooler place to live, and Brooklyn becomes more and more inexpensive, more interesting restaurants are popping up. One such pop-up in Astoria is Bare Burger, where everything is organic and au natural, even the ketchup. The furniture, ceiling and lighting are recycled. The takeout containers are biodegradable. I hope that they turn their french fry oil into bio-diesel.

I showed up with Bro mid-week and Bare Burger wasn't very crowded, so they pointed us to whatever table we wanted. I chose one with a good camera angle, balanced my Lumix on the top of the water bottle the waitress gave us, and started snapping away. The interior is bright and inviting. It's simple in a fast-food way, but with table service. There's a beer and wine list, but Bro and I stuck with bottomless glasses of Boylans.

Bare didn't waste any time getting us our burgers and our fries. I was actually surprised at how little time it took. Bro and I shared a basket of their Fresh Cut Fries, which are easily large enough to accommodate the appetite of two people. They were hot and fresh. Indeed, any more fresh and the oil would have scalded our fingers. They come with three sauces but I preferred them plain or with ketchup. The sauces, while interesting, seemed more gimmicky than anything else. The three sauces are their own "special sauce" as well as a curried ketchup and a chipotle mayo. The special sauce was the best, and although it went well on the burgers, I wasn't dying to drench my fries in them. Speaking of the burgers, they were great.

Bare Burger offers a unique customization feature. You pick the meat (beef, turkey, chicken, veggie-burger, portabella mushroom, bison, elk, ostrich or lamb) and then pick the bun (brioche, 7-grain, a wrap, or sandwiched in carb-free iceberg lettuce). We decided to order two versions of their regular burger: the Original Bareburger with Beef and the Original Bareburger with Elk. The beef burger was delicious, but the elk burger was something else. I was expecting it to be gamey and tough. Gritty even. Instead, it was like beef with the volume turned up. I recommend everyone get elk. I know I will next time I'm here.

Wait for food: maybe ten minutes.
Cost: $18 including drink and tax and tip.
Burger: small but awesome.
Fries: perfection ruined by weirdo sauces.
Atmosphere: well lit, casual, calm.
Verdict: all of the fat and calories, none of the guilt.

370 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 247-6717

Lucky's on 52nd Street (and a new one on West 23rd Street) makes the bold claim that they make the best burgers on Earth. Earth. Could THIS be the burger joint we'll be asking to supply our alien visitors with bunly goodness? They might be. After all it's a good sign when the guy behind the counter is swamped with phone call orders and there seem to be an unending array of people ordering five or six or ten lucky burgers at a time. The guy in front of me ordered $70 worth of hamburgers. And this was on a Sunday.

Walking into Lucky's requires sunglasses. It's overwhelmingly yellow. I'm pretty sure that the walls can tan you. No table service here, just get in line and get yourself some food, find a seat, and enjoy. I ordered two sandwiches here, the Lucky Burger with American cheese and Lucky's Famous Chicken Sandwich. Both come loaded with lettuce and tomato and onion and pickle. And the Lucky Sauce. The chicken sandwich is actual grilled chicken, not that processed, breaded, deep fried thing so many fast food chains give you. Of course, then it's loaded down in spicy mayo topped with bacon. So, uh, yeah it tastes good. The Lucky burger is probably as close to an In-N-Out Burger you'll get in NYC. Fresh, amazingly good and topped with a "special sauce". Sorry deeply-religious readers, no bible verses on the accoutrements. The fries, while good, do not compare to the burgers.

I was in a rush and took the food out to my double-parked car and photographed it on the hood before grabbing a quick bite and racing off through the QMT home. I think eating food that makes your eyes roll back in your head might be more dangerous than driving with a cell phone. Thankfully, it's not illegal.

Wait for food: longer than I'd have expected.
Cost: $10 plus tax.
Burger: damn.
Fries: less damn.
Atmosphere: yellow and orange.
Verdict: the best burger on EARTH? I dunno... Earth's pretty big. But it's up there.

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