1663 First Avenue
New York, NY 10028
I had heard about The Burger Bistro via one of those daily food, drink, and things-you-could-totally-do-if-only-you-weren't-single-or-if-you-had-friends-who-enjoyed-doing-stuff email newsletters that every New Yorker between the ages of 25 and 35 gets a dozen of and decided to head out of my lunchtime convenience zone to the upper east side to partake in its unhealthiness. Inside, it's not large, but it's hardly a postage stamp. There are perhaps fifteen tables. If most burger joints are well lit and bright to convey a sort of fun, good times to be had by all mood, Burger Bistro is dark, but not oddly so. With its wine and beer list, it clearly wants to convey a sort of bar scene atmosphere without having an actual bar to sit at.
The Burger Bistro is one of those burger places where you create your own bespoke hamburger. You pick from their selection of meats, cheeses, sauces, toppings, and buns and concoct your very own heart attack conveyance system. You want something wacky like a shrimp burger with goat cheese, wasabi mayo, and hot Italian sausage on garlic bread? Go for it. You want something shi shi like organic lamb with smoked gouda, applewood bacon, and a horseradish cream sauce on a brioche bun? Knock yourself out. They also have a handful of nifty appetizers. I went for the Deep Fried Corn on the Cob served with a drizzle of chipotle mayo. It was amazing. It's not deep fried with a batter, so it doesn't feel like you're eating corn in the least healthy way possible. It was as moist as though it had been cooked any other "normal" way, and the chipotle mayo really did add a new but welcome layer of flavor. My only complaints were that they added salt, which I thought was unnecessary, and they give you two of them. So it's a lot of food.
Rather than choose to make up my own hamburger, I went with The Burger Bistro's Luther Burger. It's a bacon, egg, and cheese hamburger served with a glazed doughnut instead of a bun. Basically, the perfect food for a convicted felon who can't make up his mind what his last meal should be. Initially, I thought for sure they had to have stolen the idea from Paula Deen, a woman who's made her living by killing more Southerners with diabetes than Yankee musket balls could have ever hoped to. But no. Although she did co-opt the recipe for her show, apparently, it's been around since Luther Vandross invented it, according to legend. I ordered it medium rare and was glad I did. There was something oddly satisfying about eating a blood-soaked doughnut. I'm not going to go nuts and say it was the best cheeseburger I'd ever eaten, but it was pretty good. It was an experience. The glaze of the doughnut on my fingers did make doing my lunchtime crossword puzzle more difficult than I'm normally accustomed to, but it's a small price to pay for something tasty (the big price will be paid by my left ventricle). If I could make a small suggestion to the chefs, it would be this: first, add way more bacon and make it low sodium. On a dish like a Luther burger, every ingredient is powerful and fighting for the domination of your taste buds. Beef and cheese and fried eggs and a glazed doughnut and bacon. They're all foods with type-A personalities and not used to playing second fiddle. The bacon wasn't given enough volume in this particular screaming match and was completely lost with the exception of its salt. So I tasted THAT, but no bacon. And the egg would have been so much better if it bled yolk all over the plate. Oh, that would have been amazing.
I stupidly ordered a side of Seasoned Fries, which were no better than meh. The seasoning added nothing and I was so full by the time I even tried eating them that even picking at them for a half hour didn't put too much of a dent in the pile. I did not order any dessert. The service was very very good.
My lunch, which was an appetizer, a side of fries, a soda, and a burger came out to around $35 with tax and tip. The Luther burger, an off menu "special" was $18 of that. Typically, you should expect to pay about $12 with fixin's.
There are two other Burger Bistro locations. One in Bay Ridge, and one in Park Slope.
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