Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: The Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig
314 W. 11th Street (cross street: Greenwich St.)
(212) 620-0393
Burger: The Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese ($17) 

With each new review we write at Burger Bedlam, we take some time following our burger consumption to reflect on what we, hopefully, just enjoyed. Often, we visit a restaurant/bar/gastropub and immediately know where to rank the burger and what our review will look and sound like. Further, we tend to feel a sense of accomplishment considering we have taken another step towards our lofty goal of trying every “contender” for the title of best NYC burger. Our most recent review, The Spotted Pig, certainly fell into the category of “highly anticipated” in regard to past critic’s praises, reader hype, and our own ranking expectations. To say that we presumed a top 5 ranking would be accurate, yet, we always try to temper our expectations in order to not put the burger on a “pedestal” prior to reviewing it…unbiased opinion is a must, right? As we said in our preview post, The Spotted Pig is home to the highly praised Chargrilled Burger with a heaping amount Roquefort Cheese. Chef April Bloomfield of Michelin Star and Top Chef (judge) fame has consistently received recognition for having the best burger in NYC. Additionally, the Spotted Pig is home to an incredibly constructed blend of beef from meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda, notorious for top notch blends. We hoped the burger could live up to the immense buildup...fingers crossed.

Our Expectations: The Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese. Yes, we’ve come for the beef in a pig named restaurant. Just because the name says pig, don’t be fooled, the burger is the true reason to hitch a ride to the west village. Topped with what’s been termed an “ice-cream scoop sized” amount of Roquefort cheese, we expect somewhat of a cheese attack to go with our chargrilled patty blended by Pat LaFrieda. A sizable burger, weighing almost a pound, The Pig’s presentation is a staple in most review’s we’ve read. Donning square grid marks on the bun and accompanied by a huge pile of shoestring fries, the burger should still be the centerpiece of the plate.

The Burger

Meat: Tender, check. Juicy, check. Freshness, check. Seasoned to perfection, double-check. Enough saltiness to whet your palate, but not overbearing, and it comes with a slight crispiness in every bite. As far as beef and preparation, the patty left nothing to be desired. A true testament to the chef, we would gladly eat this burger sans cheese and enjoy it. Further, as expected, our orders were sent in with a medium rare request and came out to the tune of medium rare to medium. Most burgers from our reviews to date have been consistent to the point where they don’t undercook the meat. Trust us, you don’t want to be near that fine line where your cow is still mooing. Though, as Brett stated, his was “maybe a bit closer to medium in looks but not noticeable as I ate.” Regardless of any temperature transgressions (sorry Tiger, we stole your word), which were minimal, our mouths still water as we write.

Toppings: Roquefort, a.k.a. blue cheese, added a dubious amount of creaminess to every bite. Being fans of blue cheese in general, this burger is a must for any blue cheese lovers out there. Yet, blue cheese haters might have reason to be deterred from trying the burger with such a copious helping on top. Though, the burger without blue cheese would still be a great burger. When you got the right bite with the perfect amount of cheese, beef, & bun it was close to perfection. Unfortunately, a slight complaint of ours was the “geography” if you will, of the topping. Having blue cheese piled in the middle of the burger makes for a few potent bites. Easily remedied, just take your knife and spread it out. Its necessary.

Bun: Top notch, the bun ranks up there with the best. Though some brioche buns tend to add too much "nuttiness," this bun added a nicely neutral but sweet flavor. Additionally, the perfectly square grid marks add a nice touch to the presentation but we wonder if the sizable bun might have been a tad big for the patty. Still, it held up to the burger’s juiciness without falling apart or making things messy…who wants to eat a burger in pieces? Plus, aside from the grill marks, the entire bun was toasted well edge to edge.

Bedlam's The Spotted Pig Judgment

Meat (48): Delectable and nearly euphoric. High marks for slight but not overwhelming saltiness and an obviously fresh product. Cooked well and with an accurate combination of juicy tenderness.

(22): A powerful cheese, the Roquefort was to our liking, but has the potential to overpower an eater. It needs a little more careful spreading across the top of the patty, but it complements the beef mightily. We do wonder, however, what this baby would taste like with some American or if it could hold up sans cheese.

Bun (22):
A tad big but not to be overshadowed, the bun stands out for its great texture and perfectly toasted edges. Tasty but still complementary, its a solid bun that adds to the enjoyable eating experience.

Rating: 92 out of 100

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: The Spotted Pig

Readers of Burger Bedlam know that we post our reviews with a focus on the three sections of every burger: Meat, Toppings and Bun. Each review involves a bit of scrutiny with every section and we try not to take ourselves too seriously when doing so...these are burgers after-all, not necessarily high end cuisine. Yet, our next stop in our search for the best burger in NYC brings us to a destination that can't be overlooked for its unique atmosphere and unmistakable notoriety with trendy New Yorkers, foodies, celebrities and tourists alike - The Spotted Pig. Home to a culinary icon in New York, April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig is co-owned by a few other esteemed chefs and restaurateurs (Mario Batali being the most well-known, of Iron Chef fame). Bloomfield boasts a burger that is distinguishable from many others in the city, specifically due to the "ice cream scoop sized" amount of blue cheese nestled on top. Now, we realize that The Spotted Pig will continue our trend of "gastropub" reviews following Spitzer's Corner and Resto, but we know that this burger, unlike the previous two, has more often claimed the crown of many critic's vaunted best NYC burger title. We're ready to take a bite and can't wait to head to the West Village for some "sceney" eating. Stayed tuned...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: Resto

111 E. 29th St. (between Lexington & Park)
Burger: The Resto Burger ($15) 

In the world of foodie blogging, as it is with most popular culture websites and blogs, there is often an obsession with reviewing or visiting the newest and most hyped about location. Considering our topic of choice on this site and the city in which we live, it comes as no surprise to yours truly that we regularly receive requests or comments to review the latest burger concoction or the burger du jour…you know, the burger of the day. Mmm that sounds good, we’ll have that. C’mon, you get a chance to reference Dumb and Dumber, you take it (clip here - wait for the 29 second mark). Take a trip back to 2007 memory lane and you shall come across New York Magazine’s “Best of New York” anointment of the best burger in NYC from Resto. Now, Resto brings us to our second straight “gastropub” in our line of reviewing, following Spitzer’s Corner, albeit a bit more north of 14th street in Manhattan. Delivering a Belgian menu and providing a plentiful amount of craft beers on tap, in its brief noshing history Resto has made its name on three Bs: brunch, beers and best of all, burgers.

Our Expectations: The Resto Burger, aptly referenced on the menu as “burger.” A fresh, in-house ground portion of beef and pork, Gruyere cheese, red onion, pickle and mayo with a fried egg placed gently on top. With such lofty praise to live up to, we have high expectations for this burger. Though, we prepare to eat with overwhelming pessimism due to specific review’s we have read on the inconsistency of the cooking temperature mostly attributed to the fact that the meat cannot be cooked to order in part to the addition of pork in the patty. We have yet to try a pork infused patty in our review history, so we are a bit psyched for a taste. Additional pessimism lies in our lukewarm attraction to Gruyere cheese. Known as a “smelly” cheese, we tend to side with American or Cheddar as our cheese of choice. Still, we arrive with open minds and no bias toward a Belgian burger. Who doesn’t love new worldly experiences? Quite frankly, that’s why we do what we do, to experience the best of burgers in New York and provide you, our readers, with unbiased opinions. Even if we raise that cholesterol count…its well worth it. Word.

The Burger

Meat: If you haven’t yet tried a fresh, in-house ground patty, Resto might just be the place to start. With reservations on the temperature cooking, we took a bite of this patty and our mouths instantaneously watered. Due to the mixture of both beef and pork, the restaurant and chef require a medium well preparation. They know their stuff, because the results are overwhelming in regard to the texture. The beef breaks apart gently, providing a tasty but still juicy bite. The freshness is apparent and the size is just right, if not the tiiiiiniest bit too small. The patty fills the bun effortlessly but is also somewhat engulfed by the toppings. Conversely, a minor flaw we could state in the patty was its saltiness. We could easily have done without so much, so slow down there my man chef.

Toppings: Gruyere can be off-putting to some, but this burger’s “upper-crust” preparation almost requires the addition of a change of pace cheese. The flavor doesn’t overwhelm and the cheese flows down the sides of the patty with eloquence. The fried egg is standard fare and not necessarily noticeably with every bite. We’re not sure its necessary, but it is a decent complement to the burger and cheese. The pickle and onions add a much needed crunch to the softness of the patty while the mayo blends well with the rest of the toppings and isn’t noticeable heavy-handed on the bun.

Bun: Many burgers we’ve tried lack in one area or another, thus the reason we’ve yet to bestow a perfect rating. Here, Resto fails to deliver on what we would define as an devastatingly poor choice. The white bun is too paper-thin and bite by bite it deteriorated. It might as well have come on the side because we got halfway through our burgers and removed the remaining remnants. Sadness ensued. You’ve got to bring up your game, Resto. The bun seemed possibly stale and we longed for our favorite potato-style bun, or even brioche.

Bedlam's Resto Judgment

Meat (45): A great and surprisingly powerful combination of fresh beef and pork with a delicate bite and juicy flavor. Good to the last bite but get that water ready cause the salt may provide a sneak attack!

(21): The Gruyere complemented the burger well while the egg provided a slight taste and texture contrast and the pickles and onion grabbed us with the crunch. The mayo wasn’t heavy-handed or too overwhelming.

Bun (18):
The downfall of the entire burger composition, this bun may be up there with the worst we’ve tried. Not much flavor and poor consistency, the bun fell apart at the seams. Much like the Royale review, Resto could make a simple substitution and win us over.

84 out of 100

Monday, November 16, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: Resto

Tucked away in the quiet block between Park and Lexington on 29th Street sits the Belgian gastropub Resto, what New York Magazine dubbed a "meat-eater's paradise" in their official review in 2007. More notably to us at Burger Bedlam was New York Magazine's declaration that same year, naming Resto's burger the best burger in NYC. Obviously such a claim forces further exploration from yours truly, and we must say we're extremely anxious to make the trip. Tempting us often, we have walked by Resto, being the Murray Hill locals that we are, and wondered what all the fuss was about. The hard part, as we must disclose, is deciding to stop at Resto while a few hundred feet more could land us at our favorite Manhattan Barbecue spot, Blue Smoke. *Side note, Blue Smoke also has a tempting burger...one that we just may have to review in the future. Considering we haven't walked by Resto since starting Burger Bedlam, its about time we give it it's just due. Reminiscing back to our very first best burger review, 5 Napkin Burger, the Resto burger provides a mouthful on Gruyere, making us cautiously pessimistic. Yet, with the promise of a fried egg on top and a blend of fresh ground beef and pork, we're anticipating greatness. Later this week, the day of reckoning shall commence. Until then, stay tuned our carnivorous friends...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: Spitzer's Corner

Spitzer's Corner
101 Rivington (cross st: Ludlow)
Burger: The Hickory Short Rib Burger ($10) 

*Update: To our dismay, Spitzer's removed the Hickory Short Rib Burger from their menu in 2011.

What if we were to tell you that you could enjoy a burger unlike many we at Burger Bedlam have tried before? And what if we were to tell you that you could do so while simultaneously gulping down one of 40 world class beers on draft? And what if we were to tell you that you could enjoy such a burger in one of the most happening neighborhoods in Manhattan? And what if we were to tell you that that burger just happens to be one of the best burgers in NYC? Does that sound like something you might be interested in? We thought so. Spitzer’s Corner down on Ludlow and Rivington in the Lower East Side fits the description of such a place. Now, please excuse our blatant Entourage dialogue rip-off (care of legendary Martin Landau), but how else could we sell you? Ok, maybe we could’ve gone the Glengarry Glen Ross route, because burgers are for closers. Yet, we’re pretty sure you catch our drift when we say Spitzer’s Corner might be worthy of some selling…and we think you’re gonna be buyers after this review.

Our Expectations: The Hickory Short Rib Burger. A generous eight ounce short rib patty, hickory sauce, BBQ onions and a Guss' Pickle. Add some cheddar and bacon to taste and we're golden. We have some incredibly high expectations at this Lower East Side "gastropub," directly stemming from the amount of praise we've heard from our readers. Granted we had been there once before, we failed to try the burger...chalk it up to too many beers. A buzz can turn your flavor palette bias and how could we honestly eat a burger after three to four quality brews? That's not just, partiuculary when we're on a mission to soberly choose the best NYC burger.

The Burger

Meat: Our first experience with a Short Rib burger, but definitely not to be our last. We foresee many pleasant experiences in our future chowing down on some short rib. Extreme taste, which correlates to the fact that this type of meat often produces heavy marbling. It comes as no surprise that Spitzer's burger hit us with such powerful flavor. Couple that with the fantastic consistency of the meat along with what we consider some of the best special sauce we've tasted on a burger.

Toppings: Continuing where we left off above, the hickory sauce: magnificent. A sweet yet savory flavor that we embrace as possibly the best of any toppings sauce we've had on an NYC burger. If that doesn't whet your appetite, how about the BBQ onions? Great execution, providing another added kick which provides the burger with even more flavor. The bacon is crisp and thick and the cheddar was melted perfectly. Its hard to screw up melted cheese, but you'd be surprised at how many burger establishments have failed to conquer the task. Its not to be overlooked.

Bun: Soft and slightly toasted (not noticeably though), the bun was good, but not perfect. Unfortunately, it swallowed the burger, as its ratio to created a bun to burger overload. We'd rather not bite into a burger and chew off more bread than burger. Sure we're being somewhat picky here, but we're entitled. You've got to do everything right to earn the top spot in our rankings and consistency is key.

Bedlam's Spitzer's Corner

Meat (46): Amazingly flavorful, with tender juiciness. The marbling factor in the short rib provides a great bite, every time.

Toppings (23):
The hickory sauce is fantastic and brings together everything on the burger. If a topping were ever to be known to amplify the meat and flavor, consider this sauce a perfect example. The onions, cheese and bacon are delicious and top notch, but are beaten hands down by the sauce.

Bun (21):
Soft, but not quite toasted enough. The burger to bread ratio is heavily weighted towards the bread, and that's not a good thing. We like more meat and less bun.

Rating: 90 out of 100

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: Spitzer's Corner

For those Burger Bedlam readers looking to take an adventure south of Houston Street, this next best burger in NYC review is for you. This weekend, we will mosey on down to the “earthy retreat” know as Spitzer’s Corner on Ludlow and Rivington. Long a favorite of ours (currently in our #2 spot), this “American gastropub” earned our praise well before the humble beginnings of Burger Bedlam last year with its Hickory Short Rib Burger. Especially as we simultaneously polished off a few of Spitzer’s 40 world class beers on tap. Delicious would be an understatement when reminiscing about the flavors we encountered at the time, but our memories of bliss have lingered for quite a while. Like a couple of kids on Christmas morning (or Hanukkah eve for Kyle) we can’t wait to have another crack at the Spitzer’s Corner burger. Cooked in hickory sauce, topped with BBQ onions, lettuce and a Guss pickle, our mouths water at the very thought of devouring the Hickory Short Rib Burger again. Can you blame us? And did we forget to mention that the Spitzer’s menu is brought to you by Michelin and New York Times rated Chef Sung Park? Who’s he, you ask? He’s the guy who thought up the darn burger…that’s all that matters! It’s the same burger that might very well give Shake Shack a run for its best burger in NYC title. In a few days come back and check out our review. Or better yet, sign up for our e-mail list at the top left of this page and get the scoop automatically e-mailed to you. Til then, stay tuned…

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: Shake Shack

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park (Cross St: Madison Ave & E. 23rd)
Burger: The Double ShackBurger ($7.25) 

Let's be clear: we maintain no bias, all burgers are treated equally. Our reviews of what we hope to be the best burgers in NYC follow the same practical evaluation and judgment follows a three section analysis (ha, lets not get too serious here...its burgers). Yet, it's no secret, we have a soft spot for a certain type of burger. That taste bud tempting burger that combines a greasy spoon fast food style burger with secret sauce, grilled onions, melted cheese and a fresh bun gets us every time. Still, we continue to be on the lookout for a different kind of burger that will take our breath mouths away. If we're going to find something different, something new, we certainly live in the right city. When it comes to the genius that is Danny Meyer, we realize his Madison Square Park burger joint, Shake Shack, doesn't recreate the wheel with their burger. But, in yours truly's opinion, there aren't many that do it better. Plain and simple.

Our Expectations: The Double ShackBurger. Two fresh steer burgers (ground daily) with meat from who else - Pat LaFrieda, American cheese, Shack Sauce (mayo-based, but all else is secret), lettuce, and tomato on a potato (yeah!) roll. Onions and pickles are optional and served on the side. All Shake Shack burgers are cooked medium, but take our word for it after plenty of experience eating at Shake Shack (we're "experts" remember?), burgers always come between medium and medium well. Among the expectations we normally have, we also expected a serious line. Of course, most New Yorkers know about the consistent line at Shake Shack and that's why the Shake Shack website provides a "Shack Cam." Check it out for yourselves here. Either way, we also expected the usual tourist questions from passerbys: "Is the burger worth the wait?" or "How fast does this line go?" Those questions might be as consistent as the line.

The Burger

Meat: Lets get our first and only complaint of the ShackBurger's meat out of the way: It's a slightly tough. Not to say it doesn't taste fresh, because it is, as advertised. Yet, we wish it was cooked to temperature in a better manner. Definitely more medium well than medium. Now the seasoning, it rocks our world. Some of the best we've had...like butter. It's perfect, Brett just won't shut up about it! As for the patties, their size is to our liking. They maintain their texture throughout and aren't overwhelmed or drowned by the bun or toppings.

Toppings: Some delicious stuff going on here. The toppings on the ShackBurger won't suffocate you, as some best NYC burger candidates might. The Shack Sauce drips gently over the patties, with just enough to add flavor without cramping the meat's style. The lettuce and tomato are fresh and the American cheese melts like a blanket of gooey goodness over both patties. When ordering from Shake Shack, you're doing yourself no favors by leaving off the toppings...especially the Shack Sauce. DO IT! If you're going to wait on line for an hour plus, you better get whats good, and whats good are these toppings.

Bun: The perfect bun. We really shouldn't have to say more. But, our review demands more and we'd never leave our readers hanging. Shake Shack uses a glorious and fresh potato roll. From this, we've decided a potato roll or bun of some sort should be the default. Don't mess with sesame or white rolls. Leave the brioche for the heathens. Serve us a burger on a potato roll and you'll win our hearts. As for why this bun is the best, besides being made from spuds, we'd use the words soft and flavorful and tell you that its expertly toasted. We challenge you to find much better.

Bedlam's Shake Shack

Meat (47): Immense flavor, addictive taste. We order two at a time...check the pics. Though, it leaves us wanting more in the texture category, but that doesn't prevent our double order.

Toppings (23):
Shake Sauce is a must, American cheese blends well, all the rest are fresh and crunchy. Solid bunch.

Bun (25):
Perfection. Buttery, sweet, soft and a perfect compliment to the patty.

95 out of 100

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: Shake Shack

If you’re a loyal reader of Burger Bedlam, and we hope you are (sign up for our e-mail distribution at the top left of our home page!), you wouldn’t be surprised to see us rank Shake Shack as the best NYC burger. Stemming from our long-devoted love (infatuation?) with In-N-Out Burger on the west coast, finding a burger in NYC that has all of the attributes of a Double Double Animal Style would certainly make us giddy. While we long for the day that In-N-Out Burger makes its way east (doubtful), we have, in the past, found Shake Shack to adequately fill the void.

From the genius that is Danny Meyer, the owner and restaurateur of such fine establishments as, among others, Gramercy Tavern, Tabla & Blue Smoke, comes this modest burger destination in Madison Square Park. No matter rain or shine, day or night, and as consistent as New York City traffic at rush hour, the line for burger bliss at Shake Shack runs rampant. It isn’t hard to understand why. Common sense tells us that the line is bound to be long with only two (!!!) ordering counters for burgers which most definitely creates a herd mentality. Amusingly, it’s not uncommon to find park strolling tourists asking “what’s with the line?” or “is it worth it?” Yet, a deeper understanding can be attributed to the long-standing belief by many that Shake Shack serves up the best burger in NYC. Currently atop our burger rankings, will Shake Shack live up to its top billing? Or will it fall from our good graces and relinquish its title like its burger companion JG Melon before it? Stay tuned…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: J.G. Melon

 J.G. Melon
1291 Third Ave (cross street: 74th St.)
Burger: The J.G. Melon Bacon Cheeseburger ($9.50) 

As a tourist or New Yorker alike, it is more than likely that you've been educated by many on what they deem to be the "best burger in NYC." Obviously, that's Burger Bedlam's main objective here, but you and we both know, its all subjective. We set out on our journey for burger judgment with that in mind, its a matter of opinion. Its apparent that, depending on a variety of factors, one can make the argument for or against some of the many options you have in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. It's probable that burger lovers in the area have more often than not mentioned J.G. Melon among the best. It's easy to see why, especially with the restaurant's devotion to grilling up fresh, thick and juicy meat. So, on a mission to digest the best, we made our way to the notorious pub on the Upper East Side, dining amongst preppies and popped collars.

Our Expectations: The J.G. Melon Bacon Cheeseburger. Why go for the basic burger when they have bacon and cheese ready and waiting? Not to mention the bacon here is thick and crispy, a bacon lover's dream. Most J.G. Melon enthusiasts recommend the cheeseburger, we at Burger Bedlam say go all the way. With a thick, eight ounce patty, standard onions, lettuce and tomato, the bacon and American cheese add to this burger's "oomph" factor. Served on a soft white roll, you couldn't really get any more American than that.

The Burger

Meat: You want freshness from a patty? Head to J.G. Melon. The ground beef stands out as a freshly done and well-cooked heifer. Yeah, we said heifer. That's a female cow. Still, truth be told, the seasoning department has some work to do. Other burger destination's meat can claim true flavor, J.G. Melon is a bit of a letdown in the area. Some may argue for freshness over flavor, but then again, they don't write this blog! We value both here at Burger Bedlam, and aren't satisfied without a complete combination.

Toppings: Bacon, bacon, bacon...we love bacon. And if you're looking for some serendipitous bacon, look no further. To date, we haven't found a burger joint that can provide us with better cured pork. Marry that with the perfect execution of melted American cheese and you've got a winning combination of toppings. Throw on a few pickles, some raw onion, crisp fresh lettuce and a tomato, if you so desire, and you're sittin' pretty.

Bun: We've come to find that its hard to mess up the bun. Now we're not gonna go ahead and put J.G. Melon in the "failed" category, but it needs some work. A bit dry, adding nothing to the taste or texture of the burger as a whole, the bun left us high and, um, dry. If you want the crown of best NYC burger, you gotta step up your game!

Bedlam's J.G. Melon

Meat (45): Fresh, yes. Flavorful, no. A great amount of juiciness and tender texture, but how 'bout some seasoning maestro?

Toppings (22):
Bacon bliss, choice cheese and fresh vegetables make us happy. We couldn't ask for a better bunch.

Bun (20):
Too dry and not much added value. A disappointment all around.

87 out of 100

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: JG Melon

If you call yourself a New Yorker, you more than likely have trekked to the Upper East Side for our next Burger Bedlam review, JG Melon. Home to preppy college grads, upper-class families and trendy socialites, the Upper East Side embraces this burger hot spot as a destination to dine, drink and devour their signature JG Melon bacon cheeseburger. Devotion is a word often used to express the neighborhood clienteles love for this place. With a burger most often hyped with Shake Shack as the best burger in NYC, you can venture here during business hours on weekday or weekend and it never fails, you’ll find a line backed up to the door. Although, that can often be attributed to the tight quarters inside, where the bar and kitchen take up the most space up front. Matter of fact, it isn’t uncommon to find yourself involved in multiple conversations and opining over a variety of subjects considering your table is most likely within a foot of the next dining party. Yet, that makes the burger eating experience an even more genuine one…since you can enjoy it amongst like-minded burger lovers. You can count us among the long-time lovers of JG Melon…repeat customers of course. Currently sitting atop of our best burger rankings, we’re hoping our next experience confirms our previous praise. Disappointingly, it has been a few months since our last visit, and the opportunity to dine again can’t come soon enough. You can find us there this weekend, with a bacon cheeseburger in one hand and a mug of Bass or Sam in the other, helping us wash the tasty and supposed best NYC burger down. As for our review, stay tuned…

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: Blue 9 Burger

Blue 9 Burger
92 Third Ave (between 12th & 13th)
Burger: The Blue 9 Burger ($9.25) 

At Burger Bedlam's inception, we came up with, based on our previous experiences, an initial top 5 of the best NYC burgers and burger joints. Included in that top 5 was a burger destination near and dear to our hearts. Akin to our West Coast obsession, In-N-Out Burger was Blue 9 Burger. A burger based on the same proud principles of fresh, never frozen meat. Special sauce, double stacked patties and gloriously melted cheese with grilled onions nestled on top. How can you go wrong? Not to mention, Blue 9 Burger was born in the same Big Ten university business school that we graced for four amazing years. So, when it came time to take our burger review tour to Blue 9 Burger, naturally we were pumped to return after an almost one year hiatus. Would this reunion end happily ever after?

Our Expectations: The Blue 9 Burger. As we mentioned, this one draws strong comparisons to an In-N-Out Double Double. Along with the Double Shack Burger at Shake Shack, it's quite often mentioned as the closest you can come this side of the Mississippi. Two fresh, never frozen patties, special sauce, lettuce, American cheese, grilled onions on a soft white roll. Wrapped in paper, soaking up all that juicy burger grease, thoughts of the Blue 9 Burger always made our mouths water.

The Burger

Meat: Freshness? Check. Tenderness? Check. Anything else? Bueller, Bueller, Bueller? How bout a little flavor? Seasoning? Juiciness? As Kyle's Grandma might say, Oye Vey. It just ain't there. As many of our readers had mentioned in our preview a few days ago, this burger's taste has gone south. The meat is the main reason why. As Brett said while eating, "where's the flavor?" We both agree, the meat is fresh, but is sure lacks in the flavor department. The best burgers in NYC all share a common bond, ideal flavor and superb seasoning. Blue 9, although it can be considered more of a fast food burger, dropped the ball. You can't order the burger to the temperature of your choice, and that likely detracts from the juicy flavor you get out of fresh ground beef.

Toppings: The toppings save this burger any further embarrassment. The American cheese is melted splendidly across the patties. The grilled onions add a bit of sweetness to every bite and the special sauce shines above the average flavor we found in the beef. The lettuce is your standard iceberg fare. But do you really get excited about lettuce? Overall, the toppings are respectable, if not just above average. Had they let us down, you were looking at a considerable drop in this burger's ranking...although it might be on its way down anyway.

Bun: If Blue 9 got one thing right with their burger, it's the toasting of the bun. That shouldn't be overlooked as we've had some seriously charred buns in our day, its a burger killer. You can't overlook this detail, it makes for bad presentation and poor taste. Who wants a blackened bun detracting from the taste of their burger? Not us, no sir. The soft white roll came out as it should, toasted lightly with a soft center and never falling apart. Thank goodness.

Blue 9 Burger Judgment

Meat (33): Where have you gone, flavor? Solid tenderness and a great fresh composition, but seasoning? Not so much.
Toppings (22): We never hate on grilled onions, American cheese and special sauce. That combo is one of our favorites. Still, we've had better.
Bun (15): Toasted well, standard white roll.

70 out of 100

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: Blue 9 Burger

It seems like a recurring theme these days for us at Burger Bedlam: Walk to the East Village, eat a burger. It's no coincidence, some of the best NYC burgers are located there. From hyped joints such a Royale, Veselka, Paul's Place and today's preview, Blue 9, you definitely have your pick of the litter. Blue 9 comes to us after a few years of In-N-Out type comparisons by plenty of our West Coast friends and especially from our previous experiences there. Always fresh and never frozen, similar Animal Style (grilled onions and special sauce) options, and wrapped like an In-N-Out burger, the comparisons make sense. Further, considering how we just made a pit stop on the West Coast for a Double Double, we figured we'd stick with the theme this week and review one of our long-time favorites. Not to mention Brett remains extremely jealous of Kyle's In-N-Out adventure and needed some sort of appeasement. Otherwise, he may have been forced to hop a flight to LA...but a trip to Blue 9 was cheaper. Will our love for this In-N-Out fashioned burger joint continue? Or will it drop from our top 5? We're hoping it has staying power, stay tuned...

Burger Bedlam Takes a West Coast Break: In-N-Out Burger

So, lets get one thing straight...we are NOT traitors. We love NYC. We love the best burgers in NYC and we otherwise wouldn't have dubbed our site link after what we seek to do here at Burger Bedlam, find the best NYC burger. Still, we hold a special place in our hearts for In-N-Out Burger. If you've had it before, you'd appreciate our affinity for this west coast burger staple. Moreover, you might be hard pressed to argue the presumption that their burger is a drug...because they can cause a serious twitch at the very thought of biting into a Double Double Animal Style. Reminiscing back to our days on Junior year Spring Break in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, you might even call us addicts based on the amount of Double Doubles we consumed in a 7 day period. We ate 6, yes 6...in 7 days. Each of us, not combined. One day, we had 2. Good G-d. Thankfully we had a pre-med doctor with us, 'cause we needed cholesterol blood work done on a daily basis. That soon to be doctor, our good buddy Jeff, along with his LA companions from our college had talked up In-N-Out 'til we were blue in the face prior to the trip. They certainly knew their stuff. Following that trip, we couldn't get enough.

Anyway, Kyle got the opportunity to hit up an In-N-Out on his recent venture west- and in the valley no less! Porter Ranch to be exact. Once again, In-N-Out didn't disappoint. For those of you who have no clue what In-N-Out Burger is (how dare you!), check this link for some background straight from Wikipedia: In-N-Out Burger. Additionally, definitely check out their site here. What we love about In-N-Out Burger is the always fresh and never frozen ingredients, the culture, the "secret" (not so secret to a repeat customer) menu, the thousand island based special sauce, and the overall quality of the eating experience. Although the meat might not rival the best burgers in NYC that we rate, the toppings take the cake when it comes to taste and combined flavor of every bite. We highly recommend ordering a Double Double Animal Style. Think Double Shack Burger from Shake Shack, but west coast style. Sound good? Yeah, it is. Check out the pics below for some closer details of why we love In-N-Out so much. A full review would come...if our URL were bestburgerla.com, but it isn't. Just know, we love us some In-N-Out.

Double Double Animal Style (special sauce & grilled onions)

A few bites in, we wish it was Medium Rare, but it's still fast food.

The aftermath...greasy goodness.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: Royale

157 Avenue C (cross street: 10th St.)
Burger: The Bacon Royale ($8.50) 

Hipsters and Hamburgers? Sound like a match made in heaven? It would appear so. Consider this, you'd need two hands to count the amount of East Village NYC burger joints on our hyped (to be visited), ranked, and potential contender lists. Most notably, Royale. Home of the Bacon Royale, the burger de choix for neighborhood locals. Man, how the heck do they fit into their skinny jeans?!? If the two of us at Burger Bedlam lived closer, we might end up looking like this. Yes, ill-tempered and fluffy. Regardless, we hopped down to Alphabet City with the notion that we had a contender in our midst. On to the dance...

Our Expectations: The Bacon Royale. A mouth-watering combination of beef, pork and dairy. With bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion, it's as American as one can get. Our personal favorite type of burger to consume, bacon cheeseburgers make their way to our hearts, either in the form of cholesterol or love, but who's keeping track? Such things are inconsequential in our burger blogging lives. We just know the patty comes from 75 pecent Black Angus, it's bun from Tom Cat Bakery and the cheese is Boar's Head.

The Burger

Meat: To date, chalk this one up as the champ, 'cause this beef delivered a powerful punch. Obviously, we got back up to finish off our burgers, but the first bite landed a strong blow. Fresh as can be, perfectly seasoned, and tenderly delicious. The patty, consisting of 75 perfect Black Angus, combined superb taste with a perfectly broiled and glazed outer coating. Even better, it was cooked to temperature just as we specified. A medium rare burger like the one at Royale is exactly what we expect from all of the best burger establishments in NYC.

Toppings: Lets give the bacon a B+, not the best we've had, but its well ahead of the curve. The cheese, well that left something to be desired. We both chose American, our favorite on a cheeseburger, but maybe Cheddar would've been a wiser choice. Blue cheese is also an option, but keep in mind that can overpower the patty. As burger traditionalists we couldn't succumb to that option. Swiss is available too, but we moved right past it. Maybe we're being finicky, but our cheese came off in globs and wasn't smothered delicately over the patty. Remember Mom's grilled cheeses? Sometimes you need those reminiscent characteristics on a burger, expertly organized and well thought out...obviously hold the tomato soup. The rest, fresh lettuce, tomato and onion. Even a few pickles thrown in there which always add a zesty crunch, if you dare.

Bun: Utter disappointment...plain and simple. Royale captured our hearts up to this point, but the dry, tough texture of the sesame seed bun really did this burger wrong. Though they're skillfully created by Tom Cat Bakery, which is a wondrous place, the bun came hard as a rock and lacking substantially fluffiness. It just may have been old and stale, or perhaps we caught Royale on an off day. Regardless, bearing full disclosure, this was the first burger joint where we decided to remove the top portion of the bun halfway through eating in order to enjoy the goodness of the beef and toppings.

Bedlam's Royale Judgment

Meat (48):
A true knockout. Killer taste, tenderness and temperature. To date, our favorite beef of the bunch we've reviewed.

Toppings (21):
Above average. Success on the bacon, slight reduction for the cheese, but no flair after that. Definite room for improvement..

Bun (17):
If the owner's of Royale are reading this, we loved your burger, but please (!!!) change that bun. A potato bun would do wonders for the Bacon Royale. Possibly vaulting it higher up on our rankings. Still, we saw the idea behind the bun, from a strong bakery. Perhaps we just caught you at your worst.

86 out of 100

Monday, July 27, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: Royale

Nestled among hipster hangouts and around the corner from some serious horticulture (there are over 40 gardens in the East Village with an especially awesome one on 9th and Avenue C) sits Royale, a kick back and relax type venue serving what many call the best burger in NYC. Located in the Alphabet City section of the East Village, Royale provides its patrons with a Tarantino sized pop culture reference, conjuring memories of that vivaciously cool and brilliant dialogue from Pulp Fiction:

Vincent: Know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: Naw, man, they got the metric system, they wouldn't know what the f**k a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a "Royale with Cheese".
Jules: "Royale with Cheese".
Vincent: That's right.
Jules: What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: A Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "Le Big Mac".
Jules: [in mock French accent] "Le Big Mac." [laughs] What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I don't know, I didn't go in a Burger King.
Granted, we don’t anticipate running into Travolta or Sam Jackson on this trip (Samuel L. Jackson Beer anyone?!?), we eagerly await a chance to try the Bacon Royale. Or, as we say in NYC, "Le Bacon Cheeseburger." Obviously we "dig swine" as much as the next burger enthusiast, so hopefully the bacon satisfies as much as the meat and American do. Plus, even though we aren’t on the metric system here in the city, a 7-8 ounce bacon cheeseburger for $8.50 sounds about right. Stay tuned you badass motherf**kers, the review is forthcoming...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: Rare Bar & Grill

303 Lexington Ave. (cross street: 37th St.)
(212) 481-1999
Burger: The M&M Burger ($15) 

Ahh the lavish Shelburne Hotel, filled with modern opulence and serious clientele. We've come to find that burger spots around the city can sneak next to such high-end locales, while also occupying some of the dingiest spots around. Still, we raise no eyebrows, we just came for the beef. Rare Bar and Grill is located around the bend from what some may call the single greatest Mexican happy hour spot in Murray Hill, Rio Grande (margaritas anyone???). There we come to find what we at Burger Bedlam determine to be an oh-so-close to top 5 best NYC burger. Away we go...

Our Expectations:                The M & M Burger. Eight ounces of Grade "A" ground American Chuck. Flambéed in whiskey, topped with caramelized shallots, cheddar cheese and apple smoked bacon. It's making us drool just typing...(wiping our mouths). Excuse us. Anyway, some may question why we choose the M&M Burger as our review choice, but speaking from experience, this baby tops them all at Rare. It's a serious contender and the "Steakhouse Burgers" that Rare serves up are a serious $21 haul. Even so, from past eating experiences, we at Burger Bedlam know the M&M Burger is the sucka born to mess with. Those Steakhouse Burgers are nice, but they can't step into our ring, they're amateurs.

The Burger

Meat: Holy crap, it's a juicy beef volcano! Run for your lives! Nah, it's not Dante's Peak, but the M&M Burger has some great juiciness, cooked to order with perfection. As you may come to know, we're a bit picky about that temperature gauge. As we all should be. With the juiciness and temperature done well, we found the flavor to lack the luster we hope for in our best NYC burgers. Many can argue that the toppings should aid in the overall flavor of the burger, this is true. Yet, if we took off all the lovely toppings that come with the burger and get it...naked...we hope to find that the burger can stand up for itself. The M&M didn't. Still, the beef was juicy and cooked well, with some great melting tenderness while chewing. In regard to the whiskey, we know it shouldn't literally taste like whiskey, duh, but if its flambéed in that stuff, we'd hope it could give the meat some kick. Not as much as we had hoped for.

Toppings: This is where the burger as a whole shines. The caramelized shallots throw in that sweet punch that onions should and the cheddar cheese rocks the house with some great gooey run over the sides of the burger...like lava, if we may? Its just done right, no doubt. The bacon, well, its bacon. Who doesn't love bacon? Kosher, not kosher, who cares? We should really point out, our favorite spot, JG Melon does this the best. Rare tries valiantly, but its more like your average diner fare bacon than a seriously grilled and fatty strip should be. Overall, the toppings make us happy and we truly appreciate them.

Bun: As goes the theme of most of the burger palaces we have ventured to, a soft white roll was the choice at Rare. Toasted to perfection, awesomeness defined. Though, we really wished this baby held up with the entire burger eating experience. Much could be blamed on the intense juiciness of the beef, but the bun fell apart as we ate. Too much "Rare" one could say. The bun did cover the burger and the size was just right.

Bedlam's Rare Bar & Grill Judgment

Meat (42):
Juicy for sure, cooked just right, but lacking the "oomph" we like from the overall flavor. The texture hit us well, melting like an M&M should. In your mouth and not in your hand!

Toppings (22):
One of our favorite burgers in terms of the toppings. You cant go wrong grilled onions, bacon and cheddar. Its subjective, sure, but we like 'em. Don't you?

Bun (16):
Toasted well, covered the beef nicely, but fell apart too soon.

80 out of 100

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Best Burger NYC Glimpse: Rare Bar & Grill

Amongst the many questions we at Burger Bedlam get asked on a daily basis is: Does price matter when naming the best NYC burger? In short, yes. Who wants to dole out their hard earned cash for something that could barely satisfy your average burger lover? I mean, c’mon brother, you ever hear of a recession?!? Yet, sating our taste buds with the finer things in life can often require a bit more coin. Yeah, we consider beef a “finer thing” once in a while…we’re burger bloggers! Still, we’d like to exit a burger establishment with our shirt, so we often take offense to a burger priced north of $15. We do, however, take into account the quality of ingredients, location of the restaurant/bar/pub and clientele.

Thus, that argument leads us to our next best burger review, Rare Bar & Grill. Nestled next to the hip, modern and expensive Shelburne Hotel in the northwest portion of the post-college, bar-littered neighborhood we know and love, Murray Hill. According to their website, Rare promises to be “unlike any other restaurant in New York.” Past eating experiences tell us that the M&M Burger is the definitive reason to make the pilgrimage to 37th St. and Lexington Ave. Eight ounces of Grade “A” American chuck beef, flambéed in whiskey, topped with caramelized shallots, cheddar cheese and apple smoked bacon...are you hungry yet?!? Our anticipated review eating weekend can’t come fast enough. Stayed tuned…

Monday, June 29, 2009

Best Burger in NYC Search: Burger Joint

Le Parker Meridien
119 W. 56th Street (Between 6th Ave. & 7th Ave.)
(212) 245-5000
Burger: Cheeseburger ($7.50) 

Ritzy, fancy, lavish, elegant, posh, opulent even? Just some of the attributes you could easily associate with Le Parker Meridien, one of the most expensive hotels in Manhattan. Located a block away from two of the most well-known Deli's in Manhattan lore (Carnegie and Stage), our next best burger NYC adventure took us to the ever-popular, oh-so-secret (really? not so much anymore) Burger Joint. Should we have expected meat stacked like Mount Olympus and to be charged a $5 sharing fee? Nah, it's no Carnegie. With faux wood paneling, a cardboard multi-colored menu, movie posters abound and writing on the walls (literally), we knew this was gonna be casual...that's why we wore our flip-flops. On to the review...

Our Expectations: Burger Joint's Cheeseburger, with "the works." "The works," as we had read beforehand, comes with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard, ketchup, mayo and a slice of pickle. Yikes. A few toppings we'd like to chuck before even setting foot inside the place. Still, we heard the beef was the type that melts in your mouth, the stuff you'd crawl through a desert or more aptly, an NYC sewer, to taste.

The Burger

Meat: No doubt, this meat has flavor. But what makes it great is the tender juiciness. The type of texture that runs through and through, start to finish, with the first bite as good as the last. Considering its such a compact burger, that's quite a feat. Similar to that cookout burger (grilled on an open flame) you devoured at camp, but ten times better. Yet, without the orange drink and OFF bug spray. To our delight, it doesn't fall apart...a big sticking point, in our opinion, with many sub-par burgers. Even better, medium-rare came out, medium-rare...thank you Burger Joint. Having been one of the minor detractors from our previous review's ranking ( see Five Napkin Burger), Burger Joint got it right. They're seasoned pros, grilling the burger to perfection. A quick tip: You fellas (and maybe even some ladies) might want to grab seconds since one cheeseburger probably won't fill you up. Just remember they don't accept credit cards.

Toppings: One of the weaker elements of this burger, the toppings are a bit average. That's what you should expect at Burger Joint, given the decor and burger style. Then again, that's not to say the place or the burger is average, but continuing with the camp cookout theme, the burger comes with those same campfire toppings. Sadly, it doesn't come with a hot co-ed counselor either...but we digress. Ordering "the works" gets you a few toppings we would instantaneously dismiss from our burger. Mustard, blah. Mayo, double-blah. Still, we dig the pickle, that crunchy dill type that adds some serious snap to your bite. As for the cheddar cheese, it's a solid sideshow to the beef. It melts like it should, draping over the sides of the meat but still keeping its composure. That counterbalances the "just OK" toppings since the cheddar allows the meat to remain the star. Exactly what we want and why we're here. Despite that, those formerly mentioned toppings bring the ranking down a notch...sigh.

Bun: Soft white roll, once again (a la Five Napkin). Slightly grilled, not charred, and done with perfect timing. The bun covered the burger, didn't fall apart through the entire eating experience, and wasn't overwhelming while letting the meat keep spotlight. Still, nothing to write home about (get it?).

Bedlam's Burger Joint Judgment

Meat (43):
Awesomely cooked to temperature, flavored with that purpose we had hoped for and good 'til the last bite. The star of this burger.

Toppings (18):
Average, but what we expected. Maybe some grilled onions could do the trick?

Bun (20): Just right. Not a star, but done well and chosen wisely. It says, screw those sesame buns.

81 out of 100