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 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…