Monday, May 30, 2011

Burger Bedlam Bites: 5/30/11

Our curated list of culinary news from the prior week. Think we missed a must-read or there's something you gotta share? Add a comment below or drop us a line at contact [at] bestburgernyc [dot] com.

  • Burger maven George Motz (author of Hamburger America) put together an excellent free Burger App to help locate the best in your vicinity (his rankings, not ours!). [iTunes]
  • Something for the ladies. You like to get your nails done? Yeah. You like your burgers? Yeah. Well maybe you'll like this new Tumblr blog. Tell 'em we sent you. We might even start up our own, Burgers and Beards. [Burgers & Nails]
  • Eater arranged the best YouTube barbecue/grilling FAILS. Warning, #1 is not for those with weak stomachs. [Eater]
  • Hardee's is now serving turkey burgers. Don't do it. [AHT]
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg vows to only eat what he kills. Good luck with that one, dude. Guess you won't be trying any lamb burgers? Or bison? Or...well you get the point. [CNN]

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Burger Bedlam Bites: 5/22/11

We're serving up a new weekly segment to keep you acquainted with the news and stories we deem worthy from the prior week. A small, curated list. Think we missed a must-read? Drop us a line at contact [at] bestburgernyc [dot] com.

  • Burger Bedlam favorite Burger & Barrel has new lunch and dinner menus while also launching a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. with $5 wine and beer on tap. Aside from the always amazing burgers, try the fried chicken, short rib tacos and chicken lollipops. Trust us. 
  • An epic column from A Hamburger Today on their bi-coastal taste-test between In-N-Out, Shake Shack and Five Guys. We approve of the outcome. [AHT]
  • Gilt Groupe has launched it's latest site, Gilt Taste with former Gourmet Editor-In-Chief Ruth Reichl at the helm. [NY Mag Grub Street]
  • If you're not following @ruthbourdain on Twitter, you're missing one of the most hilarious tweet profiles around. Case in point, the still anonymous creator just won the James Beard Foundation award for humor writing. With that, he/she took a satirical play on Gilt Taste last week called...Guilt Taste. [Ruth Bourdain Tumblr]
  • McDonald's is feeling the pressure to fire Ronald McDonald. As long as they don't axe the Hamburglar, we're good. [WSJ]

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Best Burger in NYC Search: P.J. Clarke's

915 Third Avenue (cross of 55th St.)
(212) 317-1616
Burger: "The Cadillac" ($13.25)

When it comes to New York dining, there are plenty of staples and classic establishments that one might consider “required eating” for an out-of-town guest who’s never set foot in the big city. You’ve got your steakhouses (Peter Luger, The Palm), delis (Katz’s, Carnegie), pizzerias (Grimaldi’s, Lombardi’s), bagel shops (Ess-A-Bagel, H&H) and dessert destinations (Junior’s, Magnolia). Certainly not an all encompassing list, the preceding locales are just a few of the notorious names that echo across the country. Each has their reason for being lauded, although in our minds they might not be the best of breed in their specific category. Likewise, there are a few burger joints that resonate with tourists – namely, Corner Bistro and P.J. Clarke’s. Both have long-standing histories in the city, dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century, respectively. Of course, we may have neglected the two to this point in our search, but we’ve finally arrived at our day of reckoning for P.J. Clarke’s. Opened in 1884 and soon after purchased by Irish immigrant Patrick J. Clarke, the bar/pub has donned the title of best burger in NYC from celebrities and critics alike. As with any review, we come from a position of neutrality and recently made our way to 55th and 3rd like those household names before us.

Our Expectations: "The Cadillac" Smoked Country Bacon & American Cheese. About a 5-6 ounce patty, served on a Pandoro Bakery bun. “The Cadillac” is likely an ode to the love of P.J. Clarke’s shown by Nat King Cole, who according to history, proclaimed the bacon cheeseburger to be “The Cadillac of Burgers!” As our brother from AHT, Nick Solares pointed out in his review, the Red Angus Beef is sourced from Meyer Ranch and the burger offering is quite different than what it used to be. In 2010 the restaurant hired Larry Forgione, the “Godfather of American cuisine” to give the menu a controversial tweak. Nick wasn’t a fan of the revamping.

The Burger

Meat: The first bite revealed plenty as the meat lacked flavor and seasoning, providing little in the way of savory satisfaction. Somewhat grainy or gritty, the freshness wasn’t really there. Moreover, the inside juices, or lack thereof, left something to be desired. Typically, we find a pool of juice on our plate as we eat – during this experience, not so. Though, in contrast, the temperature composition was done well, with a nicely executed medium rare serving and an outer edge or salty crust noticeable, albeit not supplying the crunch or char we are accustomed to.

Toppings: Excellent smoky flavor in the bacon and yummy gooeyness from the American cheese helped give “The Cadillac” memorable qualities. With a healthy portion of bacon and delectably draped cheese, we were happy to have both components accompany the underwhelming patty.

Bun: By far the worst element of the burger, the mediocre bun was painfully sopping wet from the moment we picked it up. Likely a direct correlation to uneven cutting, the bottom half felt like a wet napkin in our hands, giving us fits as we ate. The condensation from heat and not the burger juice seemed to take a toll on the bun before it even got out of the kitchen. The flavor was also below average, lacking sweetness and baring a odd staleness. The only redeeming quality was its size as it covered the patty convincingly – still, not an earth-shattering achievement.

Bedlam's P.J. Clarke’s Judgment

Meat (38): Absent of overall flavor or seasoning with a low amount of juiciness, the patty was unfulfilling. The temperature execution was its saving grace.

Toppings (22): Both components provided the only standout qualities of the burger, with a rich smokiness from the bacon and salty scrumptiousness from the cheese.

Bun (14): Soggy and stale, the bun needs a major overhaul. Texture and taste were way off.

Ranking: 74 out of 100