Monday, June 27, 2011

Burger Bedlam Bites: 6/27/11

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.

  • Now that we're six months into 2011, Zagat Buzz has a list of 5 things they'd like to see happen in the second half of the year. Though, we couldn't disagree more with the need for more Chicago Deep Dish (you can keep that butter-filled pastry). Note the inclusion and subsequent letdown regarding In-N-Out in the last paragraph. Cold hearted. [Zagat Buzz]
  • Restaurant critic Alan Richman has a beef with the NYC food scene these days, calling it "predictable." Cheer up, a burger. At least that usually makes us happier. [Eater]
  • Yeezy (Kayne, people) dined in SoHo at our favorite spot, Lure Fishbar, donning gold chains the size of the Bash Burger. But he ate sushi. #BURGERFAIL. [Rap-Up]
  • Dutch scientists are playing in labs with stem cells, hoping to create test-tube burgers called "in vitro." Gag us. [Daily Mail UK]
  • Bloomberg restaurant critic Ryan Sutton has started a site dedicated to showing you the "bad restaurant deals" offered on social coupon sites like Groupon. Way to go against the grain, brotha. Some of those deals are flat out, well, bad. [The Bad Deal]

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Best Burger in NYC Search: The Smith

55 3rd Ave (between 10th St. & 11th St.)
(212) 420-9800
Burger: Burger Deluxe ($15)

Nestled in the confines of what’s indelibly known to be an NYU student haven, best burger in New York contender The Smith is arguably one of our favorite dining destinations. Bearing a speakeasy, old-world feel with cascading white tile, dark wood and Victorian black and white photos on the walls, the place has a vibe similar to that of Pastis or Schiller’s, two somewhat trendy Manhattan eateries owned by famed restauranteur Keith McNally. Though, The Smith owners Glenn Harris and Jeffrey Lefcourt (also of Jane in the West Village) certainly created an equally inviting space, one that’s continuously packed to the gills and bustling. There they serve profoundly nourishing cuisine, all of which is both affordable and plentiful. While it’s the weekend brunch menu that tends to attract scores of diners, the burger frequently garners devout foodie affection as a “best of” item.

Our Expectations: Burger Deluxe. Eight ounces of grilled sirloin on a hefty brioche bun, special sauce (a combo of mayo, ketchup and pickles), cheddar and bacon. A sublime sounding offering, one we typically enjoy from top to bottom with some of our favorite ingredients. Though, the sirloin blend deviates from standard blends we regularly see including chuck (from the shoulder of the cow) or brisket (lower chest/breast of the cow). Nevertheless, we’re always open to burger reinterpretation.

The Burger

Meat: While we always take our first bite with a clean judgment slate, we’d be hard-pressed to admit that sirloin didn’t exactly have us giddy with anticipation. Given our tendencies to favor a more inviting cut of beef, the sirloin used in this burger had a lot to overcome from the get-go. And, true to our pre-conceived notions, the meat wasn’t as tender as desired. Perhaps due to the tightly formed patty (loose is much better for taste purposes), the meat flavoring was slightly above average. Conversely, it was cooked nicely and accurately to a medium rare state with a pleasant char and ample moisture. Though not as texturally satisfying as we’d like, the eight ounce burger wasn’t as imposing as many patties of the same size can be.

Toppings: Special sauces are often hit or miss, but consider this a hit. Simple, yes – but sometimes that’s best. Pleasing with each bite, it made up for any shortcomings in this department by its topping brethren. The cheddar draped the patty amply but was devoid of the creamy and sharp contrasts we enjoy – it was more of a “goop” than a slice. Similarly, more consternation came in the form of the bacon. Seemingly old (brunch leftovers?) and crusty, you’ll never win us over with a “bacon bits” sort of flavor.

Bun: Loved the flavor, freshness and proportion, hated the texture. There’s no reason to have “jaw fatigue” by the time your meal is complete. Brioche buns are common in burger world, but the majority are soft, light and airy. The Smith’s was far too dense and tough to chew through.

Bedlam's The Smith Judgment

Meat (41): Not as loosely formed as needed and a questionable blend, but still had nice char and great temperature execution. Flavor was barely above average but not devastatingly salty as with many others we’ve encountered.

Toppings (18): Tasty special sauce, decent cheese but mediocre bacon flavor and texture.

Bun (20): Exceptional flavor and proportion but too tough of a bun to bite. Our jaws were forced to work overtime.

Ranking: 79 out of 100

Monday, June 20, 2011

Burger Bedlam Bites: 6/20/11

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.

  • Owner of our very first Burger Bedlam review, Five Napkin Burger opened a new location in Miami. Ahh, memories. [Miami Herald]
  • Lady Gaga's meat dress from the MTV Video Music Awards is headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Wonder if she used grass or grain fed Argentinian beef? But let's be honest, a real rocker would've eaten that dress post-show. [Huff Post]
  • This year's NYC Wine & Food Festival runs from September 29 to October 2 and began selling tickets last week...the Burger Bash is sold out already. Oops. [NYCWFF]
  • West Village hot spot Kin Shop and it's Chef, Harold Dieterle, added a burger to their lunch menu. It's a ground turkey patty with chili jam, yellow bean aioli, pickled red onions, crumbled fried taro root, on a Sriracha bun for $13. We're interested. [Eater NY]
  • Grub Street asked NYC's top ten beer seller's for ten of their favorite summer beers. Ninety-nine beers in total after they decided to take one down, like the song. We chuckled. Also, should we be worried that we've collectively tried about 25% of these already? [Grub Street]

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Burger Bedlam Bites: 6/13/11

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.

  • Word is Goldman Sachs has it's very own grill at the new FiDi Shake Shack. Damn you, corporate perks. [NY Mag]
  • In what appears to be a case of copycat, The New York Times get's all scientific on burgers with Daniel Boulud and some scientist. Hmm, reminds us of our Science Channel TV appearance with Richard Blais and his mastery of the sous vide burger. Terms floated include: Maillard, Liquid Nitrogen and crenellated. Mind. Blown. [NYT
  • Kanye West's 2007 deal with Fatburger get's dissolved. At least Pharrell is still gansta'. [NY Post/Page Six]
  • Ashton Kutcher wore a straw hat to our #1 ranked burger spot, Lure Fishbar. Hey, don't go all Sheen crazy on us already, dude. [NY Post/Page Six]
  • The Daily News lists the best fries in the city. We don't rank 'em, but we agree with Pomme Frites. Get the Sweet Mango Chutney Mayo, it's dreamy. [NY Daily News]

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Best Burger in NYC Search: Back Forty

190 Avenue B (at E. 12th St.)
(212) 388-1990
Burger: The Grass Fed Burger ($11)

On a non-descript block of The East Village sits Back Forty, an atypical burger joint sitting unassumingly amongst a breeding ground for contenders in our best burger in NYC search. Offering up “high quality food at reasonable prices within a casual atmosphere,” Owner and Chef Peter Hoffman has honed a menu that screams with simplicity but has a knack for ingenuity. From oysters to pork, rosemary to ramps, the ingredients in each dish provide both a sense of freshness and familiarity. Yet, despite the collection of mouth-watering items available, many come from far and wide to try a single item and what’s often lauded as the best burger in New York, period.

Our Expectations: The Grass Fed Burger. As the menu states, a grass-fed blend topped with heritage bacon, farmhouse cheddar, served with homemade spicy ketchup and sliced pickles all on a hefty brioche bun. Grass-fed can often lack the same “wow” factor in flavor profile compared to grain-fed beef, but we’ve heard too much acclaim for the burger to be worried.

The Burger

Meat: Contrary to our initial worries, the patty tasted freshly ground and was loaded with beefy flavor. Chef Hoffman obviously paid attention in burger class as experts know a loosely formed patty, such as this one, is best for optimal flavor and texture, packing taste in all the nooks and crannies. Though, while the un-taut patty fulfilled our palates, the cooking execution needed a tweak as our medium rare, while mostly juicy, was a touch dry. Regardless, the burger redeemed itself with a nice char that crammed in the supreme flavor we mentioned.

Toppings: Contradictory results in this category. Working for the toppings was the nicely sharp and pungent farmhouse cheddar, draped delectably across the entire patty. Working against the toppings were the puny strips of bacon which surprisingly still managed to add too much salt to the equation. Lastly, the house made "spicy" ketchup wasn't all that spicy although it was quite the deviant from any we had tasted and not overwhelmingly sugary like Heinz tends to be. Points for originality there.

Bun: Brioche won’t do if the stuff ain’t fresh, but this certainly was. A pleasantly soft bun with rich, nutty flavor, we appreciated the good measure on beef to bun ratio. Though, a clear flaw came in the form of consistency as the bun deteriorated somewhat as the juices began to flow. Being left with half a bottom bun three quarters of the way through eating is no fun.

Bedlam's Back Forty Judgment

Meat (46): Immense flavor and a well-formed composition with solid char, we loved the patty.

Toppings (20): Too much salt from a paltry piece or two of bacon but excellent, decadent taste from the plentiful helping of cheddar and admirable unique notes from the ketchup.

Bun (23): Freshly baked and full of rich flavor with one small flaw. A bun should withstand the anticipated burger juice.

Ranking: 89 out of 100

Monday, June 6, 2011

Burger Bedlam Bites: 6/6/11

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 King axed their creepy icon, The King and plans healthier options and a revamped image. Commence music from the world's smallest violin. [Miami Herald]
  • Similarly, Esquire has some ideas for Burger King with the ladies in mind. [Esquire]
  • Shake Shack seems to be popping up everywhere these days, and their newest location hits FiDi in Battery Park City. Eater NY gives you a tour. [Eater NY]
  • The Wall Street journal rounds up five flavorful (questionable) burgers to try cooking at home with popular recipes from some well-known chefs around the nation. That Schlow Burger from Boston sounds good. But the Celtics, Pats and Red Sox still suck. [WSJ]
  • First Lady Michelle Obama dumped the food pyramid for a plate, but our favorite Twitterer Ruth Bourdain devised a better one. Much better. [Ruth Bourdain]

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