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