Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Best Burger in NYC Search: The Breslin Bar & Dining Room

16 W. 29th St. (Between Broadway & 5th Ave.) 
(212) 679-1939 
Burger: The Chargrilled Lamb Burger ($17) 

Consider the scene: A dimly lit British pub with rustic charm and medieval chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. Scenesters, foodies and gastrotourists sprinkled about with more filing in from an adjacent and equally trendy lobby bar. Indie rock and hip-hop beats spinning, bouncing off the walls and echoing through the dining room. All the while, diners attempt to focus on a mouth-watering menu packed with an epic array of indulgences. Can you picture it? Because that, in a nutshell, is The Breslin - April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s boisterous barroom attached to the uber-hip Ace Hotel. Since it’s illustrious opening in late 2009, crowds have flocked to the gastro-pub, obsessed with it’s meats, cheeses, puddings and, importantly, a best burger in nyc candidate. We’ve had the pleasure of devouring one of Bloomfield’s creations previously at her West Village joint, The Spotted Pig. Highly ranked on our list, and engrained in our minds and pasted on our palates forever, would we be wrong to expect a commensurate burger at The Breslin?

Our Expectations: The Chargrilled Lamb Burger. An eight ounce lamb patty, topped with feta cheese, homemade cumin-infused mayo and placed on a ciabatta roll. Our first true foray into another meat blend outside of beef (minus Resto’s pork and beef blend), Bloomfield’s offering is not necessarily for the conservative, casual eater. Lamb can be gamey at times, though we visited The Breslin with open minds and clear palates.

The Burger 

Meat: Lamb, as a burger patty, is a different animal altogether…pun intended. While it can often be gamey, it does provide a silky texture and enough fat to render it tasty. Such is the case with The Breslin’s burger. While formidable in size at a heavy eight ounces, the patty is loosely packed, which allows for optimum flavor enhancement in all it’s nooks and crannies. With great balance in seasoning and cooking temperature, the lamb provided rich flavor through and through. A delicate crust made our first bite delectable yet, unfortunately, quite salty. Nevertheless, the salt was easy to overcome care of the supreme texture and tenderness and wasn’t extremely overbearing.

As with Chef Bloomfield’s Spotted Pig offering which uses Roquefort, this came with a pungent cheese in the form of feta. While not too cumbersome, the creaminess made way for the lamb to shine, albeit adding a bit more salt to the equation. In similar fashion to the aforementioned Pig’s burger, the feta required some spreading to even out each bite but still provided an excellent contrast to the lamb and in effect, created a pleasant synergy. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the cumin-infused mayo. Innovative? Yes. Delicious? Not so much. We avoided the mayo after a few bites, choosing to enjoy the burger without it.

Bun: Ciabatta is always a pleasant option, proving to be soft, flavorful and an admirable component to the burger’s overall composition. Sweet and fluffy, it was a structural ally to all eight ounces of lamb as ratio-wise it played an effortless role. Still, as with other similarly scaled patties, chewing fatigue was an issue. Finishing the grand patty is a feat in itself and having to chow down on equal parts of bun can be challenging.

Bedlam’s The Breslin Bar & Dining Room Judgment 

Meat (47): Tender, silky and rich, lamb proved to be a spectacular choice for our – ahem – refined palates. Though, a few points off for heavy-handed saltiness and a cumbersome size.

Toppings (20): Creamy and smooth but slightly too salty, the feta was a welcome addition for the most part. The same cannot be said for the cumin-infused mayo, which lacked appeal.

Bun (21): A well-tailored suitor for such a substantial patty, deemed worthy via a fitting burger-to-bun ratio. Tasty and soft, but still a challenge to devour without feeling like a chore.

Ranking: 88 out of 100