Sunday, January 29, 2012

Best Burger in NYC Search: The Dutch

The Dutch
The Dutch 
131 Sullivan St.
(212) 677-6200 
Burger: $17

Sam Sifton’s restaurant of the year. Adam Platt’s best new restaurant of 2011.’s restaurant of the year. Just a few of the accolades showered upon Andrew Carmellini’s All-American Soho eatery this past year. Along with hype comes demand, forcing hip New Yorkers to fight over reservations akin to Patrick Bateman’s obsessive tendencies in American Psycho – “A table at The Dutch? Saturday night? 8:30? No problem.” Diverging from his Italian cooking roots at A Voce and Locanda Verde, Mr. Carmellini’s collection of Michelin and James Beard awards lend credence to the notion that the man can do no wrong. And while patrons flock for the tiny fried oyster sandwich, chicken (smoked or fried) and scores of fresh pies made daily, the exuberant menu also includes a prolific patty known to many as one of the best burgers in NYC.

 Our Expectations

Burger. Cheddar. Orwasher’s Bun. Secret Sauce. Simple enough. More details include a 7 ounce patty from New York’s leading meat man, Pat LaFrieda, and a bun care of New York’s oldest artisan bakery – Orwasher's – all served only at brunch, lunch and late-night.

The Dutch Menu

The Burger

Meat: Extreme juiciness from a pleasantly plump patty, we’re never disappointed by a proprietary blend from Pat LaFrieda’s team. With texture screaming freshness and an exceedingly consistent char around every edge, it was a joy to consume. That said, points off for a slightly overdone medium rare…less rare and much more medium.

The Dutch Burger

Toppings: Placement was the name of the game. Secret sauce, slathered on the bottom half of the bun, was sublimely tangy while also yielding a touch of smokiness. Onions on top drove home the sweet factor with just enough firmness to not hinder our chewing. Conversely, the cheddar, also on top, wasn’t much of a standout while the odd bottom placement of the typical tomato had us scratching our collective heads.

The Dutch Burger

Bun: Orwasher's is known for their broad spectrum of artisanal breads, and flavor-wise, they delivered. Yet, we can’t place blame on them for what appeared to be a somewhat dry bun that lacked the power to withstand the immense juices of the patty. Additionally, as we mentioned in the toppings breakdown, the tomato and secret sauce are on the bottom half of the bun. There lies the problem. Add in sauce, tomato and resulting juices and the bottom half crumbles quickly. Result – top-heavy bun and soggy hand.

Bedlam’s The Dutch Judgment

Meat (48): Well-balanced and nearly unblemished. Temperature needed a tweak, but it’s hard to find many flaws in this patty.

Toppings (21): Questionable order of placement. Superior special sauce and excellent delivery of the onions. Underwhelming tomato and cheese.

Bun (19): Perfect flavor but dry. Solid ratio of bun to beef but not built strong enough to withstand the questionable toppings placement.

Ranking 88 out of 100

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Best Burger in NYC Search: Beauty & Essex

146 Essex St. 
(212) 614-0146 
Burger: Beauty & Essex Burger ($17)

The Lower East Side – don't be fooled, this ain't your grandparent’s LES. Gone are the days of the full-blown working class community, replaced by trendy shops, indie rock clubs and upscale fine dining establishments. Gentrified and glamorized, the neighborhood has become a destination for what’s cool in cuisine and clubbing. With help from developers and real estate agents, the former ‘hood encompassed what’s now known as the East Village and a post-2005 split provided Generation Y with its current understanding of the Lower East Side. Historically a lower-class worker and immigrant neighborhood, the LES is now home to a hip restaurant row on Clinton Street and scores of food trucks lined up near the relatively fresh Hester Street Fair. Predictably, it has also become a common area to post up a best burger in NYC contender – bringing us such gems as Beauty & Essex. Gaudy signage, a faux pawn shop storefront and an epically detailed glitzy 10,000 square foot interior make up what’s home to one of our favorite entries from the 2011 Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash care of Chef Chris Santos. Drawing praise from far and wide, we visited recently for a bit of sustenance and subterfuge.

Our Expectations: An eight ounce patty of lamb and brisket topped with spicy roasted garlic aioli, goat’s milk feta cheese, lettuce, onions and a beefsteak vine ripened tomato all on a ciabatta bun. The same burger we encountered in sample size at the 2011 Burger Bash, this time in full form, still sounds delightful.

The Burger

Meat: Cooking a larger patty comes with risks - that of overcooking the outside and undercooking the inside. Frankly, getting it right is an art form. Our burgers came out just a tad overdone to our always medium rare request. That said, it was the only misstep. Still juicy and slightly salted, bearing a unique balance of fresh texture and beautiful crusty char, bite after bite was consistently savory – Umami at its finest.

Toppings: Feta was a fine touch, not too powerful but packing a combination of both tangy and salt while also providing a creamy texture. Garlic roasted aioli yielded another dash of tang and it’s placement on the top bun helped spread an even distribution per bite. Onions were sweet and slightly crunchy, another texture boost. Though, failure came in the form of the poorly placed lettuce. With juices flowing, eaters should expect the bottom half of the bun to catch the remains. Yet, lettuce acted as a barrier to entry and said juices ended up on our hands or sadly, our plates.

Bun: Ciabatta isn’t a terrible choice, but it won't be mistaken for our favorite. The wheat flour based bun is a popular option with rather large and gourmet burgers such as Chef Santos’. While a bit dry, the taste is spot on, but the ratio of bun to patty is off. The bottom half needs to be cut thicker in order to handle the remnant juices, much like it was at our recent review of The Breslin. At Beauty & Essex we were left with a top heavy bun halfway through eating our entrĂ©e.

Bedlam’s Beauty & Essex Judgment

Meat (47): Slightly overcooked, so a few points off there, but supreme Umami - tender, fresh, scrumptious and bearing a delicate char.

Toppings (22): Finely tuned feta provided a creaminess to savor while combining with the aioli to give a kick of tang. The lettuce, while not normally a hindrance and more of an afterthought on most burgers, was the detractor. 

Bun (19): Somewhat dry and an uneven cut provided the disappointment along with a questionable choice for maximum juice retention. Nice taste, just too topsy turvy.

Ranking: 88 out of 100