232 53rd St. (between 2nd and 3rd Ave.)
Burger: Bibimbap Burger ($13)
UPDATE: *Social Eatz shuttered in March of 2013.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” We don’t mean to get all Shakespearean on you, but it’s a fitting opening to portray the notoriety which accompanies an Eater.com “Best Burger in America” title. Chef Angelo Sosa, a two-time Top-Chef contestant and Jean-George protégé can point to his crowning achievement in burgerdom as a 2011 victory of Eater’s nationally held poll seeking the ultimate burger in all the land. Sosa and his Midtown spot, Social Eatz, sport a few burgers on the menu, from Traditional to Bulgogi with the famous Bibimbap in the middle. An “Asian-American” menu doesn’t exactly scream “find great burgers here!” but we can’t fight the masses nor resist the urge to weigh in on the Bibimbap Burger’s place in burger lore. Poetic, no?
Our Expectations: Bibimbap Burger. Proprietary all-natural beef, slow cooked egg, Korean pickles, and a bit of mayo-based sauce on a buttered brioche bun. The patty is, as our sources tell us, coated in Sriracha and griddled. Conventional it’s not, delicious it sounds.
Meat: Structurally, the patty shined. Loosely formed on the inside and well-seared on the outside, juices flowed with each bite. That said, our medium rare temperature was noticeably overshot as the center was more pink than red and more firm than soft. Still, flavor profile exceeded our expectations as the tang of Sriracha was strong and savory. Combining with the aforementioned sear to deliver the definition of umami, we can easily endorse a Sriracha-cooked burger.
Toppings: We’re all for new, different, exciting and we love us some pickled veggies at our favorite Korean haunts, yet those that come with the burger reminded us more of salad than scrumptious. They’re somewhat drowned in sesame-oil and the helping is too heavy-handed. Additionally, the dose of mayo-based sauce is spread a little too thin to make a mark, yet its flavorful when found. Conversely, the slow-cooked egg is superb. Delicately garnished on top of the patty, the runny yolk is heavenly and the true champion of the toppings.
Bun: Buttery brioche is a typical choice for a larger patty, and for good reason. As demonstrated by the Bibimbap Burger, a 7-8 ounce patty needs support from a sturdy bun. We appreciate the accounting for size by Chef Sosa, as it’s far too often underestimated in our adventures in burger eating. One must prepare for a combination of uneven bites, sogginess created by accompanying juices, and the likely overwhelming heft of the patty. Chef Sosa’s brioche delivered in all areas of need in that regard while also contributing a buttery flavor bomb. Still, we were disappointed by an overly dry composition with a lack of soft and airy qualities. Flaking as we ate, freshness was questionable.
Bedlam’s Social Eatz Judgment
Meat (44): Solid structure and ideal sear but mostly overcooked. Though the Sriracha coated and griddled patty was quite flavorful nevertheless.
Toppings (20): Pickled veggies could’ve been executed better with a smaller portion and a little more subtlety using the sesame oil. Conversely, that egg, pure joy.
Bun (17): Points for size, composition, and buttered goodness but not enough to overcome a fairly porous, dry bun.
Ranking: 81 out of 100