Sunday, April 16, 2006

Burger Binge in NYC: The cheap, the hidden and the disappointing

Our visit to the land of McDonalds, Burger King, Carl’s Junior and White Castle would not have been complete without biting into a few juicy burgers. I will first confess that I’m not a big fan of burgers. I grew up associating burgers with Mc Donald’s and let’s admit it: we don’t really know what is in that stuff. This trip has made me slightly more open to the thought of burgers and maybe I even venture out to Carl’s Junior some time this year. What makes a good burger? "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun?" I don’t think McDonald’s was too far in identifying the basic elements of the burger—bread, patties, cheese, sauce and its condiment. As for me, the two most important elements are the beef patty and the bread and the others are up to interpretation. Our burger binge in NYC covered a fast food joint, a hole-in-the-wall burger diner and an expensive famed burger.

The Cheap: White Castle, Cheeseburger, Price: Less than $1 per burger

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Why did Harold and Kumar go to White Castle? Sometimes nothing beats cheap and good. This historical burger joint, established in 1921, have been serving small-sized burgers with proportional price-tags. The bun was soft and the beef patty was surprisingly juicy with a pickle and ketchup and mustard added to taste. If I remember correctly, the smallest meal set starts with 4 burgers and if you are up to it, you can purchase a crave case of 30 burgers. The only thing to watch out for is that they are made fresh, when soggy, they can be disappointing. The other thing that we tasted that I would recommend having while you are at White Castle is their deep-fried clam strips.

The Hidden: The Burger Joint, Cheeseburger with the works, Price: Less than $5

Tucked away behind a grand velvet curtain in the posh Le Parken Meridien Hotel hides this most unexpected hole-in-the-wall burger joint. Named the Burger Joint, identified by its neon burger signage, this place is straightforward about what it serves, burgers, cheeseburgers, brownies, milk shakes, beers and fries. Know what you want before you get to the counter, with ketchup and mayonnaise or without pickles or either everything. Present your burger request to the cashier when you get there if not be prepared to take a hike to the back of the queue. This small burger joint packs a steady after work dine-in and take-away crowd and the burger states why. The best part of the burger joint is that everything is made to order. The hot steamy bun soft without a hint of staleness and the patties are substantial, meaty and juicy, nothing beats freshness. Enjoy with a house milkshake or plastic cup beers.

The Disappointing: DB Bistro Moderne, The Original db Burger, Price: $29

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For a whopping $29, The Original db Burger consist of a Sirloin Burger filled with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffles, served on a Parmesan bun & with pommes frites. Sounds like the mother of all luxury burgers, no? Well, it reads like a song but in reality it all bark and no bite. The tall burger’s thick braised short ribs patty was bordering on being dry and other than the rich tasting short ribs, you would be lucky if you could taste a hint of foie gras or black truffles. I only found the foie gras after about 4 bites and that was my last taste of it. Other than the burger, the rest of the food (we had the lobster bisque, frog's legs and stuffed pig’s trotters) was average and expensive, and the service was terrible. Save your money, this place is worth a miss.

The Burger Joint
118 W 57th St (between 6th and 7th)
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (1) 212-245-5000

DB Bistro Moderne
55 W 44th St (between 5th and 6th)
New York, NY 10036
Tel: (1) 212-391-2400

White Castle
525 8th Ave
New York, NY, 10018
Website: for other locations

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh dear, that sounds like a bad experience with an expensive burger... i had the d.b. burger last year and it was (not worth 29, of course) but rather divine, maybe because it wasn't overcooked. oh well, it's hit and miss with these things, and in ny, there's always something else wonderful to eat! :)

6:13 AM  
Blogger shaz said...

wow.. yummy. im sure the burgers always taste better where they are discovered.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Vivilicious said...

Hi there, I grew up in the States and just love White Castle, my one fast food vice... especially the double cheeseburgers, could eat a whole bag probably!

11:56 AM  
Blogger joone! said...

vanessa: oh yes, in NYC the choices are limitless. Going back to the DB burger the biggest disappointing food moment for me in nyc. :(

shaz: hellos! haha, yes! it was a good thing we only discovered the burger joint on the last day because our hotel was so closeby we might have been there every other night and completely burger-ed out!

vivilicious: oh i didn't try the double cheeseburgers, but those tiny things were so tasty but i think i could only eat about 3 and then i'll start feeling really ill by the 4th. What really stuck me was how soft those burger buns were!

11:14 PM  

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