Tag Archives: cheeseburger

Balthazar

In all my years in NYC, I never tried Balthazar until last night. I had heard all the great stories: awesome steaks, awesome fries, awesome bread. Only one of those is true, but there are other things worth noting.

My wife and I stopped in for a quick meal at the bar. We started with some nice stiff cocktails, and a pair of apps: escargots and steak tartare. BIG FRENCH.

The escargots were awesome. We crushed them quickly. The tartare was average to good, but the slices of toasted bread were awesome. In fact, the Balthazar bread is so good that other restaurants use Balthazar bread for their bread service.

For our mains, we had the burger and the steak frites.

The burger was really good. Nice crust, great flavor, ample cheese coverage.

The steak, however…

… was Applebees level trash. It was cooked nicely, but the quality was average at best.

I can make anything look good, but this was a 5/10 or 6/10 at best. At $42 this felt like a rip off, and I think it was either flank or flatiron. Not strip as I was kind of expecting. The fries were very good, but not quite at awesome level. Go across town to Raoul’s if a killer burger and steak frites is what you’re after. Here, I would stick to the bread, the burger, and the snails. And yes, the fries are still worth trying if you haven’t already.

BALTHAZAR
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

Cochon Butcher

I stopped by this NOLA joint last time I was down in the Big Easy, but I didn’t try anything. I was too full from eating at Cochon, their sister restaurant, next door. This spot is the more casual, bar-style deli. They offer up some meaty hot and cold sandwiches. On rec from a friend, I tried the muffuletta, which he said was better than Central Grocery. I disagree. There was a noticeable lack of meat, and the olive salad and giardiniera is much better at Central Grocery. Pass on this.

I was also disappointed by the porchetta cheesesteak sandwich. This came served in a strange hybrid between a pita and an English muffin. It also lacked meat.

The saving grace at this joint, and a possible best bite of 2020, was the Pig Mac burger.

This was killer, and I highly recommend this if you make the trip over here.

COCHON BUTCHER
930 Tchoupitoulas St b
New Orleans, LA 70130

Cheeseburger Tacos

These are absolutely incredible, and super easy to make. Nothing fancy here, just some truly soul-satisfying food.

SHIT THAT YOU NEED

  • Pan (I prefer cast iron)
  • Spatula
  • Butter or Ghee
  • Ground Beef (I used 45-day dry-aged spinals dorsi)
  • Minced or Sliced Onion (I used red, but you can use other shit)
  • Minced or Sliced Pickle
  • Minced or Sliced Tomato
  • Sliced American Cheese
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • Shredded Iceburg Lettuce (If you like fancy shit, then fine)
  • Taco Shells (I used flaccid corn, but you can use rock-hard)

HOW THE FUCK TO MAKE THEM

  1. Heat up your pan and toss in a little bit of butter or ghee. Once that’s liquefied, throw in your beef and your onions.
  2. Chop and mix them together with the spatula to get a uniform distribution of onions into the ground beef.
  3. Spread the meat and onions across the entire surface of the pan.
  4. WAIT. Allow a crisp to form on the bottom of the meat and onion mixture.
  5. Flip the mixture over to get a crisp on the other side.
  6. Cover the the meat and onions with slices of American cheese.
  7. Cover the pan with a lid, allowing the cheese to become melted.
  8. Scoop some of this “cheeseburger” mix into your taco shells.
  9. Add lettuce, tomato, pickle and thousand island dressing.
  10. EAT, SHIT, REPEAT.

Gotham Burger Social Club

My friends at Gotham Burger Social Club have really started ramping up their presence at food festivals and charity events, offering up their delicious creations for generous revelers and hungry festival goers. If you ever get a chance to try one of their burgers, you need to do it!

They’re deceivingly simple and delicious. Lots of crispy-crusted texture from the smash on the flat top, great creamy melted cheese, perfect ratios of seasoning and toppings, and overall high quality ingredients and meat – whether it’s a Pat LaFrieda dry-aged blend, a Schweid & Son’s combo of chuck, short rib and brisket, or high end Kow domestic wagyu/angus cross.

The first time I ate one, I had the “Cafe Tappi” burger, by George “Tappi” of Booze and Burgers. It’s a double smash with dry aged beef, melted American cheese, caramelized onions and pickles on a toasted potato bun.

This has evolved a bit, sometimes showing itself as a single smash with caramelized onions, pickles, American and a special sauce.

But at most of the events where they pop up, they’re doing a delicious Oklahoma style smash, where thinly shaved onions get smushed into the burger patty and steam-cooked as the burger crisps up on the griddle. They’re topped with melted American, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Check out these videos:

They’re a delicious ode, homage and tribute to the great American roadside burgers of the past. Keep an eye out for these guys at events around NYC and even beyond. I’m hoping for a brick and mortar shop sometime in the future, since these are addictive, every day kinda burgers.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to book them for a party or an event, reach out to Mike Puma at Gotham Burger Social Club on Instagram or at GothamBurgerSocialClub@gmail.com and tell him Johnny Prime sent you.

Red Hook Tavern

Red Hook Tavern is the recently opened endeavor of famed BBQ pit master Billy Durney, of Hometown BBQ. After mastering regional BBQ, he decided to take on the iconic old school NYC tavern style joint – typically featuring dimly lit wood grain interiors, a great selection of beer, wine and cocktails, a champion burger and a beefy chop or two. Think Minetta Tavern, Chumley’s or even McSorley’s. The outside even kinda pays tribute to Minetta Tavern. Similar font, coloring and shades drawn:

So did Durney achieve that iconic goal? In short, yes. There are some BIG hits here, but there are also some misses as well. Let me get into it so you know what to get and what to avoid.

We shared four starters among four people. We ordered the corn and nduja salad with radicchio cups, the wedge salad with bacon, the chicken liver pate, and the charcuterie board.

The corn and nduja was good, but it wasn’t as spicy as I had expected. In addition, the radicchio cups added a little too much bitterness into the dish. Maybe swapping out for some Bibb would be better.

The big hit for me among the starters was the wedge salad. It comes with a nicely cooked slab of Nueske’s bacon, and a surprisingly fresh pop of dill throughout. This is definitely big enough to share, so get this and share with another.

The charcuterie board was delicious, featuring lomo (my favorite – dry cured pork loin), salami and venison salami, along with a nice fresh slaw to cut the fat. I just wish there was more of everything.

The chicken liver pate was smooth, creamy and delicious. I could have easily crushed this by myself, which is what I recommend that you do. The only issue with that was that the toast was very dry and brittle. That bread needs an upgrade.

We shared four different entrees. We did the pan roasted half chicken, the 45-day dry aged strip steak, the grilled head-on spot prawns and, of course, the burger (we did two of those).

The prawns were overcooked, unfortunately, and that delicious chili, lemon and garlic sauce didn’t really get into the flesh, rendering them kind of bland unless you really dragged them through the sauce. The heads were delicious though. They come three to an order, but the waiter Ryan was awesome and asked if we wanted four pieces so that we could all get one. That’s the kind of service people will remember. Bravo, Ryan.

The Pat LaFrieda steak was very tender, nicely cooked, and had a great crust on it.

The addition of that finishing salt was essential, because it was otherwise just kind of bland in flavor. It didn’t have much punch or character to it, and certainly not much dry-aged flavor. 7/10.

One good thing about the steak is that for $49 it also comes with creamed spinach. I really liked this spinach. Finely chopped, not too creamy.

The chicken was better than both of the above entree items. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, which was a nice touch, for just $28. The meat was juicy and tender, and the skin was crisp and well-seasoned. Get this!

But the star of the meal was this incredible burger.

Look at how perfectly cooked it is inside:

It comes with three perfectly crisped and seasoned potato wedges, and a half-sour pickle spear.

If you’re not into onions, you can remove yours from the bottom (the burger comes out sitting on top of an onion core slice). I generally don’t love raw onion on my burger, but this onion is somewhat steamed and softened, that way you don’t get that insane vaporous bite that destroys your mouth for two days. It also catches any juices that come out of the burger, making it a perfect flavor sponge that protects the bottom bun from sogging up.

It may look simple and pedestrian, but the bun is brought in fresh from a special bakery; the patty is a great mix of lean and fatty beef cuts that sport a really nice dry-aged flavor; the cheese is perfectly melted down the sides of the burger to create a lovely drape of full coverage – you never want for that melty American goodness; and the maillard sear on the outside even has a nice crunch to it for some texture. What a masterpiece. This might be a new favorite, especially at $22. While I generally prefer fries, the wedges were definitely good. I kinda wanted a couple more though.

The prices here aren’t too bad either.

I highly recommend this place. It’s tough to get a reservation, but if you get there early (or late, for that matter) you can probably score a seat at the bar pretty quickly.

RED HOOK TAVERN
329 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Hudson Yards Grill

This week I tried out Hudson Yards Grill in my endeavor to eat at all the new joints in the mall over there. Here’s how it went down:

Fried Oysters

These were great. Super crispy outside, like you’d find on good fried chicken. Tender, perfectly cooked inside. Almost like they were just steamed open. Get them.

Burger

Great dry aged flavor without being overly aggressive. I ordered medium rare but it came out somewhere between medium and medium well. I didn’t mind much, since it tasted so good. But that should be noted. Great fries too.

Strip Steak: 7/10

I almost gave it an 8. But not quite. It had good flavor and was seasoned nicely,but the grilling process left it in dire need of a crust. Also it was just not a very impressive cut to begin with. I was hoping for something thicker and with a bone. The potato that came with it was medium rare – meaning it still needed to be cooked more.

Rib Eye: 6/10

This just didn’t have the character or flavor that the strip had. It was a little bland despite being seasoned well. Same lack of crust issue as the strip. It felt like this could’ve been an Applebees steak to be honest. In addition, it was accompanies by eight pathetic string beans, a nice tube of bone marrow and a horseradish cream sauce that would be better suited for a roasted prime rib as opposed to a grilled rib eye.

Coconut Cake

Fail. This was dry, heavy, and overly sweet. I had high hopes for this but it was a let down.

Drinks

Great white mezcal negroni, strawberry gin fizz and lavender margarita.

Summary

I’d definitely do drinks here again, along with a burger at the bar. Skip the mains and focus on the apps if you’re sitting for a bigger meal though. The steakhouse prices for the cuts of beef here just aren’t worth it.

HUDSON YARDS GRILL
Hudson Yards
4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Causwell’s

Before heading to San Francisco my friends and I poked around and did some research on where to get a good burger. One place that kept popping up was Causwell’s.

Our research proved correct: this places serves a great burger!

Their Americana burger is a nice Big Mac style double smash that really satisfies. The fries are great too.

We also tried their Loco Moco burger, a nice tribute to the Hawaiian ground beef, rice, onion, cheese and gravy plate.

This was really great, and it embodied all those flavors that you expect from the Hawaiian classic. I just wish it came with a cup of gravy for dipping with each bite. We had fried onions with this, which were really nice and crisp. Shredded style.

I highly recommend this if you find yourself in that beautiful disaster of a city known as San Francisco.

CAUSWELL’S
2346 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

Black Emperor

Chef Jae Lee recently took over the kitchen at Black Emperor, and MAN is the food good. My wife and I tried everything on the menu, so buckle up and read on.

As you can see, the menu is a cross between American, Korean and Japanese food. The bar even serves up a nice Toki Highball.

The yuzu guac and rice cracker comes with a dollop of delicious home made chili oil. Really nice and refreshing.

The numbing cucumber pickles are a must try. I ripped through these babies, all the while wiping up that sesame yogurt at the bottom of the plate.

The blistered shishitos with black sesame caesar dressing are highly addictive, so if you order a plate, be prepared to want more and more.

The honey butter tater tots could use a bit more crisp on the outside so they stand up to the honey and butter lacquer, but the well balanced sweetness  is a great way to cut some of the robust and highly savory flavors in the entrees to follow.

The ramen spice wings are the best things here. They’re triple fried,  and coated in pulverized ramen noodles to give it an unrivaled crispy, crunchy batter. Totally unique. Ramen seasoning is actually used in the glaze.

The Washugyu double American cheeseburger with kimchi mayo is also a big winner here. Just big and savory enough to not need to eat anything other than this and maybe those tots on the side. A masterful stack.

What is Washugyu, you ask? It’s a name brand of beef that’s produced by breeding full blood wagyu cattle with Angus cattle.

The Pat LaFrieda dry-aged burger is a thick single patty, also with American cheese and kimchi mayo. There are only five of these available per night, so go early if you want to try it. I found that the Washyugyu meat played nicer with the toppings and condiments than the dry aged flavors. That dry aged meat by itself, though, is so delicious.

I really liked the food here, and I’ll be back for sure – definitely for the wings, cucumbers, and double burger. Those were my top three items here.

BLACK EMPEROR
197 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Houseman

I saw some Instagram photos of a great looking burger from this joint, so I had to go check it out.

The Houseman burger is a double patty with melted swiss, griddled onions and mushrooms, all cooked perfectly and slapped in a toasted potato bun.

Really flavorful, and dangerously easy to crush two or three of these in one sitting. For $20 it comes with fries, and you can get a $2 beer with it as an add on. Great deal.

HOUSEMAN
508 Greenwich St
New York, NY 10013

Chumley’s

I finally made it into the “new” Chumley’s to try the burger. Despite my depression over the massive change this place underwent, the joint is still really cool. I’m also happy it’s back open after all that time being shuttered.

But it no longer feels like a bar. It feels like a restaurant, and the menu reflects that.

As you can see from the menu description, this baby is rocking bone marrow, crispy shallots, “Chumley’s sauce,” and good old American cheese. The burger itself is two large patties. Although it’s a bit unwieldy to eat with your hands, it’s huge on flavor. It was absurdly delicious. Rich, heavy, and robustly flavorful.

 

The marrow really adds a depth of beefiness that’s unrivaled in other burgers, and the Chumley’s sauce tastes almost like a gravy of sorts. I think this would be fine as a single patty, but at $29 you’re certainly getting your money’s worth. Especially considering that they give you a mountain of delicious, golden-crisp French fries that have been tossed in beef fat after they come out of the fryer. Awesome.

This burger is definitely worth getting.

CHUMLEY’S
86 Bedford Street
New York, NY 10014