Best Burger in New York Challenge: New York Burger Company

by incomparablyjonah

With a name like “The New York Burger Company”, you certainly set up the expectation of being your namesake’s true ambassador. The precursory the” has a sort of definitive quality about it. But, just like how “The Old Spaghetti Factory” should hardly be viewed as the” definitive standard for spaghetti (the only thing honest and definitive in its title is the fact that the establishment is rather old), similarly, the” New York Burger Company is not quite the definitive New York Hamburger, though it makes a good showing.

The first Burger in my New York Burger Challenge.

The first Burger in my New York Burger Challenge.

This Burger makes the category of my “August” Burger. As I started this challenge on August 30th, it occurred to me that I had one Burger to review before the end of the month. So yes, while this is technically September, this really counts as August’s Burger, so expect me to find an excuse to eat another Burger this month, or even two (Since, you know, September is National Burger Month, and September is my birthday month, those two facts hardly being idle coincidences, just like how March is host to both Rick Perry’s birthday and self-injury awareness month).

Last Friday, I went out in search of my first Hamburger to review in New York. The closest Burger was from the New York Burger Company, just around the corner from my apartment. The New York Burger company typically does not make any “Must-try” lists, but I figured if I found the perfect Burger the first night out, that this entire challenge would be pointless. View this like a TV drama that lasted four (or eight) seasons too many, where we start recycling old plots, stretch out everyday occurrences for the sake of extending contracts, and where we basically create a more challenging world for the sake of making something that should only take an hour into an epic, yearlong event. I may or may not be talking about a show where a government agent runs around with a gun, making death threats in a husky voice (as most government agents do).

Moving on from poorly veiled criticisms that alienate my friends, let’s talk about the Burger: The Burgers come pre-designed with a few specialty toppings, leaving you the liberty to customize the rest. I ordered the “Tri-Beca Burger”, served with bleu cheese, avocado, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and jalapeno, along with an order of fries and a Diet Coke. After briefly listening in on three parallel conversations while waiting, my order was called.

The meat, cooked medium rare, was quite flavorful, and it was certainly the driving force behind the Burger. The Brioche Bun (like all good Brioche Buns) preformed its job; providing support and even a slight measure of sweetness when you least expect it. You know, kind of like that nice architect guy from “Titanic” (You remember, he was the guy from the cast who went to acting school before the movie).

Maybe if he concentrated on his book long enough, he could ignore James Cameron's bad script.

Maybe if he concentrated on his book long enough, he could ignore James Cameron’s bad script.

The toppings were fresh-the lettuce and onion were crunchy, and from a textural standpoint were sound. However, they ultimately were a little bland, and they got lost in the shuffle. For instance, raw Jalapenos should add a great deal of spice to a burger; the burger I ate had the spice of a 25 year old marriage. Additionally, the Bleu Cheese was waaaaaaay too watery, and throwing a Brioche sponge at the problem wasn’t going to help (which was surprising, given Brioche’s natural tendency to be ranked alongside Challah as “bread most likely to be found in a box of cleaning supplies”). The bacon was crispy, but was limited in quantity. Altogether, the toppings, while top quality, missed the mark in terms of flavor.

From an engineering standpoint, the hamburger held together magnificently (thanks in part to the beautiful Brioche Bun…that’s what happens when you eat a bun that reminds you of an architect…you know, cause that means the burger will stay together because architects design things, not because architects are especially beautiful). From a flavor engineering perspective, the burger was not quite as good as I would have hoped.

Yeah...definitely not because architects are beautiful. Frank Lloyd was many a thing, but suave he was not.

Yeah…definitely not because architects are beautiful. Frank Lloyd was many a thing, but fantabulous he was not.

The flavors were muddled (it wasn’t until this paragraph that I even remembered that avocado was somewhere in the mix!) and, while they should be able to compliment eachother on paper, the ingredients never worked together as a flavor team. (Flavor Team is a term I just coined…right now…just keep watching, this will be the new culinary term all chefs use, and it will then turn into a reality cooking show called “The Flavor Team”, and eventually will serve as a faint inspiration for a direct to video film with talking dogs called “Flavorbuddies”, where the dogs must learn to work together to stop an evil chef from taking over their owner’s beloved but financially struggling restaurant).

And, of course, he would be the one with the catchprase your five-year old would quote for the next year.

And, of course, he would be the one with the catchprase your five-year old would quote for the next year.

By now, you might be wondering, if the toppings and engineering had this many problems, is it even worth it to go to New York Burger Company? I’d wager it is. Beyond the meat and bun finesse, NY Burger Company has some of the best fries in the city. Made per order, the potatoes are fresh and the fries are crispy. Better than the fries, however, are the dipping sauces. Most gourmet burger or Belgian fry eateries will charge you per sauce. NY Burger Company has a free gourmet sauce bar: Horseradish Aioli, Jalapeño Ketchup, Maple Mustard, Basil Aioli and eight other sauces provide an amazing variety of flavor. Even if you just want a snack, stop in at New York Burger Company; get some fries or buttermilk onion rings. They’re definitely worth it.

Sadly, my experience at New York Burger Company ended on a somewhat sad note. After noticing they served shakes made with Haagen Dazs Ice cream, I promptly ordered one to go for dessert. This proved to be a mistake: While the ice cream was top quality (like all great Haagen Dazs ice cream, it was made by a New York Jewish company masquerading as Germans…I know…it’s weird), the milkshake was simply, well, too milky. I typically prefer shakes to lean on the side of liquid than solid (A shake is the dominion of straws, not spoons, unless you’re stealing somebody’s whipped cream), but this was just too much.

Here’s the breakdown:

(out of 10 possible points)

Meat Quality-8

Bun Quality-8.5

Usual Suspects (Standard Toppings)-7.5

(The rest are out of 5 possible points)

Specialty Toppings-3.5

Engineering-3.5

Sides-4.5

Shakes-2.5

Overall (Out of 10)-7.6

At best, New York Burger Company serves a very good burger that falls short of being great. The fries make the trip entirely worth it, and it’s a terrific spot for a quick lunch.

new york burger

The search for the perfect Burger will continue.

I feel like I need a “Next week on…” segment, but I have no idea where my culinary adventure will take me!

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