It was the best of times and the best of times
New York, NY
Posh burger, squash burger blah, blah, blah…. Yes, I’m back after an all too lengthy absence to fill these pages with opinions, rants and hopefully things that will give you a laugh while making you salivate a bit too.
Aren’t you all tired of the “faux” gourmet burger movement?!? We all know of the places to which I refer. Just because they’re better than the Red-nosed Clown Burger doesn’t make them good. Ok, I’ll admit that there are a far greater number of establishments serving truly elevated burgers than there were ten years ago but those aforementioned just don’t make the cut. However, I’d like to tell you about a couple of my favorites that do.
If I’m in NYC or Miami and Jonesin’ for a ground beef fix fortunately I have my friendly neighborhood cholesterol pushers. The Minetta Tavern-this piece of old New York Greenwich Village is truly a classic. Dark and wooden but warm and welcoming at the same time. First stop the bar, where I proceed to get just slightly lubricated-well, it was cold out and the old bones needed a little grease. One very powerful Manhattan later it was time to transfer ourselves to the table. What to order? Appetizers aside there was only one choice, the Black Label Burger. This “grandfather” of the modern high-end burger movement never misses. A perfectly ground blend of what appears to be 8-10oz. of purportedly dry-aged rib eye, skirt steak, brisket and short rib. Softly packed, not over charred and cooked just as ordered-yes, medium-rare here actually means medium rare. Simply accompanied by caramelized onions and served on a Balthazar bun. It’s everything a burger should be. Is it expensive? Yes but worth all $32.00. As to the fries, they’re fine but not really my style. Correctly cooked and crispy with just enough salt but nonetheless a bit thin for my taste.
It’s way too cold for me in the northeast, I’m heading south. After a day of doing not much of anything, I started to crave…… On the edge of the Design District a quick ride but a million miles away from the touristy throngs of South Beach is the Cypress Tavern. A recent incarnation of the former and more formal Cypress Room, this place feels like it’s been on the scene for a long time. What appears to be Cypress paneling and vintage pictures of Miami gives the room that “old shoe” feeling- Sorry if I’m wrong on the wood species but I didn’t have my copy of Hugo Cuttindown’s A Lumberjack’s Field Guide to North American Trees- Dining alone that evening I planted my ass at the bar and ordered a Fashionably Late. What is a Fashionably Late? Well, that’s kind of an ongoing commentary on my punctuality or lack thereof but in this case think of it as rum Old Fashioned with a couple of different bitters and what was said to be all-spice simple syrup. Damn good! Time for the burger. At $22.00 it’s a real bargain. This offering I was told is made from chuck and one or more cuts of dry aged beef. Again in the 8-10 oz. range and perfectly cooked with a mouth-feel that is neither too coarse or fine nor too fatty or dry. Complimented by Jasper Hill Landaff, onion marmalade and thrice cooked fries-now that’s a burger and fries.
Do I have a preference between these two? Not really, other than Cypress Tavern has better fires and is a better deal- I’m guessing staying off the beach saved me at least eight bucks. This level of burger nirvana is rarely achieved. Enough so to perhaps turn Ebenezer Scrooge into Mr. Fezziwig.
Until next time Happy Eating and Drinking…….