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The DB Burger


Robert Schonfeld
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The DB burger has been nearly universally praised for its brilliance of conception and for its deliciousness. I recently had my first, and found the idea of it overwrought, and the eating of it disappointing.

Let's dismiss the bun right away. It is described as a "parmesan" bun. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Mine had no discernible parmesan taste. It was a bun.

Burger size: not big. In ounces? I don't know.

The famously stuffed burger only confused my mouth. The foie gras was there, the braised short rib was there. They were surrounded by what I would describe as a casing of hamburger meat, maybe ground, maybe chopped, I didn't notice. Ordering this thing medium rare didn't seem to have much purpose, as only the "casing" could be so prepared. The braised short rib and the foie gras occupied sufficient volume of the modest whole as to render the experience of eating a medium rare burger all but moot. Yes, the hamburger meat was cooked to medium rare, but its relatively small volume obviated the bite, the mouthfeel, the chew of a medium rare burger.

Niether were the other elements - the braised short rib and the foie gras - identifiable except to serve the purpose of indicating to the mouth that something besides burger meat was present. As I say, this muddle of meats resulted in the feeling that I was getting less, rather than more, burger.

It seems to me that the DB burger's appeal lies in its description, and in a mistaken inference of glamor; that is to say, "Look what this talented haute cuisinier can do when he sets his sites on an American classic. Isn't that remarkable! He has redefined the hamburger just as he has redefined the upscale semicasual dining spot." I'm just guessing that there are a lot of people ordering this burger, and then thinking they wish they'd gone to Smith and Wollensky instead. Thinking it, but not saying it, because, you know, this is the darling item of the moment and we're supposed to kvell over it, all the while allowing ourselves to be made fashion victims.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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The DB burger is breathtakingly priced at $29., or within a dollar or so of that.

It's irrelevant whether I find the combination of braised short rib and foie gras appealing; (I prefer each on its own.) More to the point, neither was distinguishable in my burger, and both detracted from the "burgerness" of the experience.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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The DB burger is breathtakingly priced at $29., or within a dollar or so of that.

It's irrelevant whether I find the combination of braised short rib and foie gras appealing; (I prefer each on its own.) More to the point, neither was distinguishable in my burger, and both detracted from the "burgerness" of the experience.

I have not tried the burger.. But would want to agree with you... But I should be mute until I try it. Your points make great sense. And I LOVE foie gras.

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A valid contrarian view, I think. I would observe that they may be getting lazy with the buns. When I tried this some months ago, the bun was certainly Parmesan-flavored. I enjoyed the contrast of the meat textures. At the same time, I haven't rushed back to eat it a second time, which I guess says something. My view - a nice enough dish, but not the work of staggering genius some have claimed. As I remarked back then, it's a long time since Gary Rhodes started stuffing faggots with foie gras.

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A valid contrarian view, I think.  I would observe that they may be getting lazy with the buns.  When I tried this some months ago, the bun was certainly Parmesan-flavored.  I enjoyed the contrast of the meat textures.  At the same time, I haven't rushed back to eat it a second time, which I guess says something.  My view - a nice enough dish, but not the work of staggering genius some have claimed.

I seem to recall some very positive posts here when some members first had one. I found it delcious, but would agree with Wilfrid that it's just not the kind of dish that draws me to a restaurant. Curiosity and the need to know, was what made me order one in the first place. I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. It seemed more like a gimmick than a serious creation. After having it, I thought of it as more of a famous chef's folly (not as in foolish thing, but as in an architectural folly sense or an amusement) than gimmick or serious creation.

This, from May 1st from a member who's no fan of Daniel, was not atypical of reactions:

i had the burger at DB on my last visit.  it was very good...and fun.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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A valid contrarian view, I think.  I would observe that they may be getting lazy with the buns.  When I tried this some months ago, the bun was certainly Parmesan-flavored.  I enjoyed the contrast of the meat textures.  At the same time, I haven't rushed back to eat it a second time, which I guess says something.  My view - a nice enough dish, but not the work of staggering genius some have claimed.

I seem to recall some very positive posts here when some members first had one. I found it delcious, but would agree with Wilfrid that it's just not the kind of dish that draws me to a restaurant. Curiosity and the need to know, was what made me order one in the first place. I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. It seemed more like a gimmick than a serious creation. After having it, I thought of it as more of a famous chef's folly (not as in foolish thing, but as in an architectural folly sense or an amusement) than gimmick or serious creation.

This, from May 1st from a member who's no fan of Daniel, was not atypical of reactions:

i had the burger at DB on my last visit.  it was very good...and fun.

Bux, always the generous one. :smile:

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This, from May 1st from a member who's no fan of Daniel, was not atypical of reactions:
i had the burger at DB on my last visit.  it was very good...and fun.

daniel the man? or daniel the restaurant. the distinction should be made. :wink: but clearly, the author of that comment is handsome and charming.

i've been to db moderne perhaps 4 times. i had the burger the first time, as you almost must, and then again when i visited with another egulleter who was excited to try it (perhaps she can throw in her perspective). i think we both enjoyed it, but as some have suggested, i probably won't go back just for this dish. 2 fish dishes that i sampled, however, were stellar, and i'm looking forward to an excuse to return.

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daniel the man?  or daniel the restaurant.  the distinction should be made.  :wink:  but clearly, the author of that comment is handsome and charming.

Daniel the restaurant, and clearly we're speaking of someone charming enough not to hold a grudge against the chef or he wouldn't have tried db. I wouldn't hold your breath for any confirmation of "handsome." :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux, always the generous one. :smile:

I hoped not in this case. I thought to offer an honest opinion and balanced view. Perhaps it should be pointed our that I have had some connections with Daniel Boulud. It's something I've mentioned often enough, but if I seemed generous here, perhaps it should be noted again.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I have two problems with the burger, one easily correctable.

1. If you order it medium-rare, as suggested, the shortrib middle isn't, well, hot. So order it medium or medium well. That way you'll get a good crust and the entire thing will be a bit warmer.

2. There's not enough truffle to suggest that you're really eating anything other than meat. Of course, I ate mine in late May, which may have made it problematic to sufficiently truffle the thing within the amount of space that can be allocated to truffle, but still...

Jake

Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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