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tommy

THE BEST: Burger

164 posts in this topic

no, i'm not nominating anyone.  but i am looking for a great burger for lunch today.  i've heard that there's this irish pub down on 2nd or 3rd ave around 20th or so, but i forget the name.  does anyone know what this place is called?!?!!?

any help would be greatly appreciated (especially if it comes before noon!)

nevermind...i just found out that it's called "Molly's".

(Edited by tommy at 11:09 am on Aug. 15, 2001)

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Let us know how Molly's is. I've heard people rave about this place. And I've yet to go to the Viceroy.

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Of late I've really been enjoying the burgers at some of the steakhouses. I hesitate to call these things burgers because they are really more like what some places refer to as "chopped steak," though that is a very subtle and perhaps not entirely meaningful distinction. In any event, steakhouse burgers at the good steakhouses tend to be made of very high quality meat and often they're char-grilled. Smith & Wollensky and Michael Jordan's are to primo examples.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The burger at Molly's ranges between very good and completely dried out. Asking for it to be prepared medium-rare does not help as this appears to be an intrinsic property of whoever is cooking that day (statistically, Fridays tended to be drier). What I really like about Molly's is the combination of well poured Guinness (or a couple) with the burger - a combination that makes you very laid back for the rest of the day :)


M

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Whatever you do don't fall for the 'Bistro Burger' trap.

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So true. Ever since I wrote an unfavorable review of the Corner Bistro years ago, I've received a steady stream of e-mail calling me crazy. "When are you going to join the consensus of mankind and admit the superiority of the Bistro Burger?" is one representative comment. Finally, because I was in the neighborhood and curious, I stopped in a couple of months ago to give the place another chance. I followed the advice I'd received from many and went on a weekday afternoon. Amazingly, despite the near-complete lack of customers, there was no improvement in service (as my father used to say, you can't get good service in an empty restaurant). The burger was simply not good. I bit into it and a stream of fat and blood ran down onto the plate (entirely beyond any desirable level of juiciness). The meat was wet and mushy. The cheese was fluorescent. And the bacon was flabby and undercooked -- impressive, since they deep fry it, or so I'm told (deep frying should guarantee crispiness unless done with complete incompetence). Both the bacon and the fries tasted of fishy oil.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steven, the burgers at steakhouses you refer('very high quality meat'). What cut of beef, do these steakhouses generally use for their burgers? I ate a burger at a top steakhouse here, they use ground sirloin if my memory is correct.

Most of the best burger places use ground chuck(or a mixture featuring ground chuck) it seems. Are Angus burgers anything special-beyond using angus beef?

My pet peeve with many restaurants serving burgers, is that they often overcook their burgers. I always order my burgers cooked medium, but rarely get it that way.  With Mad Cow worries by the general public, I might never get a medium done burger ever again at a restaurant!

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If the prion theory is correct in describing the transmission of BSE/Mad-Cow, cooking a burger well wouldn't make a difference anyway!

It's hard to know what cut the steakhouses use, because even the descriptions tend to be suspect. The use of the term "sirloin" has been subject to so much abuse it's no longer clear what it means in any specific context. Even some serious butcher shops misuse it to refer to the strip. At Smith & Wollensky, I was told by the waiter that they use the tips of the tenderloins. I doubt that's true, because ground tenderloin (a/k/a filet mignon) seems the wrong cut for grinding/chopping, but maybe that's just part of a blend. At Michael Jordan's they told me they use "sirloin," though I can't say which sirloin they were talking about.

It is my understanding that chuck makes good burgers not because of the quality of the meat but rather because of the fat content. It is often said that a great burger must be made from low quality meat. I'm not sure that's right. You can use a steak-quality cut as long as you include enough fat to get the blend up to the right percentage (I'll check later to see what Julia Child says on this, but I don't want to wake the dog and he's guarding the cookbooks). And the meat itself in that event will doubtless taste better.

As for Angus, because the designation refers to a species of cattle it's not as meaningful as a specific grade for quality. Theoretically, you can have good Angus and bad Angus just like any other beef. Still, the Certified Angus Beef that gets labeled as such tends to be the best beef in a supermarket, though not necessarily as good as what you'd get from a top butcher.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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well, i got to Molly's.  i guess it was a "good" day, because it's perhaps the best burger i've ever had in my entire life.  and that's sure saying something.

ordered and cooked medium-rare, it was juicy, charred, big, flavorful, incredible.

of course, if we're on the sujbect of burgers, i should mention the DB Burger at Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro.  it is sirloin burger filled with braised short ribs, foie gras, and black truffles.  quite decadant, and quite delicous.  and at 26 bucks, quite expensive.  although it's worth every penny.

this restaurant just recently opened.  it's at 55 w 44th street.  http://www.danielnyc.com/db.htm

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I would nominate the burger at Peter Luger's, served during lunch, as one of NY's best, and certainly one of NY's best bargains, as the burger is only ŭ.95.  If you want fries with the burger, then be prepared to pay Ů.95.  

This incredible deal is not listed on their menu (or at least it wasn't the last time I had it).  You simply have to ask the waiter.

Don't know what cut of meat they use, but the taste was, to me, very very close to the taste of the great Peter Luger steak itself.

The other wonderful advantage of lunch at Peter Luger's is that you not only don't need a reservation, you can usually walk in and  pick your table.

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Somehow the trip to Williamsburg for a Manhattan resident, which is hard enough to justify at nighttime give how awful an experience Peter Luger is in every regard other than the best steaks in the world, seems even less justifiable for a burger at lunch. It is also impractical for people who work at offices, though discipline around here is so lax in August I could probably get away with it.

But I'm curious. Anything that's not on a menu gets me interested. Let's say I try to do this. What are the best public transportation strategies from my Midtown East showroom?

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I'll second Tommy's choice for Molly's. #### good.

Jackson Hole is also very good but I think the NJ location in Englewood is a tad better.

http://www.fabuloustravel.com/gourmet/outtolunch/xmas.html

Downtown my choice goes to McSorleys - cheap and good. Simple, unadorned. Goes great with some brews and a liedenranz cheese plate.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Quote: from Jason Perlow on 10:02 am on Aug. 18, 2001

Jackson Hole is also very good but I think the NJ location in Englewood is a tad better.

i'm a bit shocked that anyone would think that a burger that isn't char grilled could possibly be considered notable.  additionally, as far as i remember, you don't even order a temperature on the burger at jackson hole.  that, to me, is an indication that someone is very medicore in the air.

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Tommy, I'd say there are several legitimate styles of hamburger, and grilled-with-heavy-crust is only one of them. Top broiling creates a similar crust and depending on the equipment being used can I think do a better job because the fat runs off and away instead of creating flareups. Certainly top broiling is preferable to a gas grill -- and there's a question whether any burger cooks long enough to pick up wood flavor from a wood- or charcoal-grill. Cooking on a griddle or in a skillet typically creates less of a crust, though this varies according to specific technique. The tradeoff is that griddles and other flat, full-contact cooking surfaces create juicier burgers all other things being equal. If you work on this at home, you can get an excellent crust and a very juicy burger using a cast-iron skillet -- this has become my preferred method over the years. Some prefer to emphasize juiciness above all other characteristics, and that's where steamed/griddled burgers come in -- such as at Jackson Hole where they're cooked on a griddle and under a little metal dome.

I love them all, as long as the particular burger in question is a good example of what it's trying to be.

At the Jackson Hole I sometimes visit (Second Avenue and 84th or thereabouts), they do ask how you'd like your burger cooked and they generally come close. It's not my favorite burger, but there is tremendous variation from branch to branch because the Jackson Holes are pretty much independently owned and operated. It's a very un-chain-like chain in terms of consistency. So I can't comment on the New Jersey location in question.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I’ve not been to Corner Bistro in a while, but over the last few years I estimate I’ve eaten there fifteen times. Their burger is as Fat-Guy describes: “I bit into it and a stream of fat and blood ran down onto the plate”. But I just love that juiciness. Only once have I been during the day, so the fluorescent cheese I’ve missed. And come to think of it, I don’t think seeing this place in daylight is to be recommended.

As for McSorley’s (maybe their burger was mentioned on another thread): Ewww…the reek of this ale house puts me off beer. The idea of McSorley food is not appetizing at all.

Now closed Rose Café’s (5th Ave around 9th) “5 napkin burger” was good before the restaurant went very downhill. Funny that, like every other in than spot. It might be jinxed.

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Hi everybody:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the burger at 21.  It's been a couple of years, but I remember it as being quite tasty. Just don't let them foist the "21 Sauce" on you. It is a delightful mixture of ketchup (or is it catusp) and mustard. This is a good choice if the client is paying.  

Adam

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Quote: from Fat Guy on 1:44 pm on Aug. 18, 2001

I love them all, as long as the particular burger in question is a good example of what it's trying to be.

perhaps my statement was taken a bit too strongly.  believe me, i've never met a burger i didn't like...well, within reason.

with that said, i relate the jackson hole (the 3rd ave and 36th give-or-take location is the only one i've been to) style of burger to many other foodstuffs that i enjoy as well, but don't necessarily think are tops in any way.  

as an example, i'd mention the following:

i love taco bell's hard tacos.  but i don't think they're notable examples of mexican food, or even notable examples of good tacos for that mattter.

stouffer's french bread pizza is delicious, but i don't consider it good "pizza".

and not to use a hamburger analogy, for fear of it being misunderstood, but i love McDonald's double burger, but certainly don't consider it a good "burger", by any reasonable definition of "good burger."  

These things offer great taste for me, and fill a need.  However, they are not exceptional examples of what they pretend to be.  They are merely items that taste like something good (to me at least).  A product.

all of this talk of burgers is making me hungry.  i'll just say that i do like jackson hole.  there's also a place on bourbon street in NOLA that cooks their burgers under hubcaps on a griddle.  and believe me, there is no doubt in my mind that at 3 am on bourbon street, *those* are the best burgers in the world. ;)

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Tommy, I'm in complete agreement.

Abbeynormal, I like the 21 burger well enough, and I like the mini-burgers on the bar menu even more, but if you talk to the old timers you'll hear pretty much universal agreement that it took a turn for the worse during the Aretzky/Rosenzweig era. I have the old and new recipes lying around somewhere, as reported to me by an employee, and I recall the old recipe being rather unique (brunoise of celery cooked in stock and mixed into the chopped meat) and the new recipe being generic. Not that there's anything wrong with generic hamburger recipes -- they are a rather straightforward food, albeit easy to screw up. But when you charge ษ or so for a burger, you've got a high standard to meet.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steven,

I've been an ardent follower of you online since well before you got the easier to remember URL.

The only time I had the burger at 21 was after I was sworn in. I don't know what it was like in the olden days, but I do know that I like hamburger in my hamburger. Though I like celery ( and one imagines there would merely be a faint taste of it) I don't want it in a burger.

I can whole heartedly recommend the hamburger deluxe from the 4 star diner on 1st and 76th. Tell them to make the fries well done.

As for McDonald's, I used to order 5 at a time. To my mind this was equivalent to a normal portion of hamburger. Alas, my stomach just can't take it anymore.

Adam

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Abbeynormal, I go back and forth regarding additives in hamburgers. Sometimes, I take the position that anything but 100% beef is, er, abnormal. Other times, I welcome the flavor enhancement. I feel the same way about steak sauces and seasonings. So ultimately I come back to the position that I love all burgers on their own terms, as long as they meet those terms.

And thanks for the praise. I love praise.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Can't believe someone would eat in McSorley's. Have to say I'm not squeemish about eating in some dives but that place is disugusting. Sawdust on the floor and bad beer

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We can debate the beer another time.  But the objection to sawdust is a bit odd.  Admittedly it's just an "old bar" affection, but unless its also sitting on the burger grill, who cares?


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Quote: from jhlurie on 1:58 pm on Sep. 10, 2001

But the objection to sawdust is a bit odd.  Admittedly it's just an "old bar" affection, but unless its also sitting on the burger grill, who cares?

yup, that Molly's place has sawdust all over the place, but the burger was incredible.  in this poster's defense though, if memory serves, McSorely's reeks of stale beer for the most part.   certainly not an ideal environment to be chowing.

(Edited by tommy at 7:19 am on Sep. 11, 2001)

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A few thoughts after reading through this string -

The Philadelpha Palm serves one of the best burgers in Philly.  So I tend to agree that a place that serves a good steak will probably also serve a good burger.

It is a tragedy that there is no Peter Lugers in Philly.

There is at least one restaurant here that insists on cooking its burgers well done.  They are probably doing it because of the high incidence of salmonella and ecoli poisoning that can occur in ground beef cooked to less than 160 degreed internal temperature.  I don't eat there anymore.  Hamburgers must be cooked no more than medium rare.

A good hamburger blend has a mix of chuck for juice/fat and flank or similar for flavor.  Learned that at Hamburger University.

The bun/bread is almost as important as the meat in a hamburger.  Too many times the bun is stale, toasted too dry, not heated at all, way to bready, softened crust from being stored in plastic, and/or far bigger than the burger.  The McTechnical term for the latter transgression is meat to bun ratio.  I enjoy burgers on fresh Kaiser Rolls, Crisp airy french style rolls, english muffins and a good firm multigrain bread.

At home I both broil (I have a restaurant salamander) and grill (I also have a very heavy cast iron griddle) burgers.  I tend to prefer the crisp crust one gets from the cast iron griddle.

I'm with Steven as to additives.  One of my favorite hamburgers in my college years was the OllieBurger from the local Lums, which was packed with spices.  But I object to additivies such as onion, which gives the burger a meat loaf air.

I am not a member of the Bigger is Better majority when it comes to hamburger patties.  Thicker is usually better.  But the margin for error in cooking a half pound hamber to the proper degree of doneness is too great.  And it's usually too sloppy for even me to eat.  I'd much rather have two thick quarter pound burgers.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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