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Holly Moore

White Manna

139 posts in this topic

I finally made it to White Manna on River Street in Hackensack.  Best burgers in at least New Jersey and a great floor show to boot - from the emcee working the grill to the 5 year old spinning on the stool behind while I was standing, waiting for order and kicking the back of my legs every time he spun.

Worth the three hour round trip from Philadelphia and then some.  What White Castle wishes it could be and I'm a fan of White Castle, though not as much now as I used to be.

(Edited by Holly Moore at 7:44 pm on Aug. 4, 2001)


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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White Manna is truly a Ur-Burger experience. It is the primordial essence of American fast food.

For a completely different burger experience in Bergen County, I wholeheartedly reccommend the Jackson Hole Diner in Englewood on Grand Ave, right off the Grand Ave exit on RT 4. Rachel and I went there for the first time this evening, and it was truly a Burger to be Respected and Awed. Its sort of like the Fleetwood Cadillac of the burger world -- large, imposing, and with plenty of bells and whistles.  

Jackson Hole has branches in NYC, but I am convinced this is probably the best location out of all of them -- the place is set in a true diner setting, and has a full service menu incuding big grilled chicken sandwiches, salads and a full-blown breakfast treatment. The place prides itself on what it calls "The 7 ounce burger" but in reality this burger is a #### of a lot larger than 7 ounces. Maybe more like 10.  The huge loaves of ground meat are cooked steam-grill style under these metal domes, so that all the moisure is kept in during the cooking process -- resulting in a very juicy and almost fluffy kind of a burger, more like a meatloaf on a bun.

About 20 variations of this burger can be ordered -- I had the "East Sider" which was the burger with fried onions, ham, bacon, mushrooms and cheddar cheese, which came deluxe with lettuce, tomato and thick cut french fries. Fries were crispy and not greasy -- and were great, but the real piece de resistance of sides was the onion rings, which actually made a CRUNCH sound when you bit into them. They are actually on the borderline of overcooked, but they were not burnt -- sort of hovering on the border of burned -- the fry chef is a timing genius.

Jackson Hole also has their own line of root beer, which is served in an ice cold frosty mug. Sweet but not overpoweringly so, but somewhat less carbonated than most root beers. Definitely a must to go with the burgers.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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I ate at the Jackson Hole near Laguardia Airport a few months back and was NOT impressed.   The burger was as described by Jason--conceptually at least--but not in execution.  If it was steamed grilled, it doesn't fully explain how the cooking was so uneven.

Maybe I just went on a bad night though...

If Jason and Andre manage to retrieve the old posts you will see my very favorable opinion of White Manna, so I won't repeat it yet.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I know its strange... but I actually like the burgers at Johnny Rocket's by the way--especially the "Number 12" burger.  Rocket burgers are thin, slightly uneven patties that are cooked to a bit of a crisp on the edges and have a bit of a crunch to them.  The Number 12's innovation is that instead of using ketchup or BBQ sauce it uses a sweet red sauce that tastes pretty close to cocktail sauce.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I think that branch is probably not a good one. Not all restaurants in a chain can be considered equal. Given the high standards of restaurants in Englewood I am sure this one is probably an outstanding example.

Quote: from jhlurie on 11:45 pm on Aug. 4, 2001

I ate at the Jackson Hole near Laguardia Airport a few months back and was NOT impressed.   The burger was as described by Jason--conceptually at least--but not in execution.  If it was steamed grilled, it doesn't fully explain how the cooking was so uneven.

Maybe I just went on a bad night though...


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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Never been to White Manna. And I have never had a McCDonald's hamburger either. For burgers we go to Gaffers in West Orange.


Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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I've never been to White Manna, but pictures and descriptions of it are similar to White Rose. The best burger I've had is at Gaffers in West Orange. They have an excellent cheddar cheese that they throw on top of it. The waitress says that the canned cheddar is actually better; moister. Some people eating at Gaffers actually told me that the Burgers at Barnacle Bills in Rumson are better. Have you ever tried them, Rosie?


John the hot dog guy

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Never been to Barnacle Bills in Rumson. Burgers are usually a spur of the minute dinner at our house and we live near Gaffer's. If we take a ride down the shore it is for dinner in a restaurant rather than a pub.

                       


Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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In case anyone cares, I had the Western Burger at Jackson Hole in Englewood.  I thought Jason's East Sider had too much stuff on it.  Mine had fried onions, bacon, jack cheese and BBQ sauce.  This was a great combo.  But, for a truly zen burger experience, next time we'll get plain cheeseburgers.

I think I'll bring a scale next time we go there, the menu says they are 7 oz, but I think it was more like 12, after being cooked!  It's hard to do big and good at the same time, but somehow they manage.  Much better than the one I had been to in NYC.

Rosie - not too far a drive for you would be Charlie's Aunt in Chatham.  Excellent burgers in a bar setting.  That's where my dad used to take me when I would spend the day at his office when I was a little girl.  (Yes, Jason and I have been there more recently!)

(Edited by RPerlow at 9:58 am on Aug. 6, 2001)

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Gaffers is already on my list to hit the next time I get to North Jersey.

But, as great as the White Manner Burger is, part of its "flavor" comes from the whole experience - the interplay with the grill man, the jostling as people come and go, the sizzling splattering burgers on the grill, the community of the customers all having a great time, even the building itself, inside and out.  

I find it hard to believe that any other burger joint has put it all together as well as White Manna has, though Charlies, just south of Philadelphia, comes close.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Holly:

Theres a burger joint in Meridien, Connecticut that I want to try that was mentioned on the Stern's Road Food site. The cooking technique sounds really interesting.

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews....&Type=1

Also Louis Lunch sounds interesting in a more paleontological way than Manna -- supposedly the hamburger was invented here.

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews....&Type=1


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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Louis' Lunch, according to many reports, invented the hamburger in 1895.

It is as you might expect a highly idiosyncratic institution. The guy behind the counter (at least as of a couple of years ago) is extremely ornery and moody, and spends each day locked in verbal mortal combat with his daughter (the cashier) and his customers.  The tiny burgers come on white toast. Cheese is available, as are tomatoes, but other toppings are unheard of. And whatever you do, you must never ask for ketchup. Doing so is grounds for expulsion from the restaurant.

The meat is of high quality and the interesting vertical grill, which applies the heat to the surfaces of the upright hamburgers, does a good job of keeping in the juices. Nonetheless, I am not a convert.

The place is very unattractive and uncomfortable, with just a few seats, of course.

(Edited by Fat Guy at 4:58 pm on Aug. 6, 2001)


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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And here's a pic of the White Manna burgers, themselves:

WhiteManna-SignBurgers1.jpg

That's a single on the left and a double on the right.   Not the prettiest burgers around, but...

And here's a bunch of them admist steam, sizzle and splatter.

WhiteManna-Grill.jpg

(Edited by Holly Moore at 6:58 pm on Aug. 13, 2001)


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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It's a good thing they taste much better than they look.  Then again, melted cheese, red meat and onions are rarely attractive singly, or in combination.

And the way the top part of the bun got all wrinkled... that's the topper in that photo.   Doesn't really affect the taste, of course.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Do we eat with our eyes or our mouth or both? If I had to choose between those burgers based on the photo I think I would prefer food from a high school cafeteria!


Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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I've been taken to task by a few visitors to HollyEats that some of the food doesn't look appetizing and why don't I take a course in food photography or something.

I call it restaurant veratae - what I got is what you see.

But I submit that when it comes to great roadfood, be it a couple of White Manna Burgers or Rutt Hut Rippers or whatever, between the layer of grease on the walls and eye appeal's lowly position on the grillman's totem pole, you have to check your eyes at the door.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I saw a TV special once about NY delis, where the current owner of Katz's was interviewed for a particular segment. The interviewer pointed to pictures on Katz's walls, which included shots of piled-high pastrami sandwiches.

"What are those?" the interviewer asked.

"Jewish Pornography" replied the owner.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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I can attest that Holly's photos are accurate, although the top bun isn't usually that smooshed.  My personal order at White Mana?  Two double cheeseburgers (but don't double the cheese part), fries and a chocolate shake. This has to be told to two different people.  The grill guy/gal only takes the burger orders, someone else does the fries & drinks. Sometimes I'll order another double if I'm really hungry.  I don't like getting the singles because of the high bread to burger ratio.

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I fianlly got to see this temple of culinary delight last night. I still don't get it. But I didn't go inside and have never tasted their food. . First of all the place is so tiny how can anyone get in there? Do you go in one at a time?


Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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It doesnt look very big, but its not uncommon to see more than 10 people in there at once.

Its like that British sci-fi TV show, Dr. Who, where they fit all those people into a space ship the size of a telephone booth.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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As I recall White Manna sits about 10 at the counter, another 8 or so across the windows and, when I was there, a packed Saturday afternoon, another 10 or so standees.  Part of what impressed me was the grillman's ability, under such pressed conditions, to keep everyones order straight and to still carry on conversations with a number of customers.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Holly re the grillman... well Manna does have have a VERY limited and focused menu, so its not that tough for the cook to handle since everyone is basically eating the same thing. What is impressive, however, is that he/she knows how many burgers each customer is eating, and whether or not they have cheese or pickles or onions on them or whatever ... you definitely have to be detail oriented for sure.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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