I made a lunch visit to the newish 67 Burger of Fort Greene Brooklyn the other day. Seems they did their research before opening because the best parts of just about every new burger joint in NYC can be felt here: fresh ground burgers cooked over a flame (Stand, Burger Joint, GoodBurger, etc.), Bosco soda on tap (the other Burger Joint), and they even use the same exact ordering system as brgr with those numbers-on-a-stick you bring to your table. They did adopt one bad trait though and offer Dijon mustard like so many so-called 'upscale' burger purveyors do in New York. Fortunately, when I asked for mustard, they did ask, "Dijon or yellow?" Whew. I wonder what becomes their default mustard though? The menu is vast, laid out like a flow chart, offering an astounding array of options (8 types of cheese??) and many ways to dress your burger. The burger I had was amazing (with mustard and pickle), and dare I say the juiciest I've ever eaten. I ordered mine 'medium' the way I normally would and the burger arrived at temp. My first bite produced an audible slurp and gulp followed by a gush of juices. A burger cooked through with a pink center is not the type you'd associate with gushing juices. Within seconds, the bottom bun had disintegrated. 67 makes a great, thick, juicy burger even though it's a bit over-salted. Don't forget to order a Bosco soda, and stick to the yellow mustard.
On my recent 19 hour visit to Orlando for the Florida Film Festival (see previous post) I had to stop at one of my favorite burger chains, TWICE. Yup, I don't get to enjoy Steak 'N Shake where I live so eating two double steakburgers with cheese, pickles, and mustard was a must (one for dinner when I arrived then one for lunch on the way to the airport). The reason Steak 'N Shake is sooo good is that they use fresh ground beef for their burgers. I like to sit at the counter and watch as the griddle person takes smallish wads of fresh ground and presses them paper-thin on the flattop griddle. The buns are toasted and the shakes are made with real ice cream. That slogan on the plate dates back to the 1930s when they used to grind the meat right in front of the customers, much like the way Joe's Cable Car in San Fran does. We need a Steak 'N Shake in NYC.
Hamburger America the film will be on the big screen at the Florida Film Festival this Saturday. If you find yourself in mid-Florida, perhaps on a visit to Disney World, come on over to the screening. It'll be at 11am at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, FL (Orlando) and is screening with "This Is My Cheesesteak". I'll be there to answer questions about the film, but my real motive for going is to push the book. That picture above is me filming the grease at Dyer's in Memphis. Can you believe they left me alone with the 90 year-old grease?
The party at the Billy Goat is open to the public. Come on down and hear from my book as well as Rick Kogan's 'A Chicago Tavern' (his book about the Goat), and expect to hear some far-out stories from Billy Goat's patriarch Sam Sianis.
The Brooklyn burger outpost Schnack did not close this past Sunday as planned. Manager Chris explained to me that as long as they at least break even they'll stay open through the end of March. I did visit on Sunday, and after enjoying a triple I took home a bottle of the tasty Schnack Sauce ($5). It goes well on just about anything.
The great burgers at Chelsea burger joint brgr just got better. On one of my frequent visits to this slick-but-comfortable burger counter, I struck up a conversation with a managerial type named Cam(?). I discovered that in fact the restaurant is no longer getting their patties from way-out-west. Cam explained that the supplier could not handle the demand and went out of business. I do recall that just before Chris Russell (brgr's creator) disappeared he had me sample a burger made from a 'local purveyor'. The now-famous Pat LaFrieda burger blend (employed in some configuration by Shake Shack and the Spotted Pig) is in full swing at brgr. Go local. Nice job brgr.
I have it on good authority that the end is near for one of the only descent burger joints in Brooklyn. This Sunday, March 16th, our beloved Schnack will quietly close it's doors for good and bid farewell to the single, double, triple, and quad 'Schnakie' burgers. The burgers at Schnack, 2 oz. sliders with a dollop of the chipotle/mayo "Schnack Sauce", have garnered accolades from Time Out magazine over the years and will be missed. Fortunately, chef Harry Hawk is also an integral part of Water Taxi Beach in L.I.C., Queens, which has an awesome, fresh-ground burger on the summer menu (the Motz Burger, natch, designed by yours truly). I spoke to Harry today and he told me Schnack will only be open this coming Friday, Sat, and Sunday...
Maybe that's because I was there today at 11:30am and it was 33 degrees out. Regardless, when the Shake Shack is not rushing thru burger production the result is perfection. There was no line and the wait for my food was 5 minutes. I ate under one of their new outdoor space heaters and even though the thermometer was hovering around the freezing mark I was pretty damned comfortable. It was also fun to watch other diners sipping milkshakes with hats, gloves, and scarves on.
What do naked chicks and burgers have in common? Not much, but this month a list compiled by Jeff Ruby for Playboy.com puts images of busty burgers in place of the nude beauties. I helped Jeff out by supplying some of my own burger porn for the list (shots of the Meersburger and a double with cheese from Dyer's, Memphis). It should be noted that Jeff's list of ten burger spots across the country include 7 from my upcoming book. There was no previous consultation, which means that Jeff chose well...and so did I apparently.
The James Beard Foundation is hosting a gallery show for some of my burger photography. Mark your calendar (if you, uh, have a 2009 calendar) for a Jan/Feb 2009 show in NYC. The show will feature a handful of images from the book. Click here for a preview and check back for updates.