Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Don't believe the hype

The recent fad of burger joints in NYC has led to a debate of sorts on which place serves up the best burger. If you polled 10 people, you'd probably get 10 different responses on someone's favorite. Certainly favorites like PJ Clarke's, J.G. Melon's and the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian will make anyone's top 10 list. While others will opine Corner Bistro, Shake Shack, Uncle Nick's or various others. While I certainly don't have enough time to go into a full fledged debate on this topic (plus i'm saving it for a "super secret special new blog to come in a few months"), I did try one of the new hotspots in "Burger Land" last night called Zip Burger.

Bridget & I actually kinda accidently stumbled upon it after wandering around the east side looking for a place to eat. I remembered that a few people told me I should definitely try it sometime. Actually some have gone so far as to tell me: OMG it's the best burger around!!! (those people shall remain nameless, even though it's doubtful they're readers here anyway). Now while I value everyone's opinion, I'm also a skeptic at heart. So I decided we should try it for ourselves.

Zip Burger is cut along the lines of the recent crop of "build your own burger" places, like Good Burger or Better Burger.

(Warning: Side rant coming. Do you think the Build a Bear workshops led anything to the build a burger concept? Did some "burgerpreneur" go into a Build-A-Bear one day with his child and say, damn...you know what...these guys are onto something. I wonder if this would work with burgers instead of bears! By golly, I think I have something here!

"Build-A-Bear" may have led to the formation of the "build a burger" concept

Anyway, the whole building a burger from the bun up idea is pretty nifty, right down to picking your own bread. You get to choose from a Beef, Veggie, Salmon or Turkey burger (the latter three will cost you $6, the beef- $4.50). Then you pick your bun -the "classic bun" costs nothing, but a whole wheat, sourdough, english muffin or lettuce bun will cost you extra. Then you select your cheese, which ranges from American to Gouda. Then come the toppings. Surprisingly the only toppings that are free are pickles (they must have a pickle tree in the back). Anything else will cost ya. Lettuce? Cough up a quarter. Tomato? 25 cent. Onions (red - fity cent; vidalia - 75 cent). Applewood smoked bacon? Dollar fity. So as you can see, "building" a big burger is gonna cost you pretty quickly. Plus it's kind of pushing things a little when you start charging for burger "staples" like lettuce and tomatoes.

I opted for a Vermont Cheddar Beef Burger with pickles, lettuce, tomato and red onion on a whole wheat roll. That came to $6.50. Which isn't bad for a bar let's say, but for a "fast food" joint...you're starting to get into that "better be worth it for the money" area. We got a sack of fries in a brown paper bag (which allowed the oils to collect nicely). I added on a strawberry shake and a mint infused unsweetened iced-tea.

My Zip Burger, built from the bun up

The burger itself was definitely juicy and you can tell it was hand made. The meat fell apart as you bit into the burger, which is a good sign of a hand crafted burger. Being one who handcrafts my burgers as well, I appreciated the effort that goes into making hand-built burgers. The bun was soft and tasty, but wasn't firm enough to handle the burgers and toppings, and ended up falling apart on me after a few bites. Had the bun been grilled a bit it may have firmed up a bit to handle the load. The fries were nice and oily, and decent, but definitely not the best i've had (i'm more of a salty, shoe string type fry guy myself). The shake was very nice (hi-five!) and definitely went down smoothly.

Overall I'd say the burger was decent, definitely not "the best i've ever had" nor the worst I've ever had. It was passable, although for $6.50 I'd probably just as soon go to a bar and order a "pre-conceived" burger that came with the standard ingredients. So the jury's still out. But as far as being "OMG worthy!" like a few have told me...well I'm not so sure about that. While its a good suggestion for a take out lunch or a no-frills sit down dinner on the east side (i'm not a fan of getting food like this delivered mainly because you're taking the handling of the food out of your hands - but more on that at a later date) I wouldn't willingly go out of my way to get it.

Just like the vastly overtrumpeted (and overcrowded) Shake Shack, and the hit or miss Better Burger, sometimes, my friends it's best to listen to Public Enemy when they say "Don't Believe the Hype!"

Listen to Public Enemy: "Don't believe...doe doe don't believe the hype!"

1 comment:

neil from the uk said...

seems a little pricey for a burger? no?