POPSUGAR Celebrity

8 Brazen Bites We Tried at Burger Bash

Sep 30 2011 - 11:38pm

Day two of the New York City Wine & Food Festival has just wrapped, and I'm not sure how I did it, but I managed to survive one of the weekend's flagship events, the Burger Bash [1]. This year's fête, which was hosted by comedienne Whoopi Goldberg (regular host Rachael Ray [2] was out of the country on vacation), featured 21 different burgers, mostly from the New York area [3]. Not only did I manage to survive the impressively big bovine lineup, but I came out on top: nearly ever contender I bit into was so creative that it left me with a takeaway that's guaranteed to make me a better burger builder, too. See the burgers — and their best takeaways — when you keep clicking.

The F*ck Fancy Cheese Burger

The burger: Quality Meats shunned upscale cheese, serving its signature sirloin, round, and short rib beef burger with a croissant bun and nothing but the best: American cheese. And those broccoli and cheese bites were to die for!

My takeaway: Fatty, unctuous short rib meat keeps 'em guessing and adds extra oomph to a burger. And a flaky croissant makes a pretty killer bun, too.

Two Mikes Burger

The burger: Porter House New York's self-described "Italo-American burger" wasn't the moistest or the most flavorful, but it was certainly creative, with hot coppa, hand-pulled mozzarella, and roma tomato jam as the fixins.

My takeaway: Don't be afraid to take an ethnic spin on this American classic, especially not when it comes to Italian ingredients. Spicy, cured meats work wonders in a burger!

Akaushi Cheeseburger With Herbed Mayo

The burger: ABC Kitchen's cheeseburger featured Bloomsday, a cheese similar to cheddar, only softer; baby arugula, herbed mayonnaise, and house-pickled jalapeño slices on a sesame bun. Although it was more medium-well than medium-rare, there was no denying that the meat was soft, juicy, tender, and flavorful. I couldn't stop eating the addictively crispy, not-too-thick-or-thin fries, either.

My takeaway: Use the best-quality meat you can find. ABC Kitchen's burger featured Akaushi, a Japanese Wagyu breed that was sustainably raised in Texas.

Bill's Mini B Slider

The burger: Bill's Bar & Burger in Manhattan's Meatpacking District passed out a slider that was made with American cheese, caramelized onions, and old standbys like Heinz ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Those tots you see in the background? They're sweet taters, drizzled with a jalapeño-honey dipping sauce.

My takeaway: This burger was my favorite of the night. With a pillow-soft slider bun, slow-cooked onions, and a rather generous helping of American cheese, this burger was creamy, dreamy, and really, really hard to put down.

The Hangover Burger

The burger: At restaurant Marc Forgione, the Iron Chef was serving dry-aged beef and spicy bacon in between an everything bun. On the side: potato chips fried in mangalitsa pig fat, then seasoned to taste with bacon salt.

My takeaway: That everything bun was even tastier with a chunk of good-quality ground beef than it would've been spread with lox cream cheese. Bagel burger, anybody?

The Piggie

The burger: DBGB Kitchen & Bar went totally experimental, handing out a beef burger topped with BBQ pulled pork, jalapeño mayonnaise, boston lettuce, a mustard-vinegar slaw, and a cheddar bun.

My takeaway: Barbecued meats and burgers can't just live side by side on the grill; they can also coexist (and even flourish) when they're served one on top of the other.

The "Wisconsin" Cheese Burger

The burger: Abe & Arthur's turned to the Midwest for inspiration — in particular, the cheese-making state of Wisconsin — and used a cheese spread rather than a cheese slice or cheese sauce. The Widmer's cheddar and brick cheese spread was accompanied by a roasted tomato, Nueske bacon, and a brioche bun with a half-sour pickle. Oh, and truffle fries!

My takeaway: Don't ever knock cheese spread on a burger 'til you've tried it. It's not runny like cheese sauce, but it's creamier and more prominent in the burger than a mere slice of cheese.


The burger: Don't let Dram Shop's primitive-sounding cheeseburger mislead you: this burger was delicious, even after I'd already tried 10 others. Two beef squares and a simple topping for shredded lettuce, tomato, diced onion, pickles, mayo, and mustard finished off the masterpiece.

My takeaway: Sometimes Usually, simpler is better.

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