Double Burger

Not one, but two burgers have been conquered here. Tyson Skross chows down and between mouthfuls spouts out some burger truths……“g.n”

Saying that a burger is the best in NYC is a bit like saying that you found the most perfectly round pearl in the ocean. It is humanly impossible to qualify that statement because of the sheer numbers. There is always the possibility that the better candidate is out there lurking in a dark corner of the city, or tucked away in the back of some bodega.

Having said that I think I have nabbed a contender, certainly “one of the best”, The Market Burger at LIC Market in Long Island City, Queens. Located right in between the sculpture center and PS1 it is the perfect stop off for a Sunday brunch in-between some art viewing (I don’t know about you but I always like to have a cold one or two before dropping into an exhibition, you know, just to take the edge off).

The establishment itself is small, with just a couple of tables on the sidewalk outside, a little counter and a few more tables in the back. But the atmosphere is cozy without any pretensions. Walking in you get the idea of what kind of care they put into their food right away, with house made jellies and spreads for sale. Not to mention their freshly baked breads and pastries under glass on the counter.
Sitting down and looking at the menu I knew exactly what to get:
Market Burger $10
 caramelised onion bun, cheddar, sliced tomato, greens, aioli w/ home fries

Shortly after placing my order, I was greeted unexpectedly by a plated assortment of breads and baked goods; scones, carrot bread, whole grain, along with a pat of butter and house-made apple butter. All of it excellent. Now my appetite was whetted, if this was any indication of what was to come I knew it would be good. And the burger did not disappoint, sitting upright on its sturdy bun, melted cheddar oozing out the side, along with a bit of liquified aioli…Picking it up I could feel the weight of the burger, a solid creation.

The first bite released a torrent of juices that were immediately absorbed by the bun…the flavor….everything in perfect harmony, the beef up front first, excellent quality, good amount of fat, not too much but enough to hold the flavor of the meat. The rest of the ingredients coming together to push that flavor, support it, but still managing to pop off their individual personalities, everything fresh and exuding quality. A utopia on a bun…but that isn’t fair because it doesn’t do the bun justice…The bun, better than brioche, better than even pretzel. An excellent balance of soft and hardy, just enough so that as you take the final bite, the bun is just then dissolving in the juices of the burger…Even more than that, it takes on the additional role of the seemingly missing traditional burger ingredient, onion. And in a way that elevates the ingredient to a new level. Grilled onions? Forget it. Bake em right in to the bun…

Take a sip of beer sit back and enjoy what has just transpired, something amazing. And for 10 bucks no less, wow there is good in this world….
(P.S. on a second trip months later, I can only re-emphasise this verdict, even better than I had remembered and as we all know that is no mean feat in itself, to outdo in reality what our fondest memories project).

I’m struck by another reason that it is impossible to say that their is a best burger, because like any other type of food, the variety and types of burgers out there puts them almost in completely different categories, I mean really, can you compare a black bean patty to kobe beef? Buffalo to angus? All can be prepared from the freshest most high quality ingredients with the utmost love and each one can be amazing in itself, but who is to say one is best? It’s too subjective, to each their own.

If the LIC market burger is excellent because of its delicate balance of high quality ingredients, then the Spiced Black Angus Sirloin burger at Bonnies Grill in Park Slope is a winner for the way it embraces its roots and lets all of its uncompromising flavors live together. Bonnies Grill is like an old school counter joint, a few tables to fill the space (and satisfy the people waiting to get in!) and a long counter all play second fiddle to the grill. If you can sit at the counter you should, its the way its meant to be. Pictures of the Ramones, Patti Smith and other NYC rock icons line the walls. The music playing is not just the hits but the misses too, all coming from NYC rockers down the ages it lets you know that this place is no poseur. Its the real deal. These burgers are made 8 or 10 at a time, following a tried and tested production method seen in diners the world over…But that doesn’t mean they aren’t quality.

If they were brothers, the Market Burger would be the well adjusted craftsman, studious, serious and good at what he does, and knowing it every minute of the day, Bonnie’s burger? Probably the musician of the family, no less talented or successful, but embracing a freer lifestyle, not afraid to crash on the floor. Used to tapping into his emotions for his art and putting it all out there, unafraid.

The bottom line, it tastes good. I don’t know what the spice is, the lettuce, onion and tomatoes are fresh yes, but not pedigree. The bun is your typical diner variety, a hardy specimen dusted with cornmeal and toasted on the grill. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, whatever, its your pick. A little more cooked than I would have liked, but still in the range of medium rare. As you bite in to this burger you get grease…sweet spicy grease…Whatever that spicy mix that they coat these things in, it is good. Not too spicy, just  bit of a kick, but intensely flavorful. This is the workaday burger at its best. And while the slaw is good, get the fries, this is definitely a burger and fries type of burger. Sure it may not be as high on its horse good as the market burger, but coming in at $10.95 (you gotta pay the rent right? It is park slope…) the spicy black angus sirloin burger at Bonnies Grill is definitely a burger regular’s best friend.
(p.s. the steak sandwich is also excellent, if you want a break from the burger scene definitely try it out)

by Tyson Skross


Categories: New York


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One Comment on “Double Burger”

  1. July 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    I’m sooooo hungry now! I can smell the grill and crave the juices running down my cheeks. Put these places on the list to visit next time I’m in town.

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