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DuMont: A reason to go to Williamsburg.

At long last, another BURGER REVIEW.  Despite the blog name, I have not reviewed a hamburger using the original ‘07 format in a while, but, after my short absence from the blogosphere, I must do this as a service to you, the fans.

Today’s burger joint: DuMont (the restaurant, not the DuMont Burger spin-off).  I was starving when I arrived at DuMont early on a Friday evening.  Famished.  Running on empty.  Hunger pangs, the full nine.  Fortunately, JBE and I found a parking spot right outside, and we were sitting within moments of our arrival.  The place was decently crowded, but the OpenTable reservation made moments before departure was a key move.  BG was there already and had snagged a table for us.  Why I am giving you all a play-by-play is beyond me, but it just feels right.

You know what else feels right?  Knowing you are going to be going to town on a burger within an hour.  I am actually heading to JG tonight, so I know exactly how right it feels, even as I type this.

And without further ado, the review, in the classic 2007 format:

Overall: A very solid burger spot out in Williamsburg with a chilled-out vibe (I mean, these guys opened up DuMont burger, so clearly something is right!).  I can’t attest to it, but the mac and cheese also looks like it’s a crowd-pleaser.  Which reminds me, I should eat more mac and cheese.  I mean, I love the stuff.

Be careful with some of the starters, and get a salad, for sure.  I know, I know, a salad is generally a weak choice in lieu of fries, but JBE and I got a bed of fresh baby, while BG got stuck with “eh” fries.

“Hi, I’m….”: “Jesse, Jeff, Jett, Jacynth, and Jesth, ‘with a J.’”

I mean, it’s Williamsburg.  You’ve got some hipsters wandering around, wearing tight flannels, skinny jeans, plastic-rimmed glasses, long-ish hair.  The works.  But everyone seemed pretty cool and laid-back, so I was cool with it.

I’m Here, What do I see? : The owners of this place also own the Dressler, which gets props for its décor.  The atmosphere is pretty laid back, with a bit of that “this could have been picked up at a flea market” feel to it.  We were a group of three and we sat out in the “garden,” which was kind of a make-shift covered outdoor space with gas heaters.  I’ve never been in the summer, but I can imagine that it gets pretty packed on the prime weeknights, and I could see myself hanging out putting back a few Six Points.  The heaters kept everything warm and toasty, which is prime burger-eating temperature.  You can’t be wearing a sweater and expect to get all up in some ground meat.

NB: The area isn’t really the best part of Williamsburg, but it is right near the subway, which helps for non-BK residents.

The Good Stuff: Now, I usually don’t comment too much on other food items than the burgers, but since DuMont is a bona fide restaurant, and we did have a few starters, so I feel like they are within the scope of work here.

Because of the aforementioned hunger pangs, we got a few starters.  We got the crispy artichokes (“crispy” is my favorite euphemism for “fried”—let’s just call a spade a spade.  Nothing is crispy naturally apart from raw vegetables, and no one wants those as a starter), the smoked spare ribs, and a braised pork belly with maple fried rice.  These were our starters before having burgers.  To be healthy, JBE and I got salads.  You should see us, we are veritable Adones.

Anyway, of the three items, the crispy artichokes were the best.  They were fried perfectly, with a tangy garlic vinaigrette and freshly squeezed lemon.  Although they were fried, they were light and not at all greasy, just the way they should be.  And, as an added bonus, they took away all of the pieces that I can’t chew, which usually end up piled on the side of my plate like a piece of gristle from a sirloin.

The ribs were good, but nothing to write home about.  They were barely worth writing about on the blog.

The pork belly was also good, but honestly was not much better than a local Chinese joint could put together for delivery.  The pork was good but overly sauced, losing all of its delicate porkiness.  It was (dare I say) too fatty, and was just over the top.  The fried rice was tasty, but it was way too sweet.  The maple flavor was over the top, and it did not really complement the pork belly for me.  It was a special for the night, so I would not order it if it came back.

Now, on to the main event.  I got my burger with cheddar cheese, medium rare.  What arrived at the table was a perfect medium rare burger, and the cheese was melted to perfection.  I don’t remember too much about the bun, but I remember that it was a brioche bun that was a little too sweet for me, but BG likes her burgers on brioche, so it worked out for her.  Next to the burger were some pickled cucumbers and onions.  The pickled onions were awesome and I could have eaten an entire jar of them.  Apparently the onions are missing if you go to DuMont Burger, so keep that in mind.

The burger was very juicy and well-seasoned, and incredibly juicy.  The patty was nice and thick, but I would have preferred to have a little bit more caramelization and crust on the outside of the patty.  It’s not cooked on a flat-top, so that explains it.  In spite of that, I truly enjoyed the burger.  It came together as a solid package, and I would definitely go back, although I am not in any particular rush.

And next time, I won’t get as many starters.  I’ll start with a clean base.

Rating (out of 7 cows): 4.5/7


Union and Metropolitan Avenues, Williamsburg

Turkey Osso Buco, and a tribute to a legend.

A few years back, before I found out that my entire database of Thanksgiving memories was built on a corporately fragmented hard drive, but after I had built enough of a true database to know that I did not like traditionally roasted turkey, my family started to mix it up on Turkey Day.

One year, it was a Thanksgiving goose (roasted on potatoes that cooked in the goose fat… how could that have been bad?).  Another year, a lavender-smoked duck.  Another year, another piece of fowl.  Something about the Burgerrati family just yearns to rebel against the Thanksgiving tradition.

This year not being an exception, it was decided that this year’s feast would feature a new addition to the mix: the turkey osso buco.  My stepmom found a recipe from Giada (I know, I know), and it couldn’t have been simpler.

It’s a few quick steps: brown the turkey in oil after a light dusting of flour  (the recipe calls for the breast and thigh, but the breast is not necessary at all, just stick with the dark meat, including the drumstick), add the mirepoix, cook until soft, add some white wine and some tomato paste, add the turkey back into the pot and cover with stock.  Pop it into the oven and let it do it’s thang.  Couldn’t be easier.

Oh yeah, and on top is a little gremolata (parsley, lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, salt/pepper).  Yep, be jealous.

The best part is, you don’t even need to do this on Thanksgiving– it’s anytime food.

Now, on to another piece of business.  As you all know, I just got back from a little journey to the left coast.  And, as I always do, I stopped by In-n-Out.  I just can’t resist its charm.  I even took pictures of my lunch, and was all ready to write a great post about the feelings that I-N-O evinces from my very soul.  It was going to get me published in a national publication (again- ZING!).  It would be my master oeuvre.

Imagine my dismay when I see this.  Quelle horreur!  What the hell, Nick?  You took my glory.  You are already a well-known blogger man, give some love to the little guys!  But you know what, I am going to do it anyway.  And, check out that link again, and look at the comments.  Look who started typing I-N-O first.  Yeah, burgerblogger, that’s who.

In any case, I got to experience the joy that is In-n-Out when I was back home.  While I was in high school, a location opened about a quarter-mile from my house.  This was a great addition to the ‘hood, and it allowed me to start experiencing burgers for more than just a patty of ground beef on a bun.  When this location opened, it turned out to be one of the few places on which both my mom and I could agree that we liked the food.  It was one of the few places that my mom would get excited about if I mentioned I wanted to go there.  That memory has stayed with me, and I reserve my In-in-Out trips for when I am staying at her house.

There it is- the lunch of champions.  A glorious 880 calories.


The Return: Minetta Tavern Redux.

A lazy tune plays over speakers, the tinny brass melodies permeate the air. The soft golden lighting casts a nostalgic hue over the scene at the bar.  Sipping a scotch on the rocks at the bar, I can’t help but think of countless others who have been in the same situation as I, and just as content.

A lonely madame sits at the bar, gazing into what should be smoke-filled air.  She listens to conversations of those around her, yet she herself is without companionship, at least for the moment…

A suave blond gentleman enters the scene, he appears to know everyone, and everyone appears to know him. Or perhaps they are just pretending.  He. looks around before wandering to the bar for an aperitif.  Receiving it, he retreats to a corner of the bar.  Perhaps it was all an act.

A cold whiskey warms to soul while it numbs the senses.  A good night to come.

Ok, maybe the scene at Minetta Tavern this past friday wasn’t so reminiscent of James Joyce, but it was still pretty good.  BG’s dad hooked up the friday night reservation, and out of the kindness of his heart, also paid the bill.

We first sat down to what I was sure would be another great meal at Minetta Tavern.  The black label was a must, but the steaks were to be the main event for the evening.  Kicking it off, I ordered an appetizer special of day boat scallops and mushrooms, which ended up being a delicious mixture of mushrooms, scallops, and butter.  I mean, how could you go wrong?  Some other apps at the table included fresh heirloom salad (I suppose the “healthy choice”), a puréed soup of some sort with oysters, roasted beet salad, and salt-cod stuffed calamari.

All that out of the way, it was time to relive a magical memory that I had experienced six months prior.  The black. label. burger.

Yes, the black label burger was an intermezzo. It came out, divided in thirds (for me, BG, and the BGD).  I didn’t waste any time, going straight in without adding anything to it, which is exactly how I had done it the time before.  It was as tremendous as ever.  Thinking about it now makes my mouth water.  No, seriously, it does.  It’s that good.  One third wasn’t enough.  I wanted more.  But I knew that a whole lot of red meat was on its way.

And it arrived.  The côte de boeuf, shared among three of us, even though the menu indicates that it’s for two.  I don’t think that I know two people who could polish that bad boy off.  It came with three giant bones split open for the roasted marrow action (a BB favorite), and a plethora of delicious meat.  And we rocked it.  We rocked it till the cows came home.  It was just a blur of carnage that my arteries have yet to forget.  I fully recommend it, but maybe, just maybe, start with something light and do the black label if (ok, when) you have room for it.

For dessert, we had the chocolate soufflé, which was light and fluffy like a soufflé should be, with a subtle egginess that made it like rich velvet on the tongue.  Chocolatey velvet, that is.  The perfect end to another fantastic meal at Minetta.

It already feels like it’s time to go back.

It just makes cense. Or does it?

Saw on the twitterline that La Cense Burger truck was midtown east today, so after hitting up the vietnamese fruit smoothie cart on 47th and park, I took a little stroll down to the LCB truck.  I was shocked that there was not a line, since usually when I walk by it’s like a financial geek haven.

I ordered up a steakburger with cheese, and chatted with the guys.  Apparently it was a busy day earlier on, so I had just missed the rush.  Whew.

After chatting with the guys for a little bit, I got the burger.  The patty is pretty hefty for a burger truck patty, I was surprised.  I wish I had had my cellphone, but I had left it at the office, so unfortunately no pics today 🙁   It looked a little dense, but I was hoping the flavor would make up for the texture.

Now, the La Cense cattle are grass-fed, so the texture and leanness of the burger patty might not be for everybody.  The caramelized onions help a little, but the burger is in no way the grass fed beauty of the Minetta burger.  The taste was decent but not great– you can tell it probably was quality meat at some point, but I’m not sure that the truck is the place to experience it.  The griddle top cooking didn’t really impart a crunchy char layer, but there was some decent coloring.  I would maybe get another one if I were walking by by chance, but I wouldn’t hike out of my way to get there.  But, you can rest assured that it’s all sustainable and good for the environment and all that, so that’s a plus.

3.5 out of 7 cows.

La Cense Burger Truck
Various Locations– follow them on twitter

Another Shack for Shakes

Old news by now, since it was released about five hours ago, but the new Shake Shack will be delighting eaters down in NoLIta at the corner of Mulberry and Prince.  I don’t really have too much to say about this, but felt like it was just good for everyone to know.  That’s a cool area, I suppose.  I’ll stick to the one on the UWS.

On another note, has anyone seen anything about this market that I am helping set up on Sunday?  It’s like no other farmer’s market (not to bite from Fairway)  Check it out. It’s intense.  I’m going to be a part of history.  Be sure to include this in my biography on wikipedia.

DBGB: Like CBGB in three letters alone.

So burgergal and I went to DBGB a few weeks back, just because we had a hankering for some sausage and some burgers.  The spot had recently opened, so my GF the BG had called DBGB ASAP and got us a TFT (table for two).

We went on a sweltering evening in July (july 16th if you are curious or were there and saw us).  It was really hot.  Hot enough that I had to stop into Whole Foods to take a breather.  (Side note, the A/C in Whole Foods is quite refreshing.  I’m not sure how green it is to have a 200,000 sq ft grocery store with high ceilings cooled down to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but I like it anyway).

Anyway, we walked into DBGB ready to pig out.  I was actually sweating like a pig, so it all fit.  (Another side note.  I realize that these visual images may make you think that I am either a) very out of shape or b) exceptionally heavy-set from eating a lot of hamburgers.  I am in fact neither of those things).  We sat down to a nice table next to a couple of fellow foodies (i heard them talking about markets and momofuku and places in queens i’ve never even heard of), and across from a group of Japanese businessmen.  These guys were classic; they all went out between each course to go smoke cigarettes, and they all ordered the same exact thing.  It was great to watch.

So, we started out with a couple of sausages, because, why not?  We had the boudin, which BG did not eat because of an understandable aversion to sausages that have the consistency of brownies and are made with blood.  We also had the beaujolais sausage, which was delicious.

After fooling around with tubular meats, we went in for the kill: one Yankee burger (a good old american cheeseburger) and one Frenchie (a fancy-pants daniel boulud burger with braised pork belly on it).  Each was different and unqiue, but I’ve gotta give it to the Yankee.  It was a straightforward and simple product that tasted delicious and was well cooked, as a good burger should be.  The Frenchie was just a little too much for me– the pork belly had a slightly oily taste and it just made me feel like I was back in the sweltering heat of the day.

Then BG and I had a sundae for dessert.  It was fatty.  I actually didn’t feel SO bad until I read the below on Grubstreet about Wylie Dufresne and his wife:

“9:50 p.m. We started eating at DBGB, just the two of us. We had the Beaujolais sausage and the blood sausage with mashed potatoes and scallions, which I think has got to be one of the best things I’ve had in a while. They have three burgers. My wife is a fan of the Piggy, but we went for the Yankee because we had some sausage to start.

10:42 p.m. We had dessert. I had a coffee-caramel sundae that was delicious. That being Monday and having had a fairly large dinner, I did not work out that night. Went to bed.”

Now, it seems that Wylie is on some sort of kick to lose weight or something.  But, they “had some sausage to start” and decided to forgo a second burger because of it.  BG and I had sausages to start and continued to order two burgers AND eat dessert.  This makes me feel badly about myself.

But I digress.

The food at DBGB was great.  And it’s not too expensive for a nice weeknight dinner.

299 Bowery (at 1st St)
5 out of 7 cows.