Food is kind of like fashion. Things can be in style (or in this case, in season) one year, and then be completely gone the next. Last year it was boho skirts and organic EVERYTHING; this year it seems to be gladiator sandals and burgers. Apparently the current foodie function is to embrace your more carniverous, predator side. And that is totally fine with me.
It hit me a few days ago when I was browsing menus online and reading some food articles: burgers are the new foie gras. Restaurants of every scale are turning out their versions of burgers, and they’re all vying for the title of Best Burger 2008. You have fancy burgers like the ones at STK and DB Bistro, the trendy burgers at POPBurger, the no-frills burgers at Five Guys and Shake Shack, and even the ridiculously expensive burgers at Old Homestead ($81) and Wall Street Burger Shoppe ($175!).
The trend is catching on like wildfire; burgers are very versatile and that is what chefs like about them. There are so many ingredients to play with, and since we live in a place like New York where people are constantly looking for the next food craze, they know they have an existing customer base. But Kobe beef burgers? SO last season. It seems like the new thing to do with burgers is…not much. A lot of chefs have decided that the best way to go in 2008 is with classic ingredients and not too much fuss. Zaitzeff on Ave B for example is nothing but beef, bacon, ketchup and fried onions. And the most popular burgers amongst New Yorkers seem to come from Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien and Shake Shack – both delicious and equally devoid of frills. Even Rachael Ray is hosting the 2nd annual "Burger Bash" during the NYC Wine & Food Festival in October, where chefs will be competing to create the best burger.
So what makes a burger a GREAT burger? That really all depends on your taste. I happen to like a nice, slightly greasy, quality ground beef burger topped with things like american or bleu cheese, bacon, fried onions, ketchup (or that special burger sauce at Shake Shack-yum) and occasionally some mushrooms. Even though I have had Kobe beef burgers and foie gras burgers (and they can be very good), I still prefer a greasy burger with a soft bun and gooey cheese any day. You know, the kind that makes you want to take a nap after you eat it. Here are some of the favorites:
And if you’re really, REALLY in the mood for some grease, try ZipBurger. Their burgers are so greasy they soak through the paper bag. And be aware that the Belgian fries are not waffle fries. Just to clear up any confusion.