NYC Restaurant Burgers Have Jumped The Shark

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NY EaterNew York is having a moment of glorified common fare — regional pizza, artisanal breads, breakfast sandwiches. But we are not, by any measure, living in a golden age of restaurant burgers.

Make no mistake: We love burgers. The problem is the culture behind them. Nearly 15 years since Daniel Boulud received ample publicity for gourmandizing the burger — stuffing it with foie gras and short ribs in a style that evoked the meaty terrines of his Native Lyon — chefs are still largely focusing their efforts on transforming the lowly burger into something of gustatory excess and charging a lot for it.

Here’s some advice: Don’t order the burger at restaurants. Not at Emily, where the pretzel burger is obnoxiously listed as “limited availability.” Not at The Grill, where an everything bagel-style burger with fries costs $41. Here’s why you shouldn’t order a fancy burger at restaurants:

  • They’re too big and they’re too rich. The restaurant burger has followed the path of the restaurant steak, which is to say it’s fattier and bigger than it’s ever been, a de facto main course for two even though it’s listed for one. The restaurant burger would be better off shrinking from 8 ounces to 4 to 6 ounces. This is true even of the indisputably outstanding Spotted Pig and Breslin burgers; both of those masterpieces could easily benefit from being halved in size.
  • They’re overloaded. Cheffed-up burgers often have too much stuff on them, so they’re overburdened with so many toppings they end up detracting from the meat. This is as true of a watery tomato as it is of a slice of bacon. (Related: Please do not put a thick slice of canned pineapple on a burger and call it “Hawaiian.” That is atrocious.)
  • They’re too expensive. Rather than serving as a reasonably priced counterweight to pricey meals, the burger is increasingly a manifestation of the fact that literally everything is becoming too expensive in New York restaurants. But chefs get away with it, using LaFrieda blends to lure the sheeple into dishing out $27 or more for a burger. (The Beatrice Inncharges a whopping $38.) If a restaurant offers a burger over $25, it should offer another one below $18.
  • Burgers, on occasion, don’t even come with fries. This is a crime against a burger if there ever was one. Separating fries from a burger is a way to make it seem more accessible behind an artificially low price, a way to turn patty eating into the same obnoxiously a-la-carte affair of choosing a steak and picking sides for add-on prices.

I’ve been noticing this more and more with every single burger I’ve ordered but seeing written about like this finally confirms it. Burgers have jumped the shark. And its huge news for a dude in my shoes. Going out to eat at this stage in my life isnt even a fucking option. I mean I cant even CONSIDER it. I got one kid in a car seat and one kid that cannot stop moving. She’s old enough to be constantly on the go 100 miles per hour but young enough that shes still dumb as shit and you gotta follow her around every where she goes to make sure she doesnt die. You try to sit down at a restaurant and its immediately screaming and tears and utensils thrown on the floor.

So any little tidbit I can get read about that lets me know I aint missing much by not going out to eat is huge. Every burger I’ve gotten over the past 5 years has been laughably big. Every burger seems to come with avocados or some hipster shit like that. 2 inches of tomato, 3 inches of lettuce. An entire raw onion. Everything is covered in an aioli or some nonsense. Its like every restaurant just forgot how to make a good old fashioned cheeseburger with american cheese and some ketchup. And then it shows up on a bare plate with nothing on the side. “Excuse me miss, no fries?” “Oh sorry. Fries come separately. Would you like an order on the side? Truffle or parmasean?” Umm how about just a regular ass order of fries that come for fucking free with my burger? The icing on top is the bill. 26 dollars for a burger with some bacon on it. Outrageous.

Long story short I can rest assured I ain’t missing out on anything when I’m eating at home. I can fire up the grill, throw some Philly Gourmet patties on the grill and eat a burger exactly how I like it. The right size, the right toppings, the right flavor and the right price. Cant suffer from FOMO when the burgers youre eating at home are better, anyway.