One of the best hamburgers I have ever had was the Original DB Burger at DB Bistro Moderne. I went to this restaurant knowing that I was going to order this monstrosity of a hamburger. $29 for a burger? Shocking. I also knew that it would be obscenely overrated — probably some weird Gallic interpretation of a glorious American dish. And that I would be able to smugly criticize Daniel Boulud, the New York Food Scene, everyone who has ever ordered this burger and said it was good, my wife for suggesting the restaurant, and even the passersby on the street while we ate.
My plan worked perfectly until I actually started to eat. To my horror, the burger was spectacular. Not just good, but in the pantheon of burgers. It is actually a combination of short ribs, ground prime rib, fois gras, with a hint of truffles. The bun has parmesan cheese in it. That’s just not fair! And the fries were pretty good, too. So what could I do? I had to cleanse my palate of this trickery. I sought out the other end of the hamburger spectrum. I went to Hackensack’s claim to fame, White Manna. Less than two bucks for a double cheeseburger with sautéed onions. I ordered three of the little buggers. And guess what? They were great! And small. And completely different. I would call them sliders. But they were the equal of Daniel Boulud’s creation.
So, I have examined each end of the hamburger price curve. What about the middle? That would be the excellent burger at Porter House, in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Completely unlike the White Manna slider and the DB…thing. This is a simple, grilled burger, but it is made with good quality beef and served on a bun that isn’t six sizes too big for the burger. Cooked correctly (rare or medium-rare is the only civilized doneness) and served with some good fries. A classic dish, prepared very well.
The moral of the story is simple. There is no logic when it comes to hamburgers.