Hi everyone, as we are approaching the end of 2011, I have been reflecting back upon what I have learned this year. Among other things, I realized how difficult being a professional food critic must be; whether that means eating out 2 or 3 meals a day or consuming an endless amount of hamburgers. But wait: during the past week, I ate 3 different hamburgers from 3 different restaurants leading to something which I call red meat overdose. (Here’s what happened the last time I did this:
Maybe I am becoming a professional after all!
Of the 3 hamburgers which I consumed, 2 of them came from my list of the top 10 hamburgers in New York City: (Here’s my official list:
The new kid on the block is Burger and Barrel:
Burger and Barrel
25 W. Houston St.
New York, NY
4 stars out of 5 stars
I tend to have a built in radar which alerts me to restaurants that are either too trendy for their own good or those which are continuously overcrowded, almost to the point of being detrimental. (Minetta Tavern, I’m looking at you) Therefore, when I was told that it would be a 45 minute wait for a table on a Thursday night at 8:30 pm, combined with music louder than it had to be, I immediately became suspicious. Nevertheless, I had traveled all the way down here with two other food bloggers so we decided to wait for the table. I met up with Rory and Jessica who write burger reviews for their great site called Superlative Eats; for their review of Burger and Barrel, go to
Things took a turn for the better after we were seated. The service was great and our waiter was very accommodating. The loud music played in the front sounded as if it was now on more of a background level. What I found interesting was the wide array of songs that were being played: hip hop, dance, rock, blues, even rap music played over a rock beat. Whoever designed this place put a lot of thought into its “soundtrack” and I appreciated it.
After we discussed the possibilities on the menu, I ordered a mushroom Gruyere hamburger which also had sautéed onions on it. Instead of French fries, I asked for homemade tater tots; not only was the waiter nice about doing this, it was my smartest decision of the evening! As I waited for the food to arrive, I chatted with my fellow foodies who I had never met before. They were both very nice people and we discussed our careers, different restaurants, and of course baseball and other sports. I didn’t even notice how much time had passed when our food was brought to the table.
My first observation was that the burger was on the small side, but since no one else thought so, I figured that it was just me. (I do tend to eat mainly massive hamburgers so anything “normal” seems strange) For the record, it was an excellent burger: the patty comprised of flank steak and top sirloin was extremely fresh and flavorful, and the char was just enough to satisfy my taste for a crispy exterior. Perhaps the burger was a bit salty, but somehow the level of seasoning worked. The genius combination of mushrooms, onions, and Gruyere cheese, were all delicious and complimented the beef well. And then there are the tater tots: all I know is that you need these: you definitely require a daily portion of these crispy tots in your life… or at least I do! Can you remember being a kid and going to a school cafeteria and eating tater tots? Now think of a grown up version with real potatoes, no chemicals, and they are unbelievably crispy all around. The bottom line: no matter how many stars I give the burger, the tater tots raise the bar and stole the show.
Once again the magic of a good hamburger prevails and a good time was had by all. At this point the difficult part is determining whether or not Burger and Barrel belongs in my top 10 list of best burgers, and if so, where? I’m inclined to say that Burger and Barrel probably could make it towards the end of the list but I’m not sure who I would eliminate to make room for it. Bottom line: this is definitely a restaurant that I recommend. I plan to start the new year with a sense of positivity and I wish all the best for all of you during the holidays and year to come!