The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Cheeseburger at Veselka and a Steve Hartman Marathon

This is what I would look like if I were a blob creature.

Last Tuesday after visiting the new BK Whopper Bar near Times Square and sampling four Whoppers (''s just part of my job), I thought I was done eating for the day. Calorie-wise, I'm sure I was.

Not that I ever count calories—I hypothesize in a highly unscientific manner that the only reason my body hasn't converted those thousands of excess calories I ingest on a regular basis into pillowy folds of fat that could engulf a puppy is because I'm ignorant of exactly how many calories I eat. If the brain doesn't know it, the body doesn't show it. (...Yeah, I know this isn't true; I just wanted to rhyme.) All I know is that I ate a bite of Whopper here, and there, and a part of a sandwich, and maybe some spoonfuls of ice cream, and maybe some other stuff I don't really remember. Since I didn't think I was going out for dinner that night, I tucked into an extra slice of the newfangled giant Pizza Burger. Bad move, Robyn. Bad. Move.

It didn't take long for every burp to taste like Whopper, and by "Whopper" I mean sort of fake smoke-y meatstuff. It wasn't the most terrible burp-flavor ever or anything, but it wasn't as nice as, say, post-Hill Country barbecue burps replete with slow, gently smoked, deeply beefy and porky goodness.

When Greg had asked me earlier if I wanted to go out to eat, I declined because I was full of Whopper and thought it would be cruel to tax my stomach juices any further. But when the burps became too much, giving me the sensation that my brain/body was transforming into a limp meat patty, I texted Greg to say, "CHANGED MY MIND, LET'S GET BURGERS AT VESELKA PLZ." (That wasn't the exact message; I don't text in all caps. But in my mind that's what it sounded like.)

cheeseburger deluxe

So we did. And for $11.50 with thick, crispy fries, it hit the Whopper fumes-obliterating spot. (A plain cheese-less, fries-less burger is $8.) I know Veselka has its detractors in the burger world, and some of my friends aren't fans either, but it's easily my second favorite burger in the city (after Shake Shack, of course).


The patty is thick, but not too thick, juicy (if you order it medium rare, at least), and has adequate beefiness and smoky char. But all of that could be for naught if not for the perfectly sized bun that, while substantial enough to hold up to any onslaught of beef juice, is also soft and airy, and further elevated by a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds that adds crunch and toasted nuttiness. I friggin' love this bun. I want to hug it, and squeeze it, and digest it.

Flames, you go engulf those patties like crazy.

I don't mean to overhype the burger or say it'll change your life. I happen to find the burger comforting in its well executed simplicity, and it's one of those dishes I think about eating I'm eating it.

kasha Ukranian beet and horseradish salad
Grains n beet mash!

Also, I doubt there are many places where you can pair a great grilled burger with a plate of hearty kasha (buckwheat) and sweet and mildly tart Ukranian beet and horseradish salad ($3.50 each). Since Greg and I weren't at our hungriest that night, we split the burger and supplemented it with some sides. I had never tried Veselka's kasha or beet and horseradish salad (also called tsvikly) before, but now I feel like they should be part of every meal at Veselka.

We were quite full and happy at the end of the meal, but still craved something sweet. Since Greg had loads of fruit in his apartment, we waddled around the corner (yup, I'm envious of his conveniently located apartment) and lumbered up five or six or whatever flights of stairs (I'm less envious about this part) before plopping on his couch to a bowl of plump strawberries and a YouTube-ready TV.

...Hehehehehe. [tents fingers]

So with over a hundred million videos at our fingertips (the best of which involve cats, in particular this one), what did we watch?

"The Animal Odd Couple."

A segment from CBS Evening News called Assignment America featuring Tara and Bella, an elephant and dog who are best friends at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. And just when the video is about to come to a close, after you've said "Awwwww, AWWW, awwww," a half-dozen times, reporter Steve Hartman says this:

"Take a good look, America. Take a good look, world. If they can do it, what's our excuse?"

This became our favorite line. And then Steve Hartman became our favorite person.

Upon Greg's suggestion to search for Steve Hartman videos on YouTube, we spent the next hour or so watching Assignment America clips, culling enough awesome quotes to potentially start a blog called "fuckyeahstevehartman" and thus add to the pool of inane blogs if we so desired (we didn't). We just couldn't stop the flow of quirky, uplifting stories, told in less than four minutes to ensure our brains never strayed to another topic, like, "Maybe we should stop watching YouTube."

There's the teenager who bought a grocery store to help his community, the 104-year-old worker, the prison that makes inmates wear pink, the man who survived a gabillion heart attacks and gave away thousands of harmonicas to kids along with free music lessons (this dude is awesome), the five-year-old golf prodigy who's missing an eye, get the idea.

I emerged from Greg's apartment feeling like a total underachiever. But I'm okay with that.

Burger, buckwheat, and beets, followed by an Assignment America marathon. Tuesday nights don't get much better than that.


144 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (map)

Random Stuff Elsewhere

Every now and then I randomly answer monthly questions at Monthly Morsel about food, such as the one that link goes to. Which is from last month. Because...I you may have noticed.

Also from last month is this nice Q&A I did with Menuism.

And if I've answered food-related questions anywhere else on the Internet, I don't remember where. METHINKS THAT IS ALL.


Susanna / August 25, 2010 4:39 AM

I think Steve Hartman is one of the cleverest writer and story-teller in the world! I've lost count the number of times my eyes welled with tears watching his many touching reports. I love this guy.

Susanna / August 25, 2010 8:01 AM

Oh, one more thing. Visions of Indian Life, a recent story from Hartman; very touching story and smart writing as usual.

kim / August 25, 2010 8:09 AM

I haven't been back to Veselka for awhile. I really like their cold borscht soup. How as the kasha? The last time I had this grain was at Little Poland and it was really salty. Hmm...I cook totally see the beet salad (was it sweet or savory?) on a crostini...

Kate / August 25, 2010 9:52 AM

"If the brain doesn't know it, the body doesn't show it." That's an awesome eating-out philosophy! I never ever look up the calories of ANYTHING because then I know I won't enjoy eating the meal as much.

Nicholas / August 25, 2010 11:34 AM

Robyn, you rhymed it with it... that's like when Korean rappers end every line with -yo (for some reason they're super formal when they're angry or something). Whatever, it works ;)

My caps lock button is actually glued down. If I want/need to type in lowercase, I have to press shift the entire time.

roboppy / August 25, 2010 12:27 PM

Susanna: Oh yay, I'm not the only one! Hehe. I watched the Visions of Indian Life clip!...and then I sort of felt like a crappy daughter. DOODEDOOOoops.

Steph: I can have a whole line of...BLOBBIE SHIRTS.

Belinda: Thanks!

Kim: Veselka's kasha definitely wasn't too salty. I don't really have anything to compare it to, but I just found it...pleasantly chewy and grain-y and healthy tasty. As for the beet salad, it's sweet as beets go, but something you'd only eat with savory dishes I'd assume.

Kate: I think even when I do look up calorie counts, they don't really influence my decisions. Ingredient lists do, though.

Nicholas: Oh hell IT'S NOT A RHYME. ;_; Okay, I'm gonna change that to something else. Hm. [commence chin stroke-age]

It would've been funny if you didn't bother to hold down shift; then you would've sounded really...angry...or something. I'd cower in my seat thinking, "Why is Nick so shouty? :C"

roboppy / August 25, 2010 1:15 PM

Nick: Actually, I change my mind...rhyming "know" and "show" counts as a rhyme, not necessarily the same as Korean rap lines ending in "yo" (unless the words before the "yo" rhyme). I assume there's a term for that, but I don't know what it is. ...I think I spent too much time thinking about this.

Nicholas / August 25, 2010 9:10 PM

LOL, you're right, I was too focused on the it, to notice the subtle rhyming words preceding it.


Sharon / August 25, 2010 11:26 PM

Whispers: I think it's a form of internal rhyme.

I like your blog. It's so descriptive that it's almost like eating the food, but I don't ever have to worry about the puppy-dog-swallowing fat rolls that would result. :o)

foodoverture / August 26, 2010 10:49 AM

when will you come to my hole of an apartment and watch silly youtube videos with meeee?! :) you can also come to watch regular tv too. i haz hd cable! officially extending the invitation now. xoxo

roboppy / August 27, 2010 11:41 AM

Nick: The gears in my head, they turn so slowly! Haha. For an hour it was just like "doodeedooodeedoo."

Ivan: Thanks! It's a happy, fluffy pile-o-grains.

Sharon: Thanks! No puppy-engulfing fat rolls for you. (pokes self in fat rolls)


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