A few months ago I was made the editor of Serious Eats' burger blog, A Hamburger Today, despite that my burger fiend quotient is 1/100,000th of these guys. Yet I'm at the top of the page (eating gelato; not even a burger!), thus giving the impression that my diminutive head is brimming with burger knowledge. Lies. All lies. I'm mostly good at blogging things and keeping the content a-flowing.
But this doesn't mean I don't love burgers or that I'm not opinionated about them. Being the AHT editor has given me an all-access pass to "Screwing Moderation," meaning that I can stuff myself with more juicy patties of ground beef than ever before—I'm shooting for at least one a week—in order to catch up to my burger-loving peers and inch closer to death. I still can't write about burgers in any authoritative way, but I'm discovering what sucks and doesn't suck about burgers. This is the stuff they don't teach you in college. This is real life, man.
Dumont Burger has been on my "to eat" list for a while. Although it got mixed reviews from my friends and the Internet, it seemed dumb not to try one of the most famous burgers within walking distance of my apartment. Kathy, Tina, Alex, and Kåre joined me on my burger-eating quest; we would all success—or fail—together.
Before eating the burger, I prepared my stomach with a vanilla milkshake, aka "the most socially acceptable way to mix ice cream with your meal." If you ate a spoonful of ice cream in between each bite of burger you might be labeled as having brain damage, but blend a bowl of ice cream with milk, suck it with a straw, and you're totally normal. DB's milkshake made with Ciao Bella gelato passed the grand "intense face sucking" test, that is, my first sip required such intense sucking that I could feel my brain gradually collapse into itself as the dairy-based semi-solid crept its way up the straw. You should burn at least one calorie with every sip, each of which, unfairly, probably contains about 50 calories. (I made up that number; the real one is probably scarier.)
When we realized how stupidly cold it was outside (although nothing compared to the borderline freezing weather we're having now), we moved our party of five inside, even though there was only enough room for us to awkwardly sit in a row facing the wall that was non-conducive to conversation. (The central communal table was full.)
While I know I can eat a 10-ounce burger without feeling too sick, I know I'm better off eating something smaller. At only five ounces, Dumont's mini-burger was just the right size. The burger came with thin slices of sweet pickle and crisp red onion, a fat slice of tomato, and a fresh, soft leaf of what may have been butter lettuce.
I put everything except for the tomato in my burger and bit into...unappealingly chewy bread. A ciabattini, or a mini ciabatta roll, to be exact. While I love a good, chewy, crusty roll for most sandwiches and I liked this ciabattini on its own, I don't like them in my burgers. The patty was too soft to hold up to the bread, and since this burger was so tall—you can't get your mouth around the whole thing unless you unhinge your jaw—meat patty and toppings were constantly at risk of squishing out. I'd rather not have to readjust my burger after every bite like an uncomfortable pair of underpants. (...That doesn't just happen to me, right? Have I said too much?) I liked the patty for being juicy and flavorful with a bit of char around the outside, but it was just so damn...fat. Overall, the burger was tasty as some kind of meaty sandwich, but as a burger I have to give the bread and patty thickness the thumbs down.
One of these problems could be easily solved by using a soft brioche bun instead of a ciabattini. They have them—it was used in Alex's chickpea burger (like a giant falafel patty sandwich). Why are they holding out? Why? Maybe you can specifically ask for it.
The burger comes with either fries or onion rings. Onion rings were of the humongor, perfectly round slice variety, but were on the greasy side. I preferred the skinny fries.
Near the end of the meal Alex decided that he too wanted to partake in face sucking milkshake goodness with a chocolate milkshake he would proceed to nurse for the next hour, thus providing him with 500% of his RDA of calories, which he easily burned off by merely breathing. Skinny bastard. I'm showing you this photo because I want you to see how awesomely he gives the squinty eye. I live for the squinty eye; one glance sends daggers of joy into my very soul.
And here's that random group shot I posted a while back. "Hey guys, stand in front of that picturesque grate. And make a weird expression. Okay, thanks." The unparalleled creativity of my art direction knows no bounds.
Kåre, Alex, and I went to the Museum of Modern Art after lunch and saw such revelatory food-related exhibits such as this inedible floor cake.
And these inedible cheeseburgers.
One of my favorite things about modern art museums is finding that one piece that makes you think, "What the fuck? No." This skinny canvas painted red on its face and black around the edges was out WTF-piece.
We roamed around Central Park after leaving the museum. A giant splotch of nature surrounded by the opposite of nature. I've never been a fan of Central Park, but it's nice to know it exists.
After stopping into FAO Schwartz for a little peek (it was definitely more appealing when I was still in the single-digit age range), we made our way towards 42nd Street in hopes of catching a movie. Not that we had to go to Times Square for that; it just happened to be the location of the closest movie theater I could think of. However, I forgot something important about Times Square on a Saturday night: it's really, really crowded.
Squeezing through hoards of slow moving people does not make for a pleasant walk. I used to go to Times Square all the time when I was younger—before I discovered that the rest of Manhattan was less theme park/zoo-like. However, being in Times Square could be fun—in a surreal way—without all the human interference. Maybe. I don't plan on ever being there late enough to find out.
When we finally reached the movie theaters—there are two across from one another on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues—we realized that the movies either sucked or we didn't know enough about them to want to fork over $12 to be possibly disappointed. Besides that, we were semi-exhausted.
Our new plan took us to Kim's Video & Music (great music and video store) on St. Mark's Place, which is having a closing sale until January. (It's 55,000 volume film collection is up for grabs.) Unfortunately, we didn't find any movies we were dying to buy.
But going down to St. Mark's wasn't a waste of time; I got to introduce Kåre to the fried awesomeness that is BBQ Chicken. It's not barbecue chicken; BBQ stands for "Best of the Best Quality." The chain originates from South Korea so they can take whatever liberties they want with the English language. Besides that BBQ makes my favorite fried chicken in the city, I knew that the fried chicken would still be crispy and juicy long after being cooked, like after being dragged it to the subway, on the subway to Williamsburg, and on the walk home from the subway.
It may have cooled down by the time I finally got it out onto the living room table, but just as I predicted, the skin was still crispy and the meat, still juicy. Even the soggy waffle fries weren't bad. Mashed potatoes were of the goopy, far-removed-from-a-real-tuber variety, but the biscuit was a soft, buttery chunk of wheat-based heaven.
We ended the night by watching Chungking Express (given to me by Colin a few months ago). And there was also this:
Ezra, Tristan's awesome friend who was visiting from Oberlin, showed us his plush toy stacking skills. From top to bottom: Little Manatee, Jerome (kapibara-san), Manatee, and Giant Manatee.
It's non-stop, intellectual, skill-building action at the 'Boppy household, I tell ya.
Kåre Week, Day 2 (Part 2): Lower Manhattan Tour, Bubble Tea, and Sonia Rose
Kåre Week, Day 2 (Part 1): Freakin' Sweet Lunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Riding the Staten Island Ferry
Kåre Week, Day 1: Falafels at Taim
Fried Chicken: A Prelude to Pizza
Kim's Video & Music
6 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10003