Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Burger mania

There's a huge obsession with hamburgers lately, it's the sandwich hot topic. I wrote an essay on burgers for my food-writing class that detailed my ridiculous search for the best hamburger in my Brooklyn neighborhood. I came to the conclusion that the winner was served in the restaurant that used to be my apartment - Apartment 138. Yes, I am in the strangely unique position of being able to eat a hamburger in the exact same spot where I used to sleep. It was fun to research the article, (though attempting to sample three contenders in one day was particularly disgusting), and since I wrote it, I have tried several more burgers throughout the city.

Brgr, on Seventh Ave., was completely overpriced and disappointing. Small burgers, thoroughly unjuicy and dull. And not to make a joke that has surely been made a thousand times already, but what is it exactly they have against vowels? (I have a painting that belonged to my parents that was done by a man named William Copley, who signed his paintings CPLY. Another vowel-dropper. When I was a kid I thought that to be pretty radical, purposely losing the vowels from your name.)

Eater has been talking up the burger at Lure Fishbar in Soho. It was really satisfying, however, not sublime. But I walked out of Lure that night happy and excited to return. We had wonderful service: when one of the burgers arrived well beyond the requested medium rare, a platter of a half-dozen oysters was delivered to the table as an apology. It felt like a perfect place to take friends visiting from points out west - fashionable and Soho fabulous, but not snotty and clubby at all.

Today I had the burger at Schiller's on the LES. I still contend that the tuna burger is the thing to order there, if your taste runs towards protein betwen two pieces of bread. The french onion soup, with its crusty cheese topping and hot, perfectly oily broth, was far superior to the bland hamburger on its sad, cold bun. But wow, that wasabi-laced tuna burger always packs a flavborful punch.

My main question is: why is it so difficult to make a great burger at home? Every time I try, no matter how high-quality the ingredients or what I add to the meat, all my homemade burgers taste the same, time after time. Is it my lack of a real, greasy grill? Am I underseasoning the meat? Am I asking questions to the ether?...