I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Minetta Tavern- We are not worthy of the burger

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: If the Black Label burger had an entrance song, it would be Jay’s Public Service Announcement.

I joke about foods that are game changers, but the black label burger at Minetta Tavern is the epitome of a game changer, like Steve Jobs, wrapping things in bacon or Koreans playing StarCraft. This is the kind of burgers that ruin other burgers for you for you, and all other burgers seem pedestrian, I know some will disagree with me on this, but I guarantee this is a burger that you will not be forgetting. For my birthday this year, I decided to go and see if the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern is truly the best burger in New York and in not, the world.

tl:dr- Yes, yes it is.

One thing that McNally restaurants has going for them, is that they are able to transform a space into some place entirely different like Balthazar is a French Bistro, Minetta Tavern takes you back in time to a speakeasy Americana joint that you would expect Sinatra and Ratpack Co. would be eating well into the night. The place is constantly busy and thankfully, I snagged an impossible reservation and allowed me to forgo the 45 minute wait time at 6pm, an hour after they opened for dinner service. More burger and then some after the jump!

Bone Marrow
The food is heavily meat-based and a menu that is similar to a steakhouse. Though the meat entries were tempting, I was there this time for one thing, the Black Label Burger and also the Bone Marrow starter, you know something light and to start off with and plus marrow is great for you!
The bone marrow starter is roasted and served with crispy slices of toast and red wine shallot marmalade. The dish is unapologetically primal with slabs of split bones on a plate. I pretty sure if violence ensued in the restaurant, easily, discarded bones could easily be used as a weapon. The Bone marrow is basically meat butter, and the sweet red wine shallots were a great compliment to the marrow. 

My sister had the special, the Monkfish with chanterelle mushrooms, she passed on the burger because she had it before and also her thirst for red meat is not as strong as mine. The Monkfish was a great example of the versatile chefs that deliver food with great execution. The fish was cooked perfectly and the mushrooms brought a great earthiness, making this a faux surf and turf type of dish. 

Black Label Burger
The main event for me was the Black Label Burger. Before a the burger is brought out, a bottle of ketchup was dropped off at the table and it was a sign of subtle hostility, daring people to deface the burger with the ketchup. The first thing to mention is the price tag: 26 dollars. Though there are more expensive burgers out there, however their price tags have the inclusion of such additions of truffles or foie and in other cases Wagu or Kobe beef or all of the above. The Black Label burger does not have any of the fore mentioned ingredients which are a turn off for many but it would be a mistake on your part. The meat is not Wagu or Kobe but a secret Pat LaFrieda dry aged blend. The ratio and secret is a closely guarded secret like the nuclear football and the popularity of the Kardasians. The cuts that are confirmed are that there is ribeye and brisket in the burger but other than that, if you want the formula to the burger, you may have to go Liam Nelson Taken style on someone. The burger looks simple enough, it is served on a simple brioche bun from Balthazar and topped with some caramelized onions and that’s it. To the uninitiated, you would expect there to be a lot more of bells and whistles to this burger, like literally, bells and whistles and sparklers for the price tag, first bite, you find out that the price tag is justifiable. 

Perfect cooked patty

After the first bite, you need to take a break and just let our taste buds bask in the sheer awesomeness of this burger. Everything is perfectly balanced and synced. The ratio between bun and burger is perfect, the burger is cooked to a perfect medium rare (usually I go rare, but the chefs here say to do medium-rare so that’s what I did). The cheese is not needed at all and the caramelized onions offer on point acidity. The Black Label is ethereal and overwhelms your brain and palate with the flavor of dry aging, that musky, mineral almost blue cheese like flavors. This burger was the epitome of flawless execution. The heaping pile of shoestring fries were worthy to served on the side with burger with its crisp exterior and creamy interior. I suggest going Frenchie with these fries and eating it with mayo.
The burger was without hesitation, one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. The remarkable thing about this is that the burger is execution and the use of a great product. People scoff at this burger because it is not using Wagu or Kobe or some other expensive meat, but I suspect most of these people never even had that caliber of meat and to even use that kind of cattle would ruin the burger. There is a notion that expensive ingredients equals good eating which is certainly not true and Minetta easy dispels this.  If you want splurge and go over the top, do not go to Minetta Tavern, there are other places you can go to that will do it for you, but if you want to eat well and taste something remarkable, head on over.  Do not add cheese and get the burger medium rare, as the chef says to get it, he knows more than you.

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St 
New York, 10012

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