Those were the words that flew out of my mouth after the first bite. Why? Because I had just bitten into a burger that was damned near perfect.
"Well that's just ridiculous" you say.
Could be ridiculous I suppose. In fact it was ridiculous.
BUCU (BUrger CUpcake) is serving one of my favorite styles of burger. A burger in the fast-food style, or roadside stand style: a 4-ish ounce patty cooked on a flat top to get a good crust, an appropriately sized soft bun, simple cheese melted on top. For reference, you can also find this style at Smashburger (I love), In-and-Out (I'm never impressed), Bobby's Burger Palace (I like), Shake Shack (enjoy very much), Five Guys (putrid), and places of their ilk. But BUCU is doing it better. Orders of magnitude better.
The key here isn't the perfect bun-to-burger ratio, the deft hand with fresh toppings, both of which are important (and overlooked at most places). The key here is the beef. Without great beef, you cannot have a great burger. You can have a good burger. You can have an acceptable burger. But you cannot have an exceptional burger. BUCU is exceptional.
From what they tell us, their beef comes from the now very famous Pat LaFrieda butcher. These are the guys who have been getting play for a few years now from burger lovers all around the NY metro area. They supply the meat used for the Minetta Tavern Black Label burger (more on that let-down later). They are truly the darlings of the meat-eating scene. To a point where it's almost sickening. Enough already!
I thought the same thing you do: a lot of hype, and they probably don't deliver. I mean honestly, it seems that every new place that pops up claims that they are getting their beef from LaFrieda, and really, can they possibly deliver the goods? Well whatever LaFrieda is delivering to BUCU is truly tremendous.
Back to those first words: "H*ly sh*t"
It takes a lot to get a positive reaction out of me, especially in matters of meat. This beef immediately impressed me. Knocked me over. Wowed me. It hit me as sweet, beefy, and I know I'm probably wrong but was that a hint of dry-aging in there? Probably not. But this is the way a burger should taste. None of this washed out flavorless beef that we're all so accustomed to. This isn't just how a fast food burger should be done. This is how a restaurant burger should be done.
After the first bite I spent the next 30 seconds sniffing the damned thing like a dog, savoring the beefy, sweet steam, while emailing the guy who told me that I have to try the place (he loved it, too...thanks Menton1) to tell him just how right he was. I had half a mind to get up and order a second. I may go back right now and do just that.
The only ground beef in this area that is near this is the stuff I get from Sal at Westwood Prime Meat. And that's saying something.
The fries were also good: crispy, and they seemed to be twice-cooked and fresh, rather than frozen.
Skip Smashburger, skip the Dutch House, certainly skip the Fireplace, skip AB&G, skip Bobby Flay's, skip to my Lou, skip whatever the hell you have to skip and then skip breakfast and get to Bucu at 11 am. Then go back at 3. And again later in the day.
Oh, and they have cupcakes, too. If they're half as good as the burger, get several.
I had a bunch of other nice stuff to say about this place, including the clean, industrial design, the order-then-they-bring-the-food-to-you routine, the 2 big flat screen TVs, the cool tunes, the free WiFi, the fact you don't have to deal with mall parking/traffic to pop in for a quick lunch, but I suspect my point has already been made.
BUCU Burger Bar and Bakery : 35 Plaza shopping center : Route 4 Westbound (right west of Spring Valley Rd) : 347.470.BUCU