Copeland in Morristown, NJ: the burger
July 20, 2006
Looking at my blog here, it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that all I do is think about hamburgers and, on top of that, eat a whole lot of them. The truth is, I don't eat all that many hamburgers, but I do try to eat a lot of good hamburgers. Point being, I don't like wasting a burger meal on a crappy hamburger. Rest assured there are more crappy burgers than good burgers, so this isn't a very simple task. It's a challenge. A pursuit. So yeah, I spend a lot of time thinking about hamburgers. But not as much time eating burgers as you might think.
Which brings me to the burger at Copeland in Mo-town (which I've had 3 times in the last 2 months).
Dbroc over on blackeyedpig turned me on to the burger at the bar at Copeland. Obviously I had my suspicions. I mean, it's a hotel restaurant in the Jersey burbs. What are the odds that anything exceptional is happening here, much less an exceptional burger. So Dbroc essentially laid down the challenge: he would meet me for dinner at the bar where I'd have the burger, and if I didn't think it was an excellent burger he would, well, come to think of it I don't think he made any promises like "I'll buy your burger", or, "the first round's on me." But he should have. But I won't get into that now. Not that any of that would have mattered, because Dbroc was right: it is, in fact, a very very good burger. I'd say it borders on excellent.
The burger is billed as "Wagyu". Wagyu cows make for some good eatin (that's the breed the Japanese use for their Kobe beef), so they're off to a good start. This burger is thick, juicy, tender, and has a nice char. It's served on brioche, which as far as I can tell these days means any bread that is fortified with butter somehow (that's a good thing). Some most excellent twice-cooked fries come in a paper cone, just as they should. Copeland also serves a relatively reasonable tomato slice when it can. Not your average throw-away tomato slice. That's just one of the little details that Copeland gets right when it tries. Three times I've ordered the burger medium-rare, and three times it came out medium-rare. That's a pretty damned good average.
The bar is very conducive to bar dining (and bar dining is almost always preferable). They have a nice cocktail list which includes some really interesting concoctions. I'm not one for cocktails, but I'm starting to appreciate them (as people tend to do when they get older), and this list is pretty interesting to my novice eye. Uses of ginger and bitters and mint and stuff like that. Food stuff. I like food in my drinks.
Unfortunately bar dining at Copeland comes with downsides. It's a hotel bar and as such its customers are transient by nature. The bartenders (on the whole, but not all of them) don't seem to care too much about you or your experience. They don't clean up much after people leave. They're often overwhelmed working the large bar, the bar lounge area, and the service bar. Bottom line is that it's very easy to get ignored, unless you're charming (like me and Dbroc) or a big tipper (not so much like Dbroc).
I've not explored much of the menu (it's hard to not order the burger), but what I've had has been quite decent (a bit pricey, maybe). A lobster salad was quite good, heirloom tomato salad was quite good, the tuna tartar was quite good. You get the idea.
The bar fills up with an after-work crowd. Wait until 8 pm, when most of them scatter, get on down to Mo-town, and get yourself one of the best burgers in north Jersey.
Copeland : 2 Whippany Rd : Morristown, NJ : 973.451.2619