Best of: Dishes at NJ restaurants in 2006
Sammy's Ye Old Cider Mill: Mendham, NJ

Blue Smoke, NYC: the burger

Blue Smoke's (NYC) burger, time and time again, gets dissed in various burger "round-ups" (not on that one) and on blogs (here, though) and just about anywhere that people discuss burgers.  So much so that each time I read about someone's thoughts on what is one of my favorite burgers I think "surely this person is going to love it.  surely."  And I'm pretty much always wrong.

My question is: are these people high?  Blue Smoke's burger is certainly one of the best restaurant burgers in NYC.  I'm sticking to that opinion regardless of what the rest of the world says.

A quick primer on burgers:

You've got a handful of variables that need to come together to make a great burger:

  • The flavor of the meat (probably the most important)
  • Juiciness (gotta be juicy)
  • The bun (it should actually taste good)
  • The burger-to-bun ratio (not too much of either)
  • The seasoning (salt and pepper)
  • The taste/amount of the cheese (applicable to cheeseburgers only, but you knew that)
  • The cooking method (you do want some char, don't you?)

Your average place screws up, oh, let's say about 6 of those 7 points, on their best day. Swing-and-a-miss.  A whiff.  Blue Smoke is one of the few restaurants that knocks them all out of the park.

So why is it that I'm seemingly one of the few burger-lovers who acknowledges this burger?

The blackeyedpig has an interesting theory that might help explain why people oftentimes don't sing the praises about this clearly superior burger.  He calls it the "greasy spoon bias," which states, I think, that most burger aficionados tend to go for the greasy-spoon type burger more than the "burger at a nice restaurant" burger.  I think there's something to that.  At the very least it helps explain why Blue Smoke's burger gets so little rispeck.

But perhaps I have my own biases.  I, I will admit, prefer to sit at a bar and eat a burger (no preference for cloth or paper napkins, however).  I, I will admit, prefer to wash down a burger with a glass of red wine, rather than beer, soda, or water.  Don't get me wrong, I've been known to stand in line at Shake Shack for their sloppy roadside stand burger (hmm, come to think of it they have wine there and I usually get a bottle), but given the choice I'll usually go to Blue Smoke, where my wine and bar desires are sated.  It's just so comfy there.

I could go on and talk about how good the fries are (I'd be lying*), or mention the great selection of beers, or the excellent bartenders, or all of the other pluses that come built in to any experience over which Danny Meyer is watching, but I'll save that for another time.  What I want to say here and now is that the Blue Smoke burger really really is good.  I swear. 

* See comment below.  The fries are indeed quite good now.

Blue Smoke : 116 East 27th (Lex/Park) : New York, NY : 212.447.7733