Sunday, March 08, 2009

Big Apple Burger Banter – The Perfect Pint

My culinary compatriots, “Ms. Zany” and “Mad Me-Shell” are at it again. One day while I’m not paying attention they concoct a scheme to visit and rate the best burger joints in our midtown office neighborhood. I’ve been on a month-long peanut butter and fluff kick for lunch, so it sounds like a good idea to me.

Our colleague “Splint McCullough” chimes in from his secret bunker somewhere in the mid-Atlantic region. He’s in a snarky mood, probably because he’s missing all the fun, and actually tells Mad Me-Shell that he thinks I’m a “burger novice.”

I immediately ping him and take issue with his rude remark. Splint is unrepentant. “Until you’ve rolled out of bed at 2 a.m. to satisfy your burger craving, I stand by my proclamation.”

Ms. Zany has to bow out of our maiden voyage since she has her nose to the grindstone. We consider rescheduling but in the end, our hunger overpowers our better judgment and we decide to forge ahead without her, our growling stomachs drowning out her words of protest. She is not happy we’ve left her behind, and it is likely we will pay for this transgression.

For some inexplicable reason, I’m craving a lamb burger. Mad Me-Shell does her Oracle imitation and pulls up the site “Menupages” on her laptop. Within seconds, she has located every lamb burger available within a 20 block radius. Ain’t the Internet grand? We choose “The Perfect Pint Public House” as our destination, for convenience, and because the tzatziki sauce on the lamb burger sounds intriguing. The thought of visiting “The 5 Napkin Burger” on 9th Avenue does grab us for a moment of messy, delirious decadence but practicality wins out. Ninth Avenue is too far away.

On the walk down 6th Avenue, I discover that Mad Me-Shell views burgers as a “functional food.”

“I do it for medicinal reasons, not because I like burgers so much,” she explains in pragmatic terms. “I have an iron deficiency.”

For just a moment, I wonder if this lunch might be covered under our employee health plan.

The Perfect Pint Public House is located at 123 W. 45th Street, and resembles a traditional pub. There is a mammoth pint of ale hanging above the front door. I’m a sucker for any establishment with a big goofy sign out front, so I’m getting good vibes already.

Inside, we take our seats in the upstairs dining room and establish our game plan. It is a clean-cut, well-groomed midtown crowd, and the staff has nice lilting Irish accents. The décor is spotless and comfortable – kind of a cross between a well-lit fern bar and a fine dining establishment. The room is decked out in green shamrocks in anticipation of St. Patty’s Day.

We place our orders. Mad Me-Shell thinks we should do a bit of sampling to experience the traditional and the adventurous. In addition to the The Incredible Lamb Burger, laced with fresh herbs and spices, pepper jack cheese and tzatziki sauce, we order The Perfect Pint Burger, a half pound of certified angus beef topped with white cheddar and apple smoked bacon. She’s also an advocate of cutting burgers in half, something she’s dubbed “the double-handed move.” Besides the obvious benefits of sharing, “It’s easier to eat, and it allows you to see how well-done the meat is so you can judge how juicy it’s going to be before you eat it.”

I get the sense I’m in the presence of a pro, so I probe further on Mad Me-Shell’s culinary views. “I would say my overall philosophy is pretty classic," she explains. "I do like to try new things, but I do enjoy a little Southern or redneck twist on things. That’s where my heavy use of bourbon, whisky and deer meat comes in handy.”

So, she’s a health nut, and a connoisseur.

We develop an iron-clad rating system on the fly. No sense putting too much energy into it. We’d rather reserve that for eating the burgers. We agree to rate the establishment on five key factors: Speed, Presentation, Originality, Flavor, and Afternoon Nap Quotient. Each will be scored 1 to 4, with a rating of 4 inspiring the ultimate in “Burger Banter.”

Meanwhile, Mad Me-Shell’s inner Iron Chef Judge is beginning to emerge. “A burger has to have the right blend of meat,” she announces. “I like to make sure, obviously, it is fresh meat, good flavoring, and cooked-well. It has to have a good meat-to-bun ratio and the toppings on it have to compliment the meat, not overpower it.”

Our food quickly arrives, beautifully plated on large rectangular white trays, each tucked within glossy buns and paired with a gorgeous stack of fries, so the Perfect Pint immediately gets high marks for Speed and Presentation.

We take a moment to admire the spread.

“I like that they paired the Lamb Burger with the tzatziki sauce,” says Mad Me-Shell. “I think it is going to be a fairly traditional pairing. I’ve got good thoughts about it.”

“Incredible” is a pretty apt description. The Lamb Burger is a towering source of iron, with lively seasonings infused throughout the meat.

“It’s incredibly flavorful and really lean,” says Mad Me-Shell. “It does have a real kick in it. Complex flavors for a burger. Given our rating system, I’m going to definitely give this one a four. It’s unique and it really punches the taste buds.”

Mad Me-Shell is struggling a bit with the architectural integrity of the Perfect Pint Burger. “It seems to be staying together well, despite the size,” she says “It’s really juicy and flavorful, I would say the only problem right now, is there’s so much bacon, it increases the size and it’s making it a little difficult to eat even two handed, so it’s gonna be a challenge. The bacon is phenomenal. It’s perfectly-cooked, really rich and smoky.” Our overall Big Apple Burger Banter results for The Perfect Pint: Speed – 4, Presentation – 3, Originality – 4, Flavor – 4, Afternoon Nap Quotient – 3.5. Total Score: 3.7

By about 3:00 p.m., the Afternoon Nap Quotient has now become dominant and we are forced to ratchet up our total score for The Perfect Pint.

Zany has already put another burger excursion on our calendar. After all, we have a public service to perform, and Mad Me-Shell needs to keep up her strength.

©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


La Cuisine d'Helene said...

That's a big plate. Look's like a fun place to go for lunch.

Anonymous said...

That looks absolutely delicious...bacon and all!ha..ha..I love that you included an afternoon nap quotient!

Anonymous said...

Next time I'm in your neighborhood, may I come along? This sounds like so much fun!

Julia said...

I love the nap quotient rating... This is always something I need to factor in at lunch. Sounds like a great afternoon!

Anonymous said...

My mouth is already watering just thinking of our next burgers!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Great photos. I would need a nap after that gorgeous burger. Glad you included the fries - a burger isn't a burger without the fries.

Diana Leto said...

OMG! This place sounded so good that I had to go and try it for myself!
I was saying to my friend Asha that I was having a Burger craving last night and she asked were I wanted to go. I knew immediately that I wanted to try this place after reading your story!
That Lamb Burger IS incredible!
And you were right about all those rating, especially the nap quotient.

Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

Your food discussed looks excellent.

I like best burger talk.

Russ via Blogger next blog