Monday, May 7, 2007

National Burger Month Day 7 - Keens Steakhouse burger or Lessons in how to make something worse than the sum of it's parts.

Take some dry aged, USDA prime beef and grind it in to a coarse chuck so that the beef loses it's natural tenderness but not enough to breakdown the beef so that it will melt in ones mouth. Next take a puffy, crusty seeded roll that would be exquisite slathered in fresh dairy butter and served along side a salad. Then take some wonderfully fresh, crispy and vibrant Bibb lettuce and a thick juicy slice of mild and sweet Vidalia onion. Combine all of the above. You get this:

A burger that is impossible to eat with anything less than three hands. While the ingredients are of the highest quality and the grill chars the beef beautifully the combination just does not work. A burger that is taller than it is wide is hard to eat when it is this size. Because the roll is so hard and unforgiving the patty tends to slide around on the onion and lettuce making for a frustrating experience. The beef could also be ground a tad finer but the real culprit here is the roll, a soft generic burger roll would form itself around the patty nicely and allow one to enjoy the succulent meat.

So, Keen's has managed to reverse what makes the hamburger so appealing - namely that it they are greater than the some of their parts. The Keens burger is just the opposite. It is unfortunate because Keens is one of my favorite restaurants, their Prime Rib is amongst the top two or three in the city and their steaks are not far behind. It is one of the last places that serves mutton and it is a year older than Peter Luger, so it has some real history. I recommend you go there for everything but the burger.

Keens Steakhouse
72 W. 36th St.
(bet. 5th & 6th Aves.)
Manhattan, NY

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