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The Early Word on the Donut Shaped Burgers at 4 Food

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4 Food, a high-tech heavy, social media oriented fast food restaurant in Midtown opened recently to the public. They certainly don't lack for gimmicks with their customizable burgers with holes in them (it's like a donut but with ground beef!) and a giant leaderboard above the counter that displays check-ins and tweets. Gimmicks are fun and all but in the end, it comes down to the food. Does 4Food deliver? To the early word:

The "Confusing But Appetizing" News: Yelper Nicole P. is slightly bewildered by the way they operate. "Upon entering, I was slightly confused. There are no physical menus to hold in your hand & you have to look up at screen above the cashiers, which is on a time interval. That gets a little annoying when you're trying to figure out what to eat & it keeps changing. That was one of my pet peeves." Fortunately, she had help from the cashiers, who helped her figure out what she wanted. It looks like the cashiers picked a winner for her. "I must say that the sandwich is very appetizing. The way it is also constructed is very smart. The pork patty with the empty center allows for the boiled egg to stay perfectly in place while eating. I appreciated this little detail. The patty was also well seasoned & juicy. The pancetta isn't salty & the cheddar adds a nice after taste in your mouth that makes you want to take another bite." [Yelp]

The "Not A Fan" News: Yelper Rich S. is not a fan - not at all. He doesn't like the food: "I order a lamb skewer and it was dry, TINY and expensive for $7. I also ordered coconut rice and enadamame with sea salt. Coconut rice looked like it was just slopped into the box and the endamame didn't have sea salt on it. It was just plain." Also, he doesn't like the space: "The place looks like a WWII bunker. I don't even know why they have bleacher style seating in front of the extremely bright scoreboard screen. You can't see anything and because it's so bright you just want to look away. And the basement, where most of the seating is, looks and feels as dark as a dungeon." He sums it up with a very simple "I won't be coming back." [Yelp]

The "Too Many Choices = Risky Ordering" News: The Wandering Eater doesn't jive with the "healthy fast food" concept, and learns the hard way that certain toppings don't belong together on a burger: "My pork burger (with the supposed price of $5.50) was on the dry side. I think they took out a lot of the fat prior to cooking, overcooked the poor patty, or it’s me who took too long taking photos of the food...The only time it’s not so dry is when I added my sweet chili sauce into the burger. A personal lesson to myself, perhaps, not to add fontina with brussels sprouts and panchetta since I barely tasted the latter two as it overpowered everything." [The Wandering Eater]

The "Lackluster Breakfast" News: And in the comments section of that Wandering Eater post, one Nancy S. complains about her breakfast sandwich: "I was lured in this AM for breakfast with a $5 off coupon, resulting in a tab of $.57. Coffee (a latte) was very good. The rest (the most basic egg sandwich I could find on the menu, as I am not in the mood for chili in the middle of my eggs at 8:30am) was a dry-ish bagel, an egg ring which they filled with carmelized onions, some pancetta, and a disgusting amount of ketchup. It tasted like a dry bagel egg white sandwich with loads of ketchup. I can do better at many a local deli for a breakfast sandwich, both price and taste. Staff was very nice, food cooked to order, but I don’t have a sense that this is going to last?" [The Wandering Eater]

The "Great Condiments" News: High/Low Food/Drink has similar issues choosing toppings, but is impressed by the selection of sauces on offer: "We ordered our condiments on the side: organic ketchup, hummus, guacamole, salsa verde, horseradish cream and tzatziki sauce. I liked the ketchup because it tasted like, well, ketchup. My husband liked the guacamole with a citrus tang and the savory coarse hummus. He would've preferred a chunkier salsa verde. The horseradish cream and tzatziki were both really mild. We like spicy and strong sauces and felt that these ones would get lost in the burger. I did appreciate the eclectic, international choices instead of the usual ketchup, mustard, and relish." [HLFD]

The "Veritable Shitshow" News: Midtown Lunch live blogged the opening, and ultimately had this to take away: "Either way, consider this your friendly ML PSA? if you don’t get that much time for lunch, it might be worth waiting a little longer for these guys to get everything sorted out before heading over to try 4Food." [ML]

The Twitterific News: Ty Sullivan is just plain upset, "$10 for this? Burger was tiny & $3 for a lil scoop of rice that was dry! Nope. 1 shot". Beth Lind experienced the lunch rush madness, "Crazy scene. Cool concept but probably need to get actual food elsewhere". As did Andrew Barovick, "Standing in line at 4food. 4 more than half hour. Crowd is restless. Room is loud. Is it all worth it?". However, you can count Lindsay Baish as an ardent supporter, "Yeah, I think 4food is the coolest thing to hit food since food."
—Gary Wong and Zachary Feldman


Madison Ave. and 40th St., New York, NY