Sommeliers are around food all day, but where do they head for a burger when they are off the clock? Eater checked in with several NYC sommeliers to find out their favorites.
Matt Stinton, Beverage Director of Hearth Restaurant and the Terroir Wine Bars: "I am in love with Bonnie's Grill's spiced black angus sirloin burger topped with jalapenos and loads of ketchup. I usually order it for pick-up and eat it in the afternoons at Terroir Park Slope (while it is closed of course!) with a Boylan's Cane Cola. It gets pretty messy but it's totally worth it."
Jeff Porter, Wine Director at Del Posto: "This is a tough one for me as I LOVE Burgers...after much thought and discussion with my wife...my partner in all food favorites...my favorite burger in the five boroughs is DuMont Burger. My love of burgers is based upon my Dad's style of burger-making which is a thick patty cooked medium rare with a big bun. I have never been a fan of the thin-pressed patties and the DuMont burger reminds me of the style of burger I grew up with, where I can see pink in the middle. I also really enjoy the simplicity: lettuce, tomato, onion. The final key to my perfect burger is the roll, and the sweet roll is one of my favorites. It has a great texture and mouth feel and holds all the goods of the burger in while I eat it. At DuMont Burger you have a choice of fries, onion rings, mixed greens or soup. The last two are complete throwaways if you are gonna go for a burger. Why go with salad or soup...that seems silly. I LOVE onion rings and I think DuMont does a great job on the yummy side."
Jordan Salcito, Wine Director of the Momofuku Group: "My go-to burger, my first-love of NYC burgers is and has always been the db Burger at Daniel Boulud's db Bistro Moderne. In addition to being the most exciting and glorious burger in history, db Bistro is nice and close to Momofuku Ma Peche, where I spend a lot of time. Braised short-ribs, foie gras, black truffles — Daniel has masterfully stuffed an exorbitant amount of deliciousness between two pillows of brioche. It's important to order the burger with pommes souffles, feathery potato whispers that are as compelling as the burger itself. In fact, sometimes I order that burger just so I can eat pommes souffles."
Michael Madrigale, Head Sommelier at Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud: "I grew up working in my grandfather's butcher shop and since I was the young scrub I was always given the worst jobs that no one else wanted to do. Washing out the "fat cans," cleaning out the "chicken box" and making boxes and boxes of hand-formed hamburger patties for hours on end. The residual trauma from all of this is that I've never really gone nuts for burgers. I like them well enough but wouldn't consider myself Mr. Cutlets. That said, the best hamburger I've had in NYC was from David Bouley's "Upstairs" that sadly closed shop a few years back. It was so delicious. He'd serve it on a toasted English muffin with caramelized onions and discs of French cucumber instead of pickles. That burger was an experience. Currently I like the simple and direct burger from Little Poland with a warm borscht chaser. I also like the turkey burger from Westville. It's served on the most delicious Portuguese roll which has the perfect chew and texture to support the burger. I love it with raw red onion, lettuce and Swiss cheese. I also like to mix a concoction of ketchup, brown mustard and a few shakes of tabasco and coat the bun with it. Then I'll wash it all down with a cold bottle of Pilsner. It works."
Morgan Harris, Sommelier at Corkbuzz Wine Studio: "I regularly enjoy a tasty Burger at Five Leaves in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg crossover zone in my hood. The burger is almost comical to hear it in description, but in reality, totally brilliant. About a third of a pound of high-quality burger chuck is seared to perfection, to this is added grilled pineapple, beets, and a fried egg. The warm brioche bun is glazed with a slathering of exotic harissa mayo. Lettuce, tomato, and red onion come on the side as optional additional toppings. If you go all-in, the burger's proportions are staggering. Abandon any hope of eating this burger without making a total mess. This is really the only downside of the burger — the fluffy brioche is completely compromised by the sheer mass of the burger combined with structure-eroding liquids: beef juice, egg yolk, and the harissa mayo. However, that being said, few things can surpass the melange of salty, perfectly-cooked beef, sweet pineapple, earthy beets, and the two-toned, yolk-harissa mayo sauce combo. Drink a Miller High Life, a perfect Negroni from their robust bar program, or a bottle of smoky Herve Souhaut Syrah from their very small but well-curated wine list."
Pascaline Lepeltier, Wine Director at Rouge Tomate: "My favorite place to eat a burger in NY is Back Forty East Village (way more than the Soho Location) – because the meat is ALWAYS really, really good and super well cooked, because the house-made ketchup is spicy, sweet, and sour, because the slightly toasted bread is good (and you know how the bread is crucial for the French) – add the super-high quality bacon, the rosemary fries, and that, straight to the point, is a perfect burger for me. To drink they always have a great beer selection – very recently I had the Brooklyn Brett Unlabeled with it (I think this is the right name, I did not take a picture?), and I discovered that hops, brett, roasted meat, and ketchup go very, very well together?. Brett, you are a friend ;)"
Thomas Pastuszak, Wine Director at The Nomad: "When I need to get my burger fix, I look to the ever-dependable Five Guys Burger & Fries and it's usually when I'm in relaxing in my hood in Brooklyn (Fort Greene), though there are plenty of locations around NYC which make it really convenient. As far as I'm concerned, the most satisfying burgers are those that are simple, delicious & cheap. Foie gras? Truffles? Sure, I love it, but not in my burger. I always get a double-patty bacon-cheddar burger with ketchup (keep it simple, no pickles, go America), some delicious peanut oil-fried fries to contribute to the flow of my arteries, and wash it down with a delicious (and slightly chilled) bottle of Giacomo Conterno Barbera d'Alba Cerretta; peppery & spicy, with oodles of juicy fruit & meat character to stand up to the skillet-cooked, deliciously-moist chuck beef. High-low pairing? Maybe so, but as far as I'm concerned that makes the wine & burger both better — and if I'm not taking the burger home with me, I'm not above paper-cupping some Conterno at the joint."
Bill Fitch, Wine Director of Vinegar Hill House and Hillside: "I am a fan of the Fritzl's burger. Insanely satisfying. Cheek and chuck meat. Paired, as almost all burgers must be for me, with my own particular Pet-Nat of choice, two Alka-Seltzers."
· All Wine Coverage on Eater [~ENY~]