BLT Burger, NYC, Jenn:
Since my NYU friends had found out about my burger wars, I decided to enlist them to help me find the city's best burger. With high hopes after reading about Spotted Pig's burger with blue cheese, we headed out to meet up for a post-work burgerfest.
Sad to say, the wait of approximately 3 hrs was more than our hungry stomachs could handle so Steve saved the day by recommending BLT Burger, calling ahead while we walked to place our names on the list. Known for their "gourmet" yet casual burgers, BLT Burger would hopefully not disappoint.
We arrived to the crowded restaurant and our party of 6 had to wait by the doorway, crammed between the hostess stand and the bar. Despite Steve calling ahead and our 15 min walk to the restaurant we still waited about 30 min for a table on a Thursday night. Needless to say, by the time we were seated, having stared at the menu for the past 30 mins, I was starving!
I ordered the place's namesake, the BLT Burger, which is a 7oz certified angus beef (CAB) burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and BLT Burger sauce, medium rare, with blue cheese ($11 + $1 for cheese). Other BLT Burgers were ordered, as well as the Tex-Mex Burger, Salmon Burger, and Veggie Burger. We added some sides of skinny fries, waffle fries, and onion rings.
While listening to a soothing mix of oldies and 90s hits, we all enjoyed the atmosphere - a mirrored wall with the menu hand-written, today's specials on a board along the side, cozy booths and tables (well for some of my dining companions the set-up was a little overly crowded) and the sophisticated yet kitschy touches of decor like a steer's head and other western items on the walls.
Our burgers arrived quickly and we all immediately noted the small portion of bacon on the signature BLT Burgers - two sad little pieces rather than slices. Despite this, the burgers from a taste perspective were solid - juicy, the tomato and lettuce fresh, and for me the blue cheese added a nice bite to my patty. Also, BLT cooked mine to a light pink color, a little more cooked than I like my burgers but not bad considering there were six of us and each ordered different items and degree of rareness.
Darren, who ate the salmon burger, was happy although perhaps it didn't justify its $11 price tag. Pit enjoyed his veggie burger due to its falafel-patty, instead of a typical bean or soy based patty and its onion roll ($7). Travis' Tex-Mex burger was more flavorful than the BLT Burger, although the heat from the jalapenos and jack cheese was not very prominent due to the slathering of avocado, mild salsa, and sour cream.
The onion rings were disappointing - mostly batter and on the sweeter side, though probably due to the combination of a sweet batter and the vidalia onions used ($5). The skinny fries, thinly cut french fries, were crunchy and salty, and the waffle fries, while a bit soggy and greasy, were very satisfying with their overall flavor (both fries, $4).
Post burgers I was tempted enough to order one of BLT's milkshakes - the Mocha Mudslide ($7), made of coffee ice cream, crushed and whole oreo cookies with a whipped cream top. Delicious. Easily my favorite part of the meal - it was thick, the cookies were nicely blended into the ice cream, and the combination of the bitter coffee with the sweet cookies and whipped cream made for a perfect balance of sweetness. The cookies also lent a bit of texture in the back end of every sip. I would warrant even better than Shake Shack's custard shakes (blasphemy I know!)
Overall, BLT is a solid burger joint if you're ok with spending about $25 with tip and tax and you're looking for a standard burger, fries, and an outstanding milkshake. Best burger in the city? No, but the atmosphere and menu options make it a little more appealing - the idea of a kobe burger and another Mocha Mudslide might just bring me back a second time around.
Elevation Burger, NoVa, Ariel & Malia's parents:
Shortly after we sat down, one of the employees called out “Dave” and presented my husband with his shake, a rather thick concoction served with a large straw and spoon. Dave thought the shake was very tasty.
A few minutes later, Dave’s name was called once more and he was presented with a large rectangular baking dish filled with our hamburgers and the fries. We didn’t realize that the salads were in the self-serve refrigerator with the bottled water and other beverages, so Dave had to go back and pick up the side salad, a minor inconvenience.
Alright, now for our evaluation of Elevation burgers: the burgers were juicy even though they were cooked well-done and the cheese, real cheddar, was better than what is served at a fast food restaurant. My cheeseburger consisted of one patty topped with cheese, while Dave’s Elevation burger was made up of two patties topped with cheese. I dressed my cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, raw sweet onions, and hot pepper relish. Dave topped his Elevation cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, caramelized onions and ketchup. The toppings are similar to what you can select at Five Guys, except at Five Guys you can request raw jalapeno peppers, my favorite. Dave felt that the burgers were superior to those served at Five Guys, as they were juicy. Our one criticism of the hamburgers is the insubstantial buns on which they are served. Mine sort of disintegrated while I was trying to eat my burger. The buns aren’t hardy enough to contain the burgers and assorted toppings.
Frankly, the hamburgers were filling enough for me, but we wanted to try out some of the other food that we ordered. The fries were great, not too greasy and had a very authentic potato taste. My one criticism of them was that they weren’t super crispy. Dave definitely liked the fries better than those served at Five Guys because they weren’t greasy. At Five Guys, the potatoes are prepared in peanut oil; while at Elevation Burger, they are prepared in olive oil. The side salad came in a small plastic container and consisted of chopped Romaine lettuce and a tomato wedge. The lettuce was very green and crisp and the tomato wedge was fresh. I tried the roasted balsamic dressing which was quite good. The small chocolate chip cookies were a disappointment. Dave thought they had a decent flavor, but a grainy consistency. I was not a fan.
Elevation Burger is a convenient place to stop for an above-average hamburger. The burgers are made with 100% organic free range beef, so that might explain the steeper cost of the meal. Elevation Burger also serves vegetable burgers as an option for vegetarians. If they served raw jalapenos as a topping, I might be tempted to go there more often. But right now, I am thinking of the teriyaki hamburgers my mother used to make and thinking that one of those topped with some raw jalapeno slices and some chopped pineapple would really be worth the cardiovascular risk that such a meal would entail.