The Sunburnt Cow
137 Avenue C, New York NY 10009 (map);212-529-0005; thesunburntcow.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: The meat is okay, but...ooh, there's a fried egg on it!
Want Fries with That? They come with medium-cut fries. Not memorably great, but perfectly fine as crispy, salted carb sticks.
Price: All burgers, $10
Fried eggs enhance the deliciousness of many typically egg-less, but already delicious foods. Shove it on a hot dog! Plop it on a pizza! Add it to beef noodle soup! Put it on rice! And please, put it on a burger.
Fried eggs aren't the most rare burger topping, but they're not as prevalent as other ones that I find less worthy, such as bacon (yeah, I'm not a fan of bacon on my burgers; please don't hate me). What is this monstrosity? Australia and New Zealand know what I'm talking about: The humble fried egg is just one component of what they call "the lot," the mass of burger toppings that usually consists of tomato, lettuce, onion, fried egg, beet, bacon, pineapple, and cheese. While I usually shy away from too many toppings, we're not talking about mozarella sticks, marinara sauce, and pepperoni here. "The lot" is a more harmonious group of toppings.
I had my first taste of the Australian burger last week when a friend and I went to The Sunburnt Cow to split a burger and veggie burger with the lot.
The Burger with the Lot consists of a grilled 5-ounce patty on a plain white bun with the aforementioned tower of toppings: from top to bottom, lettuce, tomato, thick slices of beet, fried egg, cheese, fried onions, pineapple, and bacon strips. The meat was medium rare as requested, and while moist was not juicy. My favorite toppings were the beet, pineapple, and fried egg—the beet and pineapple added some sweetness and moisture, and the egg, although not oozing with yolky goodness, still provided that flavor-enhancing, unobtrusive layer of protein and fat that only unborn chickens can bring. The only topping I'd want to omit is the bacon—I thought it overpowered the beef with porcine smokiness.
I initially thought that the patty was too small for the toppings, but I liked the size of the burger overall: It was just right, not some half-pound-plus behemoth. Maybe I need to eat more Australian burgers to get used to the burger-to-toppings ratio. The toppings are what stand out, not the meat, although a juicier patty with more char would make it better.
The Vego Burger was like the regular burger but with a juicy marinated portabello mushroom cap instead of beef, and sans bacon. Like the regular burger, the toppings seemed to overwhelm the mushroom base, but instead of looking at it as a mushroom burger with toppings, it's more like a mushroom/fried egg/beet/pineapple sandwich, which is awesome even if you're not restricted to vegetarian choices.
I wouldn't go out of my way to eat at the Sunburnt Cow, but I did have an enjoyable dinner (capped off with sticky date pudding). The restaurant/bar was a warm and cozy haven on a miserably cold and rainy night, made even warmer by the friendly Australian waiter.