That Burger Tent
At Artists & Fleas, 70 North 7th Street, Brooklyn NY 11211 (map); thatburgertent.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Very good 4-ounce, griddled La Frieda–beef burgers that owe a nod to Shake Shack. Very well seasoned, just juicy enough. My favorite is the signature That Burger, which comes with griddled fresh jalapenos. A great touch
Want Fries with That? No fries here, but Sun Chips and Cheez-Its are available ($1)
Price: That Burger; $5; The Jersey; $5
Notes: Open Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until sold out
That Burger Tent might be something you either roll your eyes at or go gaga for, depending on your tolerance for trends. Let's count 'em: 1) burgers 2) Pat La Frieda burgers 3) pop-up food vendor 4) located at a hipster flea market.
But even the most cynical burger-eater out there would have to give it up for burgermeister Dan Petersen's little burger operation, located just outside Williamsburg's Artists & Fleas on North 7th Street, near East River State Park. These burgers are all that.
Petersen first pitched his tent outside A&F on September 18, 2010 (National Cheeseburger Day), serving just two burgers and only working Saturdays. This year, he's expanded his menu to seven beef-based burgers and four portobello-mushroom burgers—and he's open on Sundays, too.
Petersen cooks his 4-ounce burgers, a custom blend of La Frieda beef, on a portable propane-fueled flat-top griddle. Though the patties are preformed and thus don't necessarily lend themselves to the "smash technique," Petersen manages to get a good sear on them anyway—providing satisfying bites of burnished, crisp beef that's just salty enough.
The signature burger, dubbed That Burger ($5) is topped with griddled fresh jalapeños and onions and American cheese, all nestled into a soft, moist Martin's potato roll. Yes, the burgers at this tent owe a nod to the Shake Shack. The sautéed jalapeños are a beautiful touch, softened and a little smoky from their time on the flat top. They add a Goldilocks amount of heat to the sandwich.
The Jersey ($5) is pretty much your classic cheeseburger—onions, pickles, American cheese. With the possible addition of a little yellow mustard, this is exactly how I usually take my burgers. Petersen tops the Jersey with hearty slices of sweet bread-and-butter pickles. Like the That Burger, the Jersey we tried on a recent Saturday was just juicy enough. Not dry but not sloppy juicy, and not greasy either, cooked somewhere around medium.
Of the two, the one that really stays with me is the signature That Burger. I think griddled jalapeños may become my craveworthy burger topping of 2011.
That Burger Tent is conveniently located about a block away from East River State Park, which makes a nice dining area, given that there are no eating facilities outside Artists & Fleas. And come June, East River ferry service will start, giving Manhattanites an easier way to get to the area (which will also be home to the Brooklyn Fleas upcoming "all-food bonanza," Smorgasburg).
If you do visit That Burger Tent, try to get there on the early side. Petersen starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 7 p.m., or until sold out. And once the weather starts cooperating, I'm sure he'll sell out quickly.