214 Mulberry Street, New York NY 10012 (at Spring Street; map); 212-966-7366; balaboostanyc.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: How to improve a lamb burger: stuff it with creamy goat cheese. Mmm.
Want Fries With That? Comes with patatas bravas, but I'd rather get one of their salads on the side
Price: Lamburger, $15; crispy salad, $9 (lunch and brunch only)
Stuffing a burger with cheese doesn't do much to entice me, despite that stuffing other things with cheese is generally pretty awesome. The first time I had a cheese-stuffed burger at Good Dog in Philadelphia, the meat was a bit overcooked in order to reach inner-cheese-melting-point. My second cheese-stuffed burger experience at Whitmans in New York City was much better, but as much as I enjoyed it I still didn't prefer it over a regular cheese-on-top-of-patty burger.
But that was with beef burgers. At Balaboosta in Soho (previously reviewed at Serious Eats New York), I found a cheese-stuffed burger that I do like: their lamburger (as they call it on the menu, which makes me think I'm eating a burger made from an animal called "lam" instead of "lamb") stuffed with goat cheese. The burger features eight and a half ounces of Pat LaFrieda grass-fed lamb, stuffed with herbed Grand Reserve goat cheese, topped with caramelized onions on a grilled brioche bun from Il Forno, with thinly sliced housemade pickles and garlic aioli on the side.
The lamb had a bit of funk to go with its seasoning of salt, pepper, and cumin, but the funk wasn't overwhelming, and it went well with the sweet, melty onions and tang of the goat cheese that oozed into the coarse crevices. The result was a moist, not too heavy patty with a hit of creaminess in every bite. The soft bun held up well to the large patty and was in just the right proportion with the meat.
The side of patatas bravas was great for getting more garlic aioli into my mouth, but they would've left a better impression if they had been more crisp. They were super fresh though, as evidenced by their burning hot innards.
Since an 8.5-ounce burger is a bit ginormous for lunch, I'd recommend splitting the burger and a salad with a friend. I shared the burger along with a generous bowl of their crispy salad made with chopped romaine, shredded savoy, roasted almonds, crispy noodles, cumin, and fresh mint vinaigrette. It may be too cumin-y for some, but I found the spice refreshing.