Sometimes you're forced to eat 21 burgers for your job. It's a high class problem, I suppose, but somebody's got to do it.
The Fourth Annual New York City Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda took place at the Brooklyn Bridge Park on Friday evening, with 21 different restaurants representing. Thousands of burgerazzi were on hand to taste the burgers and maybe grab a photo op with the judges; this year's event was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg with a judging panel consisting of Food Network's Anne Burrell, Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food, Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods, and David Burke.
To be honest, food at these events is almost never as good as it is at the actual restaurant, but I left pleasantly surprised by the pretty consistent quality. With few exceptions, these were honest, tasty burgers that didn't fall victim to the typical cheffy pitfall of over-fancy-pantsifying simple foods that should remain simple.
Unsurprisingly, the Shake Shack delivered what I thought was far and away the best burger of the night—as well seasoned and crusty as it is at any of their locations—with strong performances coming from Bill's Bar & Burger serving real-deal onion-griddled sliders and Quality Meats with their "F*ck Fancy Cheeseburger." The surprise hit of the evening for me was the Lamb & Brisket burger from Beauty & Essex, which came with an awesome side of duck fat-coated fingerling potatoes.
People's Choice went to Josh Capon of Burger & Barrel for their Bash Burger—not the bison burger that they said they were going to serve—made with beef, bacon jam, pickles, and cheddar. It was a decent burger, if a little mushy. I more closely agreed with the judges' winning pick: the "Wisconsin" Cheese Burger from Abe & Arthur's.
Check out all the burgers in the slideshow above.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.