3Bs at FoodParc
839 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY (map); 646-600-7140; foodparc.com/eateries/3bs
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: One of the best burgers in the city with some tasty variations
Want Fries With That? Absolutely: The skinny fries are crisp and well seasoned
Price: Reuben, $8.95; French Onion, $8.45; Crackling, $9.45; french fries, $2.95; 3Bs Chili, $6.75
When we first wrote about FoodParc, the midtown casual dining destination conceived and executed by Ed Schonfeld last September, we casually mentioned that the burger at 3Bs was "perhaps one of the top 5 under $10 in New York right now," I think we were understating. After having sampled that original burger a few more times—the one made with the Pat LaFrieda blend that features hanger steak, crisp fried onion rings, melted American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a special Thousand Island-esque sauce on a potato roll—I'm confident in saying that it's one of the top 5 burgers in the city for any price (don't ask me to name the other four).
So I was excited to hear that they were adding a few more options to their lineup.
I'm not really one to judge a burger joint on its toppings—more often than not, burger joints with crazy toppings use them to cover up an inferior product (see Exhibit A: The Counter)—but in this case, with such a great burger as the base, what harm could a few crazy toppings do?
The best of the three new burgers I tried was the Reuben, which tops their standard burger patty with pastrami cured bacon-style, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island on a buttered and toasted poppy seed bun (pictured at top). It's a pretty ridiculous gut-bomb of a sandwich that's pretty close in proportions to my own Pastrami Burger Bomb, and a great homage to both the classic New York Reuben sandwich and to the pastrami burgers of Utah.
I was a little worried that the bun would be too tough, but nope, it's perfectly soft and compliant, two features that every good burger bun should have.
This is perfect drunk food.
The French Onion is perhaps even messier, with peppery, brothy braised onions spooned on top of the burger and held in place with a melted sheath of Gruyère cheese. It also comes with some of the excellent crispy onions that come on the standard burger, piled onto the same poppy seed roll from Eli's. The onions really start to soak through the bottom bun, particularly when you bite into the crazy juicy burger and open the flood gates, so lean forward, grab a handful of napkins, and eat fast.
This is also perfect drunk food for when you're drunk off of French table wine.
The only new burger that didn't quite work was the one I was looking forward to the most: the Crackling. The tender braised pork belly is a nice addition to the standard burger, and the pork cracklings were crisp enough (though not particularly porky), but the ketchup-like sauce underneath and the super sweet apple sauce on top threw me off. It's simply too sweet and overwhelming. Next time, I'd opt for the same burger without the sauce and sub in some mustard or mayo instead.
Don't pass up on their great french fries, which are in that pleasant thinner-than-McDonald's but thicker-than-the-Spotted-Pig territory. Yeah, they've got some kind of potato starchy coating on them to give them extra crunch, but in this case, they're tasty enough that it doesn't bother me.
Also new to the menu is 3Bs Chili made with the same blend that the burgers are made from. It's...overthought. With too much stuff—a lot of crunchy fresh vegetables and black beans—it doesn't come together the way a good, simple chili should. It tastes more like a garden vegetable salsa stirred into black bean chili.
That said, it's the burger you should be coming here for anyway.
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.