310 Lenox Avenue, New York NY 10027 (map); 212-792-9001; redroosterharlem.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: A great burger with an even better bun
Want Fries with That?: Yes, picture-perfect shoestrings
Prices: Red Rooster Burger (w/fries), $19
Just a quick update from my neck of the woods.
It had been a while since I had the burger from Red Rooster. Its former incarnation was made with house-ground chuck and came topped with a pile of sautéed mushrooms that kind of overwhelmed the mild mannered beef. It wasn't a bad burger by any means, but not the best in the neighborhood. That distinction used to go to next door Chez Lucienne for their juicy, perfectly-cooked, and ultra-cheesy burger. But Red Rooster has upped its burger game, switching out their house-ground patty for a much juicier, tastier patty from LaFrieda, as well as getting rid of the mushrooms in lieu of more classic topping choices. Both of these are wise moves.
The new burger has been on the menu for about six months, comes grilled to order, and is served on a housemade, sesame seed-studded pretzel bun, another improvement over their old version.
Even better are the fries, which have now lost almost all pretense of being anything other really great thin-and-crispy fries. That pretense comes in the form of a light dusting of grated parmesan. There are worse things to be pretentious about.
Available on the lunch and brunch menus for $19, it's on the pricey side, but it's a big burger and, well, for better or worse, everything in the neighborhood is starting to get on the pricey side.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer 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.