The Meat Market
389 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230 (map); 413-528-2022; themeatmarketgb.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Half-pound local beef burger that's clean-tasting and incredibly juicy.
Want Fries with That? The kitchen trades fries for Tuscan-style white beans. Not the best pairing for a burger, but tasty nonetheless.
Prices: TMM Burger (w/side), $10
When one of the staffers at The Meat Market, Great Barrington's retail butcher specializing in local meat and housemade charcuterie, told me that of all the sandwiches on the lunch board it's the burger that I had try, I was a little surprised. That meant I'd be turning down sexier-sounding options like a grass-fed rare roast beef and cheddar with horseradish aioli, liverwurst with grainy mustard and pickled onions, and the entire charcuterie case. Lucky for me, I took his advice.
What was extraordinary about The Meat Market Burger (TMM Burger, $10) was the meat itself. I don't usually think of burger meat as clean and fresh-tasting, but this really was. Plus, it was obviously handled with extreme care. The half-pound mostly chuck patty (it's ground trim*, about 80 percent lean) was loosely packed but held together just fine, and it came off the griddle with just enough of a sear to taste the effects of good browning but not so much that it had a "crust." What you notice most is its supreme juiciness—cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the jus saturates the bun—and beefy flavor.
Speaking of the bun, its a good one—a sweet roll from nearby Berkshire Mountain Bakery. It manages to be both rich and tender while also giving the juicy patty and the fixin's—Cabot cheddar, house mayo, and house garlic pickles—all the support they need.
My only gripe: while I admire that the kitchen thinks beyond fries and onion rings, I can't say the side of rosemary white beans really did it for me. They would be—and, as a matter of fact, were—better in soup. The soup special that day, Smoked Chicken and White Bean, was great.
*During the holidays, when they were cutting lots of rib roasts, they made burgers from those trimmings. Christmas 2014 in the Berkshires, anyone?
About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Senior Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.