There are few benefits to working on the Upper East Side. Obviously, we've got some rockin' museums and Central Park, but take those away and all you have is about a million strollers. Thankfully, there are a few above-average burger joints in the hood. We'll discuss the others in the future, but since it's tiny hamburger week we've set our sights on Sassy's Sliders.
Sassy's, along with Schnäck, are the two big shots in the tiny hamburger scene of NYC (which is why we'll be putting these two head-to-head tomorrow, after the full Schnäck review). The styles of each restaurant are quite different, in terms of both burger and decor. Sassy's, as their website explains, is shooting for a 50's aesthetic and focuses on freshly prepared food. They are set up for counter service and the dining area is quite small, which means you aren't likely to get a seat during a busy lunch hour. That being said, I've always managed to grab one of the seats while there.
Although we only came for the burger, Sassy's also offers sliders in veggie, turkey, chicken parm and bbq chicken varieties. The burger is made with 100% freshly ground sirloin and served with browned onions, pickles & ketchup. The buns are steamed. If you don't want anything on top be sure to tell your server, but I would recommend sticking with their setup as it adds significantly to the burger.
While ordering, we realized that Sassy's is a pretty good deal. For $5.79 you get four sliders of any combination you like, a regular-sized soda and an order of fries. It's $0.12 extra for cheese or $0.30 extra for cajun, garlic or sweet potato fries. It's not dirt cheap, but compared to Stanton Social or my other options on the UES, I'm not complaining.
The burgers themselves aren't terribly flavorful, but the quality of the meat is good. Eaten alone, the burger is nothing particularly special. Tasty, but not memorable. When you add the toppings, the sandwich comes to life. Michael Ronis and Herb Goldberg, the cofounders of Sassy's, seem to have found a winning combination. The steamed bun is an interesting touch, as it gives it a working-class feel, but it aids in blending the flavors together. Maybe it's a bad thing that I remember the flavors of the bun, pickles, ketchup and onion the most, but that doesn't mean it's a bad sandwich. Sassy's has put the focus on the flavor of the condiments, which actually makes sense for a mini-burger as the amount of meat usually isn't enough to get it sufficiently juicy.
While tasting, I also tried out a cheeseburger -- it was just as good, so add the american cheese if you're in the mood -- and a veggie burger, which had an atrocious honey mustard sauce on top. I could only eat a couple bites. The fries at Sassy's are quite good too, if you're in need of fried carbs.
Sassy's did not disappoint. It's far from froufrou and that's how I like it. The ingredients are fresh and the flavors are right, which is why I grab lunch here about once a month. If you decide to have your own mini-burger week, day, month or whatever, Sassy's Sliders is worth a visit. It's also a worthy stop for the NYC burger lover.
Location: 1530 3rd Ave. (at 86th St.), New York, NY 10028
Cost: $0.99 a slider
Short Order: The sliders are tasty and worth a visit, especially if you're in the neighborhood.
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