Best, Andy K.
Dear Andy, What I'll do with it is post it here on AHT. Thanks for the report!
Chars, Adam K.
Radius Burger (Made the Shack Burger Its Bitch)
Words by Andy K. | The most monumental news story of the year, Shake Shack, New York City’s master of the hamburger, was not crowned king of the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival “Burger Bash.” Wha? As a firm supporter of and spreader-of-the-love for The Shack, I had to, as soon as I caught wind of Danny Meyer’s defeat, try out the so-called better burger. When I heard Radius was the champ I was skeptical at the very least. The restaurant is around the corner from my Chinatown (Boston) office and I had walked past it a number of times noting its antiquated name/logo and chromed-out exterior mimicking so many New York clubs I never ever dared step inside. So Radius remained excluded from my realm of restaurant visitation.
But then, the win. Radius bested my yellow-jersey burger joint. I woke up vigilant the next morning, corralled a group of enthused burger fans from my office and set off on the 3-minute (uphill, mind you) walk to Radius, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash champ. We walked through the, again, hugely overchromed front doors and into the surprisingly classy and understated dining room (right). The four of us were examined up and down by the polite hostess who presented us with the option to sit in the stuffy dining room or in the bar-lounge area—clearly a question originating from our apparent lack of suit/tie/financial district ‘tude. We were reminded of the scene in Caddyshack where Ty Webb lets Karl know that they have a pool and a pond but that the pond would be better for him. Knowing our place, we chose the lounge.
The menus arrived and after scrolling down to the Radius Signature Burger, I was all but shocked by the $17 price tag. Chrome equals money, right? I mean isn’t that why we are all rolling on Dubs? I know that’s why I am. Anyway, we chose Radius for a reason, so the $30 lunch was on (beer costs money, too). All four of us ordered the burger medium-rare.
It arrived in no time and was served in synchronized-swimming-caliber order. The wait staff put the burgers down in front of us like they were delivering solid bars of Fort Knox gold. They did look like the meat and cheese equivalent of what our dollar used to be backed by. A beautiful brioche bun encapsulated a larger than average (but not too large like oft-referenced-best-burger-in-boston R. F. O’Sullivan’s) patty. On top of the meat, an evenly melted sharp Vermont cheddar and on top of the cheese a collection of crispy fried onions.
The twist? A mayonnaise, horseradish and lemon juice sauce in perfect quantity placed atop of the crispy onions. The sauce, not unlike the Shack Burger’s, is of perfect consistency. It never overpowers the burger but offers up a slight spin on the standard McDonald’s condiments. The accompanying fries were perfectly arranged in tiny saucepans and had a clearly regimented dusting of sea salt and parsley. Ketchup was available, but used in sparing quantities.
After slicing the sucker open, it was clear that the meat was cooked perfectly medium-rare. So far so good. First bite. The meat was more compact that I was hoping for but the combination of flavors was absolutely excellent. The mild horseradish sauce was a perfect complement to the salty chuck while the bun managed to keep everything neatly in order as we progressed—no backsliders here. We continued through, although the size of this burger was too much for some (myself, not included).
Now the editorial. This was a fantastic cheeseburger. It will certainly reside within the upper-echelon of mine own best burger stratum, but the truth is I am a diner-style burger man through and through. I was born in New Jersey and diners are part of my life. There is something about a thin, crumbly patty fried on the griddle that just gets me. This burger was not that—this was a designer burger. That’s not a necessarily a negative comment, it’s just the way I view the beastly meat snack. I cannot say it defeats the Shack Burger in my mind as that burger is clearly recreates my '50s diner sensibilities (the griddle burger, the wax paper, the bun). But clearly, the folks down in South Beach voted differently and Radius will reign supreme for the next year. But I will, with little hesitation, say this is the best “big burger” I’ve had in some time.
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