406 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013 (map); 212-680-5600; brinkleysnyc.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Super juicy grass-fed beef, and large!
Want Fries With That? They come standard and are just ok. Skip the weird dipping sauce.
Price: $14.50 for burger/fries
I've had an off-and-on relationship with Brinkley's, the local pub near our office up on the corner of Broome and Centre, or more precisely, an on-then-off-then-on relationship. The first on segment was the honeymoon phase during which I enjoyed a few local brews, a couple glasses of New York state wine, and a reasonably well made cocktail or two. Off came when one of the bartenders "accidentally" overcharged me by a couple bucks per drink, shortchanged me, tried to tell me that it was sales tax that took my happy hour beer from $4 to $7 each, and was then unable to produce a receipt to show me how the math behind this purported 75 percent NYC sales tax worked.
In my book, pinching money from the customers is an offense large enough to land yourself on my never-return-again list and it'd take something awfully nice to get me back through the door. What is it that finally got me to break my self-imposed lifetime ban? Well, it's the same thing that informs many of the important decisions in my life: a cheeseburger.
See, I heard through the beef-vine that the grass-fed burger they serve is phenomenal and after several milliseconds of deliberating, I came to the well-considered decision that my self-imposed duties to increase the total amount of truth in the universe outweighed my personal vendetta against a single bartender who most likely didn't even work at the bar in question any longer.
Also, I really wanted a cheeseburger for lunch.
And man, am I glad I lifted my Brinkley's ban. The burger is indeed fantastic. Coming in at around seven to eight ounces, it's of the familiar hand-packed soft-ball shape that you see in other pub-style grilled/broiled burger joints like, say, Corner Bistro. But unlike that institution's flavorless softballs, Brinkley's monstrous burger is almost insanely juicy with a gushing pink center and considerably crusty exterior. Grass-fed beef can have a tendency to be dry or mealy, but that's certainly not the case here.
Despite its gastropubbish leanings, Brinkley's wisely forgoes any kind of fancy-pants bun, instead opting for a nice, soft, store-bought bun that just fits around the patty. A layer of lettuce protects the bottom bun from getting soggy while some good pickles from McClure's add crunch and tanginess. I could have done without the bland tomato slice and the onions could definitely have had more of a presence, but those are minor complaints in an otherwise excellent sandwich.
You get a choice of Swiss, cheddar, or blue cheese, but I don't think anyone in the bar ordered anything besides the cheddar at this lunch hour.
I'm always wary of flavored mayos in a burger, but theirs, which comes spiked with smoked paprika, is subtle and delicious, adding a nice smokiness to complement the char of the crust. This was one of the more pleasing new burgers I've had in a while.
Cereal Eats columnist Leandra told me that she always assumes fries served with skins on are automatically going to be good, despite the fact that it's not always the case. This time, they were...just ok. Potatoey and moderately crisp but underseasoned. I heartily recommend against the housemade dipping sauce, which tastes like cocktail sauce and is terrifically inappropriate for french fries. You're much better off asking for a side of their smokey mayo instead.
Brinkley's, looks like we've patched up our relationship, at least for the moment. Please don't hurt me again, because I'm kinda happy with the way things are.
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