What is the best burger in New York City? It is a question that produces nearly as many answers as there are burger-eaters. But on May 20, it will be answered once and for all.
As part of its annual Cuisine of Queens and Beyond Gala, the Queens-based Dish du Jour magazine will host the “Burger Battle of the Boroughs,” the first ever head-to-head competition pitting seven of the city’s best burgers against each other in a blind taste test.
Contestants were picked by the Dish du Jour editors with the help of two of the country’s foremost authorities on burgers: George Motz, author of the forthcoming Hamburger America: One Man’s Cross-Country Odyssey to Find the Best Burgers in the Nation (Running Press), who will emcee the event; and John Orlezky, author of The Hamburger: A History (Yale University Press) and the food editor of New York Magazine.
Tasked with determining the best burger will be a blindfolded panel of six expert judges including Ozersky, CBS TV editor Tony Tantillo, and “The Food Maven” Arthur Schwartz.
Burgers will be judged on the basis of appearance, originality and taste. They are eligible to receive up to 5 points each for both appearance and originality and 10 points for taste for a total of 20 possible points.
Each restaurant must present three burgers of one kind, which must be available on the restaurant’s regular menu.
The winner will, literally, be crowned the Burger King of Brooklyn (pun, but not plug, intended).
Representing Brooklyn will be Farm on Adderley (1108 Cortelyou Road) and 67 Burger (67 Lafayette Avenue).
The “Farm Burger,” which goes for $11 on the menu, will be The Farm on Adderley’s entry.
Its calling card is the quality of the beef itself, which comes from grass-fed cows from Maine’s Pineland Farms as distinguished from the grain-fed, confined cows that produce the vast majority of American beef.
“It’s a leaner meat, with maybe what you’d call a bit of a ‘gamey’ taste,” said Tom Kearny, head chef of the Ditmas Park restaurant specializing in seasonal ingredients.
“It’s more juicy than greasy. A lot of times when people say that a burger’s juicy, that juice is really grease.”
Cooked on a grill and served on and English Muffin, it is seasoned simply with salt and pepper and adorned with nothing but lettuce and tomato.
“Maybe it’s a purist approach, but if you’re working with really fresh, good meat, you want the product to speak for itself,” Kearny said.
As for the entry from 67 Burger, head chef Jeffrey Maslanka is leaning towards the “Goatburger,” a beef patty served with goat cheese and pickled red wine onions.
“You get that balance between richness and acidity – the pickled onions helps break up the burger and the goat cheese,” Maslanka said of the burger that goes for $8 on the Fort Greene burger shop’s menu.
The burger contains 80 percent lean beef, comprised mostly of chuck with some sirloin mixed in. It is served on a sesame bun.
“The bun to burger ratio is proper. You’re not left with too much meat or bun. And it holds together even though it’s really juicy,” Maslanka said.
The five other contestants include: Brgr (287 7th Avenue, Manhattan); Resto (111 East 29th Street, Manhattan); Harry’s Water Beach Taxi (203 Borden Avenue, Long Island City); Joe’s Bestburger (39-11 Main Street, Flushing); Coals (1881 Eastchester Road, Bronx).
“There are a lot of great burgers in the city, so just being named as one of the best places is an honor in itself,” said Frances Grace, publisher of the Astoria-based Dish du Jour.
The Burger Battle of the Boroughs, hosted by Dish du Jour, will be held as part of the magazine’s annual Cuisine of Queens and Beyond Food and Wine Gala.
It will take place on Tuesday, May 20, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Astoria World Manor (25-22 Astoria Blvd.) in Queens.
Tickets are $55 pre person in advance and $65 at the door.
“Many of the best restaurants in the area will be there,” said Grace. “You’re tasting over 50 things so you’ll be stuffed by the end.”
To buy tickets or for more information, call Dish du Jour at 718-777-7918, or visit www.dishdujourmagazine.com.