Getting a reservation at the Minetta Tavern is a challenge. One reason we often eat at the bar. (See our earlier story). We couldn’t let National Hamburger Month go by, however, without enjoying the tavern’s famous Black Label Burger. Turns out, we were not alone. The month of May found Minetta’s bar area jammed with burger aficionados eager to wrap their hands around that famous brioche bun. (A regular bun just won’t do for this king of hamburgers. More on that later).
Let’s work from the inside out and start with the meat. When planning your own backyard barbecue, you probably opt for ground sirloin. That’s fine, but not good enough for the Minetta burger. The beef used is aged, one reason for that $26 price tag. The mixture is formed by hand into 8-ounze patties. No machine stamping here. Each burger is gently placed on the griddle that has been greased with grapeseed oil, and then patted down to ensure maximum contact with the hot surface. During cooking, the burger is lovingly basted with clarified butter. (This is not the moment to be thinking about your cholesterol).
Now for that bun. The brioche was chosen over the potato bun. Sesame seeds on top give it a nutty taste. And after these buns are baked, they are left out overnight so the outside will be a little crispy. Nothing worse than a soft, soggy bun.
What about a topping? The best! Sauteed onions, carmelized but not mushy. And no cheese. The chefs maintain the burger doesn’t need it. We agree.
This burger is rich, so you may want to keep the appetizers simple. A mesclun salad with goat cheese is perfect. We gave ourselves some time to catch our breath and then ordered the coconut cake, surprisingly light and a nice sweet counterpoint to such a savory meal.
All in all, we enjoyed eating our hamburger at Minetta’s bar. Burger fans on both sides of us, a friendly bartender helping us choose beers and wine, and the crush of the crowd behind us, waiting for a turn to occupy a prized stool. As we exited, we told anyone who would listen: well worth the wait.
113 MacDougal Street