What makes a good burger? Most would say – a medium-rare, perfectly juicy patty, a buttered and toasted sesame-flecked bun, an onion/tomato ring, fresh lettuce and perhaps, a fried egg with a runny center are what burgers should be like. If I was handed that one, I’d be happy.
But what, let me ask, makes a great burger? No wait – the greatest burger you’ve ever eaten? Let me tell you about two.
This magical pair of burgers reside in a restaurant called The Nomad Bar. Loud, usually crowded, and largely filled with the kind of crowd that makes me feel very mature and wise for being in my thirties, The Nomad Bar is part of The Nomad Hotel, but it has its own separate (slightly hidden and mysterious) entrance at 10 West 28th Street. Although it’s known for its inventive cocktails, I believe this restaurant houses the best burgers I’ve eaten in New York City.
Burgers for the food ‘Nomad’ in you
Let’s get right down to it, shall we? The two burgers are the Dry-aged beef with cheddar, red onion and special sauce ($18) and the Chicken with foie gras, crispy skin and black truffle mayo ($17). Beef first (because, you know, beef) – the patty is the thickness of both buns combined, the beef is pink (it’s always cooked medium-rare so don’t even ask for any other way), and when you take that first bite you realize it’s the most tender, juicy, buttery, delicious bite of meat you’ve ever tasted. The patty is so flavorful by itself, but touched with that special sauce and the bite of the onions, it transforms into something quite ethereal. Now for the chicken – I know many of you are thinking, “That’s not a proper burger. It’s chicken. Which is almost a vegetable”, and on any other day I would wholeheartedly agree. Burger means beef. But this chicken burger is the one, very special exception to the rule. The patty is a combination of ground chicken and foie gras which gives it that very decadent umami flavor that is punctuated and elevated by the black truffle mayo. With each bite you also get the crunch from the crispy chicken skin, which, let’s be honest, is the best part of the bird.
Other than the burgers…
Now these burgers are small (slightly larger than sliders), and expensive, but when a single bite is so soul satisfying, less is really more. The burgers come with pickled vegetables and I’d recommend you also order the shoe-string French fries ($9). Definitely order a cocktail or two as well – my recommendations are Hot Lips (Jalapeno-infused Tequila, Mezcal, vanilla, lemon, and pineapple, ($16)) or the Gentlemen’s Exchange (Rye whiskey, Suze, Foro Amaro, Vermouth Di Torino, cold brew coffee, Absinthe and bitters ($18)). If you’re a fan of an Old Fashioned, ask for the off-menu, Improved Whiskey cocktail.
There is one other item on the Nomad menu that sounds rather promising – it is the $36 Chicken pot pie with black truffle and foie gras. I have a feeling it will be reminiscent of the burger, just creamier. But that is a treat for another time. For now I am content to have tasted two perfect, magical burgers.