3 “Break from the Norm” Burgers: Del Frisco’s, Ruby’s, Great Jones Cafe

by

In this “burger obssessed age“, where beef on a bun is the restaurant industry’s lone recession-proof dish, NYC Food Guy is here to shed some light on three burgers that are a break from the normal fare.  One’s both beauty and beast, one’s from Down Under and the last is just a heart-stopper.  Read on for three different takes on an American classic…

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Beauty & The Beast

10 oz. Prime Burger ($15.95, served at lunch only) with cheddar, lettuce, tomato & onion

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

1221 6th Avenue at 49th Street
New York, NY 10020
212-575-5129

If you’re looking to eat a beast of a burger in a beautiful atmosphere, Del Frisco’s burger is for you.  The burger arrived topped with sharp cheddar and complementary sugar-cured bacon which had been slow-cooked 4 hours.  The slightly-sweet bun was lightly toasted but remained airy and soft.

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As a steak house burger, the sweet flavor of the beef shined through foremost, so much so that ketchup isn’t really necessary.   The fresh-tasting 10 ounce patty arrived a perfectly cooked to order medium rare but the slow-cooked bacon stole the show. It was incredibly savory and melted in your mouth, some of the finest bacon I’ve tasted.

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The mildly sharp cheddar offered a flavor that didn’t meld with the clean-tasting burger.  The bun also had issues,  it was too flimsy to stand up to the juiciness of a burger this size.  As you can see below, the burger overtook the bun resulting in final bites that were all burger and no bread.

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At $11.95 per order, the onion rings are sweet and crispy but unnecessary.  They failed to enhance the burger when placed on top and eaten in the sandwich and they stole valuable stomach space.  The homemade potato chips were similarly defeating, arriving room temperature and lacking any purpose of flavor.  Steer clear of both, in addition to the complementary bread offered at the beginning of the meal, if you want to get your moneys worth with the burger.

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The Australian Burger

Whaleys ($12.50) Premium ground beef, tomato, lettuce, beet, pineapple, fried egg, ketchup

Bronte ($11) Premium ground beef, tomato, lettuce, sweet chili, mayo, cheese

Ruby’s Cafe & Bar

219 Mulberry Street b/t Spring St. & Prince St.
New York, NY 10012
212-925-5755

This easy-to-miss, 4-table Australian bar and cafe offers 5 types of burgers, two with chicken breast, in addition to some interesting pastas, paninis, salads and breakfast until 1pm.  No French fries or chips are offered.  The Whaleys, seen below, is the most unique burger on the menu but it’s diverse ingredients didn’t create any harmony around the meatloaf-like burger.

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More aptly described as a massive meat sandwich, the Whaleys arrives on a crisp but untoasted ciabatta roll which hardly hugs the cumbersome ingredients.  It’s awkward texturally and poorly constructed, the entire sandwiched dominated by the sweetness of the pineapple and ketchup cut against the garlicky beef patty. The overcooked fried egg repelled from the burger and the cold beets, tomato and pineapple continued to detract from the overall unity.  Only the accompanying mixed greens salad dressed in a savory balsamic vinaigrette shined.

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The Bronte burger (below), made famous at Kingswood, another Australian restaurant owned by Ruby’s proprietors, was more in tune overall.  Sweet chili sauce and mayo rest atop two slices of melted Swiss cheese which keeps the burger tied to the ciabatta.  I recommend this burger, which may be better as a chicken breast sandwich, over the Whaleys.

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If I return to Ruby’s, it would be to pair a non-burger offering with one of their three Australian beers: James Boag, Coopers and Lucky.  Lucky ($7), which comes in a Buddha shaped bottle, was delicious, reminiscent of a lighter, more bubbly Red Stripe.

The Heart-Stopper

Chili Bacon Cheeseburger ($16)

Great Jones Cafe

54 Great Jones Street b/t Lafayette St. & Bowery
New York, NY 10012
(212) 674-9304
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My first impression: “Wow, I am a carnivore.”  This meat-lover’s burger, served in the cozy, dimly lit confines of this friendly bar and restaurant delivers 3 slices of well-crisped bacon and a light coating of “Mission” beef chili (beef, red beans, celery) crowned atop a massive, griddled beef patty.  It’s all sandwiched between an airy yet sturdy bun from Parisi bakery, the top half of which a healthy amount of cheddar is melted upon.

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Overall this massive burger lacked the flavor punch one would hope for.  The juicy yet slightly overcooked burger would have benefited from a nice charbroiling, the flavor of smoke and fire would have added some much needed depth.  The bacon was superfluous, hearty but standard.  The “Mission” beef chili, one of a rotating menu of chili, was mild and thin.  After failing to create the spice I desired by adding some El Yucateco habanero hot sauce, I requested some chopped green jalapenos to add onto the burger.  The flavor of the peppers was a nice touch, but the spicy bite I desired to complement the sweetness of the bun, was missing.

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Opt for the sweet potato fries, some of the best I’ve had, over the hand-cut fries below.  The sweet potato fries cut through the saltiness of the chili cheese burger but the heavily-salted regular hand-cut fries, made from a darker potato than your standard Idaho, didn’t complement the burger quite as well.   They would, however, make a great base for chili cheese fries.

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I’d just as soon return to Great Jones Cafe to drink as I would to sample some of their other reasonably priced home-cooked offerings such as the Barbque Ribs or the Garlic Shrimp Sautee. A new menu of daily specials accompanies the quality beer menu, which during Happy Hour (5-7PM Daily) allows you to enjoy a $3 pint while listening to Bluegrass on the old school jukebox.

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18 Responses to “3 “Break from the Norm” Burgers: Del Frisco’s, Ruby’s, Great Jones Cafe”

  1. FN Says:

    NYCFG, I am in Paris on a long-term work assignment. I almost wanted to cry when I saw the burger photos. I really do miss the NYC burgers more than anything.

    Hey, try out A Bistro in Brooklyn for a really off the beaten path, otherworldly Senegalese burger.

  2. Phil Says:

    oh wow… these burgers look absolutely absurd! have you tried jg melon food guy?

  3. BBQ Says:

    Loved the photos for this review! I once knew someone who was a food stylist who described how she painted, waxed and polished the food before it was photographed for the food magazine where she worked. Elmer’s Glue was a major ingredient in her work. At least we know that you’re actually eating the food right after you show us what it looks like. I love your site. If only some of the 4th graders who are currently submitting comments would talk about food once in a while.

  4. njfoodguy Says:

    boner!

  5. ja'mie Says:

    omg such a random review!! these burgers will not work well with my eating disorder!

  6. Stinkus the Pincus Says:

    Oh THE HEART STOPPER at the Great Jones Cafe… what a burger, what a burger! I thought that the burger itself was cooked perfectly as I asked for it to be medium rare (although they may have mixed up medium rare with rare).. either way definitely get it one of those. The cheddar cheese and soft yet sturdy bun was a delicious combination with the juicy meat. I do agree it probably would have been even better if it was charbroiled.

    I was disappointed that it was not really spicy at all and they didn’t add as much chili to it as I would have hoped. The regular hand cut fries were awesome. They were seasoned just right and crispy.

    The Creole wings were cooked with a very interesting and tasty sauce. They were definitely too small but extremely flavorful. The sauce was a great combination of being quite spicy with a hint of a sweet zestiness. I liked that the bottom of the plate was filled with tons of sauce since there is nothing worse than dry wings.

    I would definitely go back and eat there and sit and have a beer as the atmosphere is cozy and warm. The brunch menu looks really good too. Lots of eggs mexican style with tortillas, sour cream, salsa.. that kind of thing.

  7. LocalApple Says:

    Ahhh some of these burgers look mighty delicious! The tower of onion rings sounds good right about now! Im off to eat!

  8. Rev Says:

    These all look pretty good but your reviews aren’t colored with satisfaction.

    I love the Frisco for a steak but for an AMAZING steak house burger go to the Old Homestead:
    http://burgerconquest.blogspot.com/2008/12/corner-bistro-dont-believe-hype-vs-old.html

    For an Australian burger, you gotta go to the SUnburnt Cow and make sure you do it for weekend brunch. http://www.thesunburntcow.com/

    last and certainly not least, randomly came into this burger and it was phenomenal; SHORTYS.32 – http://burgerconquest.blogspot.com/2009/01/shortys32-surprise-entry-into-top-10.html

  9. kristen Says:

    OMGZ I”M BACK!!!!! at work at these burgers look pheeenomenallll. i’m gonna be at jjosh-tree later in the hillz if anyone is lookin to party — monday is the new friday! happy new year nycfoodguyz!

  10. Dr. Dyspepsia Says:

    Oh, Kristen, you’re such a slut!

  11. wtf Says:

    who is the Dr D imposter? the real dr would never use that kind of language..

  12. Phil Says:

    Hi Kristen! Nice to see you’re back. What’s up with the hiatus?

  13. Bill Says:

    NYCFG,

    Looks like some tasty burgers, man! Love the ribs at Great Jones, but not sure about the chili on the burger though. I love chili with beans and without, but on burger and dogs, I only like the beanless (meat sauce/Coney) kind.

  14. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Bill,
    Glad to hear a thumbs up on the ribs, definitely gonna have to check them out. I could understand the no bean policy, it would force the chili to be heartier. What are the ribs like at Great Jones? Dry? Saucy? Beef? Pork?

  15. Jack Says:

    Hey FG. went to 5 Napkin Burger for the first time yest, thought it was great. Have you been? Would like to get your take.

  16. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Jack,
    Haven’t been to 5 Napkin yet but I continue to hear good things. I’m going to try to get there soon and test it out. What did you get? The onion marmalade burger?

  17. lauren Says:

    Keens burger. Carrots in brown butter. Sorted.

  18. Mary I Says:

    $3 pints of Captain Lawrence or Sixpoint and bluegrass on the juke? Sweet! I definitely need to check out Great Jones Cafe soon. Sheep Station (4th Av & Douglass in Brooklyn) has a nice Aussie burger. I haven’t had it in a while, need to revisit. I think they have a decent happy hour as well and possibly a burger & beer special one night a week. And poutine!

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