Lunch: Burger Bomb at Federal Cafe (Take My Word For It)

New York has spoiled me. This city has killer burgers. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t remember the last time I had a “bad” burger, and that’s  made me reckless. For some months now I’ve been waltzing around, ordering burgers willy-nilly, gambling that the quality of the meat, the execution of the cooking, the stature of the bun and the overall assemblage will deliver a decent, and possibly even good, or possibly even great, burger.

photo(5)photo(7)Well, I got checked today by Federal Cafe‘s Inside Out Burger, and I’m not beyond admitting that I probably deserved it. Damn, I wanted so badly to be the one to discover that Federal Cafe’s “9 to 5er’s Lunch Special” — “Any item on our menu for only $9.99” — wasn’t a gimmick but an under-the-radar lunching gem.

And … fail. In reality, the “regular” menu prices, which range from $8 – $19, are probably inflated to make the $9.99 price point attractive. I doubt that anything on photo(3)their menu is worth more than $9.99, and certainly not the Inside Out Burger “8 oz. Black Angus burger grilled to perfection topped with cheddar, bacon & mushrooms” — listed for $16 regularly.

Here’s my laundry list: While cooked properly, the patty was definitely some previously-frozen, machine-formed number, bearing no evidence of (how’d they cook it?) griddle or grill marks. While the bun top looked promising, dotted with sesame seeds, the bottom half was soggy almost immediately (and that from a non-juicy burger!) and began crumbling immediately upon touch or handling.

photo(4)And the fries. Quite possibly the worst sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. They tasted (and sort of looked) like orange-colored french fries. You order sweet potato fries for the ways they’re different from regular fries. These fries were so bland, so blah, they’d struggle to compete with fast food fries. In fact, I think they’d loose.

If you’re as attracted to the potential of Federal Cafe’s $9.99 lunch special — and I’m sure there’s someone out there who’s thinking that it’s only the burger that’s bad, that the $18 cheesesteak (for $9.99) might be the key — go for it. Just skip the burgers.

TIP: I saw a spinach salad going out — piled high with tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion, hard-boiled egg, and, at the tippity-top, a tangle of bacon — that looked decent …


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