One of the anomalies of my eating habits lately has been my increased consumption of burgers.
Between Wednesday, June 24, when I had the burger failure at Federal Cafe in the Financial District, and Thursday, July 2, when I shared a bacon cheeseburger at Daddy-O in the West Village (hands down, one of my favorite burgers in the city, every time), I was averaging a burger every other day. That’s approaching Wimpy standards.
Sadly, the burgers only batted .500. The other contenders? Monday’s knocked-it-out-of-the-park hit, the California burger from Burger Burger (left, $10 and change, with tax), and Tuesday’s lackluster cheeseburger from La Cense Burger Truck (right, with pickle, $8).
Let’s line these two up, tête-à-tête:
La Cense: Pre-formed, frozen patties; composition is a grass-fed “all natural,” 85% lean beef blend (sirloin, round roast, chuck roast and flank steak) from La Cense ranch in Montana. After cooking, the texture is a little over-processed, the meat dry. It tastes vaguely gamey, which I assume is the “taste” of grass-fed beef.
Burger Burger: Don’t know if the beef’s been previously frozen, but the patties, which are billed as “100% Angus,” are hand-formed in the stand-alone shop; after cooking, the burger is moist, the texture crumbly.
La Cense: The hearty poppy-seed bun was a highlight of the burger. It was fresh, sturdy and satisfactorily contained the burger to the last bite.
Burger Burger: Mmm. This soft, fluffy, lightly sweet brioche bun squishes down around the burger and its contents to really lock and hold it all in — without falling apart.
COOKING & PREPARATION
La Cense: Flat griddle-cooked medium burgers only, no changes even by special request. All burgers are served with caramelized onions, ketchup and mustard packets. Cheese $0.50 extra. No lettuce or tomato; no fries (Kettle brand chips). A pickle on the side $0.50 extra.
Burger Burger: Charbroiled over open flame to doneness of customer’s request. Toppings are infinite and interesting. The California burger came topped with a Thousand Island dressing, guacamole, frizzled onions, lettuce and tomato. Crispy-crunchy, fresh and flavorful, this burger was perfect as-is. In addition to classics, the menu boasts a list of less-conventional burger options worth exploring. All burgers come with fries or side salad, included in price.
La Cense: You’re ordering from a truck, so finding seating in the vicinity means sitting on the steps/outdoor benches of a nearby office building, finding a nearby food court with seating (Grand Central is a viable Midtown East option) or heading back to the desk.
Burger Burger: In the summertime, there’s lovely outdoor seating immediately adjacent to the shop, as well as a number of tables that blend into the Western end of the outdoor seating on Stone Street. If peak lunchtime crowds are an issue, there are a dozen stone benches 20 yards away, a guaranteed backup.