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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pat LaFrieda Patties in Upper Manhattan

DOWNTOWN food goes north. At least that's how the Times put it, in a recent article.

j'ai finis

WITH my recent excitement over a decent Margherita in Inwood, I could barely ignore the fact that "brand name" (Pat LaFrieda) burgers were now arriving in Washington Heights via the recently opened Burger Heights. On a recent Monday afternoon, I went to see what all the buzz was about (and if it was justifiable).

"Heights Burger"

Happening upon Wadsworth Avenue and 182nd Street, I'd arrived at the small, but attractive hamburger joint, which hosted counter-only seating. Burger Heights offers a variety of burger combinations from "The Wadsworth" (grilled ham, pineapple and provolone) to "The Cabrini" (lamb patty, baby spinach, red onion and feta), but being my first visit, I figured I should try the "Burger Heights" (American cheese, lettuce, tomato and "Heights Sauce") variety. While the menu states, Burgers are cooked to medium, unless otherwise requested, the cheery cashier asked my cooking preference: Medium-rare

"Your order number is at the bottom of the receipt," which I thought a bit superfluous, being that there were only about five guests in the roughly ten-square-foot space. But what do I know.

When order number forty-eight was called, I retrieved what I thought to be a rather stylish tin tray, lined with an equally stylish peach-tinted liner stamped with the Burger Heights logo. I'd fetched a few napkins while skirting the ketchup and mustard dispensers (if only they'd had a good Dijon!) and returned to my spot at the Wadsworth-Avenue-facing counter which I'd reserved with my drink. I was satisfied with the appearance of my meal, and a fan of the "minimalist plating" with the burger tucked, snugly, at the far end of the tray. Now, perhaps: I should not be writing a review, because I'm not nearly into burgers as I once was. Yet, I cannot shuffle off the early signs of excitement over what appears to be a bona-fide food scene beginning to emerge in this once barren culinary wasteland...

a sign of hope

WHILE I was looking forward to a juicy, slightly bloodied medium-rare burger, my "Heights Burger" was cooked to a full medium. But, I wasn't going to complain (over a $5 burger); I was glad they'd at least tried to deliver my preference. While I had found the burger to be completely acceptable, it was the fries that I'd enjoyed more: nicely crisped on the outside and with perfectly tender insides (and well-seasoned too). At $7.90, I was beyond sufficiently sated

thick shakes at
Burger Heights

But of course, I had to ponder the dessert options. Placing my original order, I'd noticed a burger, fries and shake combo ($12.50), which had gotten me to considering a shake for dessert. Craning toward the menu from my counter stool, I noticed Italian gelato shakes (vanilla, chocolate, coffee, hazelnut, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, dulce de leche, pistachio and Nutella) and had known then and there that I'd be ending with a hazelnut gelato shake.

Within five minutes of placing my order, the lightly-colored thick shake was delivered to my spot at the counter (no order number required), along with a proper milkshake straw. At first taste: I could hardly believe I was in my own neighborhood--we don't have stuff this good up here! (But now, we do.) While the savory portion of my meal was not as memorable, I'd bring anyone (that was in the vicinity) here for a shake! 

For hangovers, however... this place would probably hit the spot.

Burger Heights, 177 Wadsworth Ave., Washington Heights (212) 951-1984
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