Sunday, 10 April 2011
Forget eggs benedict and fancy fries. When your insides are wincing from margarita pain - the burger’s where it’s at.
I’m a maximalist when it comes to the burger. I once had a month’s stint in Australia, where avocado and beetroot is packed in just about everything, after which I was purist no longer. Pickle, onion, fried things, bacon bits. You know the score.
Think thick slabs of meat, wedged in bun and made sloppy with enough condiment to drip from your hands. Cheese? Oh go on then. Melt it.
That was the tonic after a night out at Industry in Hell’s Kitchen - a pulsing gay club, newly opened, box-fresh and quite frankly, too much.
I’d spent the morning-after dazedly wandering the art galleries of Chelsea, all Andy Warhol polaroids and sad artists. But by midday I had a purpose. Brunch with my friend Barry had been booked at the Mercer Kitchen in Soho and burgers awaited. Just the anticipation of eating was making me shake.
The Mercer Kitchen is a fine place - airy and busy up top, but the floor underneath in its Christian Liaigre glory is clandestine - dark with wenge-wood. You may think it's a dear place as it's a Jean-George Vongerichten number (who's just opened Spice Market in Soho, London. Read Jay Rayner's review here) but with burgers at $15 a pop, I don't think that's bad at all.
Barry chose the Niman ranch burger, adorned with only aged cheddar. Mine was called the Mercer (which surely allows the kitchen to dress it up with as fancy ingredients as possible) fussy with tart pepperjack cheese, avocado, creamy Russian dressing and crispy onions. All this glorified cheeseburger was missing was the crunch of salty bacon. Simple golden fries were served charmingly in a flowerpot.
I’d learnt to love Brooklyn Brewery lager over the weeks (the Draft House in Battersea stocks the lager and the ale) which was a handsome thing to swig with mouthfuls of chargrilled meat.
Now, the Mercer is not the best place to chow down burger in New York City. But as far as fussy burgers and good chat go, this place has the winning combination.
It’s the place to talk the morning after the night before. The place where you can avoid smug bright eyed shoppers. The place to hide from the stream of sunbeams when your eyes aren’t quite used to daylight.
I’m all for the burger brunch. Are you?
The Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince St.
New York, NY