With grilling season in full swing, the burger is a favorite that nearly everyone can enjoy in some form or other.
Though there are various claims as to where the first hamburger was served in America, it really caught people’s attention with the arrival of fast food chains such as White Castle (1921), Bob’s Big Boy and Wimpy Burger, named after the burger-loving character in the Popeye series. After McDonald's started its cross country sweep in the 1950s, the burger became an iconic part of American cuisine. The flexibility of preparing, grilling and accessorizing the classic burger makes it a meal to suit all tastes. Food For Thought (FFT) talked to a few venues whose business is all about burgers.
The Burger Spot, Garden City
“Everyone is trying to perfect the burger but a good burger starts at the beginning,” says Dmitri Londos, owner of The Burger Spot. “Nothing in our restaurant is frozen. We serve pure angus ground beef free of antibiotics and grass fed.” He adds that all their sauces, including their popular house sauce and ranch, are homemade plus he uses a “higher grade” of toppings like lettuce and tomato. He adds that the secret to cooking a great burger at home is to not over season it. “You want to taste the meat. Also we have a tendency to overcook burgers. With a high quality grade of meat a little pink is okay,” Londos adds.
Burger Bite, West Hempstead
Manager Lou Spina says Burger Bite gets their 100 percent Black Angus meat fresh from the butcher everyday, which they then pound and shape into patties. All are cooked to order on a “char-broiler” which Spina says recreates the backyard BBQ experience. “It seals in the juices and gives the beef a nice flavor,” he said. Their most popular burger is the Classic with American cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato and ketchup, followed by the Titan, which adds crispy bacon and onions to the mix. When asked how to season a great burger for the grill, he says, "Keep it simple. All you need is a little salt and pepper.”
Simplicity is also the motto at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, says spokesperson Molly Catalano. “We use a flat top grill and do not season the burgers. We allow the true fresh beef flavor to shine,” she said. They serve only six burger varieties (a regular is two patties and a little is one) with the bacon cheeseburger being the favorite. All burgers are “100 percent customizable,” says Catalano, adding that every one of their 15 toppings is free so you should feel free to indulge yourself.
A Burger Topping Bar
There are any number of ways to season a burger for the grill and many advise to keep it simple (salt, pepper, maybe a dash of steak sauce). That said, you can up the ante on a backyard BBQ by designing a sumptuous burger bar with at least five to 10 toppings so your guests can be creative.
Potential Toppings for Your Backyard Burger Bar
Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cheese (American, cheddar, Swiss, blue, gorgonzola-you choose but have two varieties), sliced red onion, grilled onions, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, steak sauce, hot sauce, chili, pickles, salsa, relish, mushrooms, peppers (sweet and hot), bacon, avocado and the list goes on. No matter how many toppings you choose, have fun and so will your guests.