UPPER WEST SIDE, NYC — If there is any food item that couldn't be more "a dime a dozen", figuratively, it's the burger. (And in NYC, they couldn't be any less "a dime a dozen", literally!) It often surprises me that most people aren't suffering a constant, chronic case of burger fatigue. And even more generally, just food fatigue.
A fatigue I thought I was myself suffering as I spent days trying to figure out where I would have my good friend Fran meet me for lunch as she was coming in from out of town. She was in Chelsea and I would be coming from home on the Upper East Side, so I figured Upper West Side was a good compromise.
I remembered there being another outpost of Hell's Kitchen's rightfully popular Island Burgers & Shakes, and figured it would at least be worth the revisit.
I was right. The menu having been greatly expanded since my last visit downtown many years ago, nit just with house burger variations, but with options for a customer-designed burger.
Fran started with a rather pedestrian looking Caesar salad—though she did finish it, sans croutons. I created my own burger, choosing to have my beef burger blackened. and served on dark rye toast with Boursin cheese spread, sautéed onions, and pickle.
I am quite proud of myself—I thought this came together quite well. The soft, creamy Boursin cheese countered nicely the spicy charred exterior of the otherwise juice medium rare patty. Slightly caramelized onions boosted the beef's own sweetness, and the pickle's bite and acidity added texture and bite.
Fran got a turkey burger on dark rye as well, and seemed very pleased with it as well. We probably didn't need to order separate orders of fries; especially since my au poivre fries came with a rather bland sauce that tasted more of butter than anything else, and forced me to just use table ketchup to give a good crispy potato some flavor.
Although a concession of a dining decision, Island Burgers & Shakes paid off much as it did when I first tried them farther downtown. And in a little nook of a place, much like the original, it's nice that in a city chock full of burger shops, chains, and behemoths, that this little oasis peacefully and deliciously exists, provide some welcomed peace, and a unique burger experience.
ISLAND BURGERS & SHAKES | 422 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024 | www.islandburgersandshakes.com