In a word, no.
I had been wanting to try the burger at Daniel Boulud's db Bistro Moderne for some time now. The all-sirloin patty is stuffed with both short ribs and foie gras and served on a parmesan bun with a side of frites. It also costs $32, $75 if you want fresh truffle shavings on top.
During a cab ride this past Wednesday, going from one Fashion Week event to another, my friend Diane and I passed db Bistro Moderne, and I thought of that burger. So on Thursday, when I fortuitously happened to turn down 44th Street while walking to the Bryant Park tents, I had my opportunity. I decided that if the restaurant could accommodate a single diner without a reservation, I'd have that burger. If not, I'd forget about it and find something else for lunch. As it turned out, there was a free seat at the bar. I ordered my burger and eavesdropped on the conversations around me.
Across from me was a Korean couple speaking in their native tongue. They were well-dressed and she had a huge Louis Vuitton bag parked on the seat next to her. On the other end of the bar (which was really just a tall table for eight) sat the most pretentious threesome I have encountered in quite a while. Two men and a woman chatted about nothing at all with an air of importance. They spoke in some weird French/British hybrid accent that sounded exactly like the Maya Rudolph/Fred Armisen Nuni characters on SNL. It was all very superficial and strange, and at one point the woman exclaimed, "I'm so glad to be here with two of my favorite people!" I kinda felt sorry for her at that point.
Before my burger arrived, I got a little amuse geule of raw salmon with a itty bitty dab of Meyer lemon sauce, a couple of juice sacs from a pink grapefruit, and miniscule shavings of cucumber. It was absolutely delicious! The salmon was impeccably fresh and the acidity of the grapefruit matched perfectly with its oceanic unctuousness.
Then came the burger. It was a huge thing, height-wise at least, cut in half to display the filling. It was served perfectly medium-rare, with bloody juices soaking into the bun. But it was difficult to eat and very messy. The bun was a little small and since it was soggy, hard to handle. The meat itself was very fresh, but seemingly unseasoned, even with salt and pepper, and far far too lean for a burger. The short rib - usually one of my favorite cuts of beef because it is fatty and delicious, was stringy and dry and also flavorless. And the small bit of foie gras was sadly overcooked (properly prepared foie should be almost melting in texture, like room-temperature butter). It also was not seasoned. The accompanying fries, on the other hand, were perfect - slender, crispy, and salted. They were served with a trio of dipping sauces: ketchup, mustard, and mayo. I would have been satisfied with some home-made mayo, but this stuff seemed to be Hellman's.
They were selling the hell out of that burger though - I saw at least a dozen come out of the kitchen, served to everyone from businessmen to skinny fashionistas who ate every last morsel. But I wasn't impressed.
Has Daniel Boulud been fooling everyone? Well, no, if the rest of his menus are anything like that amuse, he does know what he's doing. I think he should stay out of the burger business though.
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