BurgerFi

I love New York magazine’s restaurant reviews. They’re the best in town—far better than Time Out New York’s attempts at recommendations and superior to even The New York Times, which strives to delineate the entire back story of the food they’re eating. Really, I just want to know whether it’s good or not.

So, when the Underground Gourmet recommended BurgerFi in the “cheap eats” edition of the magazine, I figured I had to try it.

burgerfi double cheeseburger

double cheeseburger

Situated on 2nd Avenue between 81st and 82nd streets, BurgerFi loudly claims its spot two doors down from the low-budget Insomnia Cookies and a few steps away from a frozen yogurt shop. Bright colors—blues, greens, yellows—invite you in, where you will undoubtedly meet a long line of patrons who have likely also read the “cheap eats” issue. The seating situation isn’t especially crazed, but, should it cause you anxiety, you should know you can always take your food to the East River park.

So, how was the menu? Well, decent enough, but a complete, blatant rip-off of the Shake Shack. From custard to concretes to Martin’s potato rolls, BurgerFi eagerly emulates the gold standard burger stand. But there are a few problems with BurgerFi’s approach. One, the meat isn’t nearly as good as the Shake Shack’s LaFrieda blend, nor is the sear as perfect. Two, their standard burger is a double, and that may alienate some (not this eater, though). Three, the fries are wooden and in desperate need of salt, unlike the crisp, crinkle cut fries with ample salt shaken upon them from the Shake Shack.

burgerfi fries and onion rings

onion rings and fries

The meal had its moments, though. The onion rings are fantastic. Gigantic circular pieces of onion are deep-fried, resulting in a delicious, thick coating that certainly doesn’t need ketchup. And the soda machine is redeeming. They have one of those special soda fountains that allows you to select which soda you’d like to try—from a panoply of options—and which flavoring you’d like in your soda. I opted for the Coke Zero with raspberry syrup—very good.

The verdict? Don’t bother with BurgerFi. If you happen to be on the Upper East Side with a hankering for a burger, just go to the Shake Shack on 86th. Its spacious outdoors area is the perfect venue for a summertime dinner or lunch.

BurgerFi

1571 Second Ave. (between 81st and 82nd streets)

Yorkville, New York

Take the 4/5/6 to 86th Street and walk east a few avenues, then south. 

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Wild Turkey Smokehouse

When My Dining Partner (MDP) received an email about a Groupon for Wild Turkey Smokehouse in Sunnyside, I was skeptical. What exactly is this smokehouse? I wondered. Their website isn’t exactly glamorous. But, I told MDP to get the Groupon anyway–on a whim–and we tried it tonight.

wild turkey smokehouse truffle macaroni and cheese

truffle macaroni and cheese

Situated on a quiet street south of Queens Boulevard, Wild Turkey Smokehouse is easy to miss. Its door is decorated with Seamless and Grub Hub stickers–their website is hooked directly into Grub Hub–and just inside is a long bar  with a handful of tables spread around a pool table in the rear.

Our waitress was also the bartender, and so, was extremely busy with various patrons. She did her best to accommodate everyone, but, truth be told, Wild Turkey needs to hire some waitstaff, especially if they expect to generate a returning-customer crowd.

Their 8.5 x 11 stapled menu expresses the level of sophistication exuded by the restaurant itself, but that’s not a bad thing. I appreciated Wild Turkey’s simple decor and flavor. Comfort favorites like onion rings and beer-battered mozzarella sticks figure prominently on the first page of the menu, and a lengthy list of sandwiches and burgers makes an impression on the second page. On the final page, there’s a short drinks list, that, for some reason, doesn’t include alcoholic drinks (which they have aplenty), but features a San Pellegrino beverage (that they didn’t have) and ginger ale, a crowd favorite according to their website.

We opted for the onion rings and truffle macaroni and cheese to start. While the onion rings were fairly standard, the macaroni and cheese tasted extraordinary. Made with gruyere and a bechemel sauce, the mac and cheese was extremely creamy and delicious.

wild turkey smokehouse mushroom and gruyere burger

mushroom and gruyere burger

For entrees, we ordered the pulled pork sandwich and the mushroom and gruyere (I know, more gruyere) burger, which both came with our choice of fried potato (waffle fries, steak fries or sweet potato fries). Topped with coleslaw–an interesting choice–the pulled pork sandwich featured large, succulent shards of pork that made for a supremely delectable sandwich. I enjoyed my burger, whose char was so strong, I could barely detect the toppings. My steak fries tasted like they were straight out of a bowling alley of my youth, and the sweet potato fries were incredible.

I was so full by the end of the meal that we didn’t get dessert. It’s probably for the better, considering it took us about 15 minutes for the waitress to notice we were finished with our dinners.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Wild Turkey Smokehouse, and will probably order food from there sometime. They are, after all, just a few blocks away from my apartment. But, overall, the experience wasn’t stupendous, not that it should have been. But one can always hope.

Wild Turkey Smokehouse

3935 47th Avenue (between 40th Street and 39th Place)

Sunnyside, Queens

Take the 7 to 40th Street and walk south on 40th Street to 47th Avenue. Turn right.