Our First (and Probably Last) Look at LT Burger
Last week, LT Burger (40th btw. 5th and 6th) opened just outside of Bryant Park last week just two days later than expected. The original LT Burger is in Long Island’s Sag Harbor, and was getting some compliments from Lunch’ers who had tried their burgers there. Although I knew there were only a few choices on the menu under $10, I wanted to see what this place was all about. I thought hell, if Guy Fieri is getting so much attention with a $25 chicken parm, LT Burger deserves a shot too.
I’m happy to report… although this is not what one would call a good spot for a cheap midtown lunch, I actually got a pretty good feeling about the place. It reminds me of a midscale bar/restaurant/gastropub you would find in the suburbs or in college towns. As much as I hate to admit… I do enjoy that kind of bar from time to time; it’s something I don’t see much of in my regular stomping grounds in Queens and Midtown. AND, more than anything, I am really looking forward to doing a ML Happy Hour visit to LT Burger because they do have a happy hour special with cheaper eats (albeit probably much smaller than regular portions) and $5 decent beer from 5-7. Expect that very soon.
For lunch, there are upsides and downsides. Let’s start with the upsides. The menu has more than just burgers, and with an open kitchen and menu envisioned by fancy Chef Laurent Tourondel, everything that came out of the kitchen looked great. There are items like turkey meatball soup; tomato, burrata (fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream), and grilled bacon; and kosher fried pickles. Notable on the menu burger-wise were the “Smashed Smoke” with black pepper bacon, NY state cheddar, Spanish onion, and sweet catch-up; the “American kobe” with portobello, Wisconsin emmentaler, baby spinach, and truffle paste; and the “7 Peppercorn” with mountain blue, port caramelized onions, and mushrooms. They also had turkey, chicken, pork, fish, bunless, and veggie options. Shakes are their sweet specialty, and there are more flavors than the typical chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. They’ve got flavors like black forest maraschino, macaron, and caramel popcorn. They’ve also got floats and other sweets (including a fried oreo) on their full menu, available here.
And just for lunchers, they have a special cash register at the front for people ordering takeout. It was pretty bustly when I left at about 12:45.
And now the downsides. If all you want is a shake for lunch, you’re golden on the prices; they range from $6 to $8. But if you want something savory, you are going to be hard pressed to keep the meal under $10. I really wanted the 7 Peppercorn, but it was 13 bucks! The only burger I could afford was “The Standard”. At $9 for a 7-ounce burger, it came with no cheese, just lettuce, onion, pickle, and tomato on a potato bun. Sure, some of the starters and shakes were under $10, but how could I do a first look at a restaurant called LT Burger without eating a burger?
So, The Standard it was. I could bitch about the price all day long, but at the end of the day, it was a very good burger. And honestly, there was something very refreshing about having such a simple burger with traditional toppings plus ketchup and mustard. Usually I add blue cheese and something spicy or pickled, but this experience forced me to remember burger purity.
I like my meat cooked rare, but I find restaurants’ interpretations of rare vary… so the first time I try a burger or steak at at a restaurant, I always order medium rare to make sure the meat is at least warm. The burger was cooked as I think it should be, although I might order a rare next time. I could’ve used it a little more bloody. I liked the subtle sweetness of the potato roll, and I also appreciated that the roll was sturdy enough to sop up the burger juices; although the burger was greasy and good, it wasn’t a fall-apart mess. All I got with the burger on the side was a pickle (fries are an extra $3.75 – $5.00 depending on what kind you get). It was an interesting pickle, but still tasty; it was much more salty than vinegary. But unfortunately, just the burger and pickle didn’t fill me up.
LT Burger, 8 W. 40th Street, 212.582.8200