Treehaus Makes Good, Monster Burgers
As a general rule, the more options a restaurant has, the more likely they are to be mediocre ones. Think about it. Who’s more likely to make a better torta? A Mexican joint that only makes tacos, burritos, and tortas, or a deli that makes tortas plus a plethora of other sandwiches, plus soups, salads, ramen, and who knows what elese? Hint, it’s the Mexican joint.
That’s why you wouldn’t expect a place like Treehaus (3rd Ave. btw. 50+51st), which has a menu that reads like a Russian novel, to do one thing really well. They’re far more likely to do a few things pretty well. Still, when I saw that Treehaus had a small section of its menu dedicated to ‘smashed’ burgers, I had a feeling that might be one area where they excelled. Having eaten a couple, I think I was right.
Treehaus offers quite a few burgers that range from simple – the Haus burger with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and ‘Haus sauce’ – to the monstrous – the Hawaiian burger with ham, smoked ricotta, grilled pineapple, avocado, tomato, and a fried egg. Not coincidentally, those are the two burgers I tried.
Let’s start with that Hawaiian monster ($8.95). It might be as tall as it is wide, but is a great burger when you get each ingredient all in one bite. The pineapple is sweet, the avocado smooth, and the ricotta smoky as advertised. The ham was what you would expect from ham, and went well with the pineapple. Unfortunately, my fried egg was overcooked, the yolk not runny at all. Still, all those ingredients, which could have overwhelmed each other, worked together to create a darned good burger.
If you want something a bit more simple, the Haus burger ($6.95) was equally good. The cheese – both yellow and white cheddar – was well melted, and the Haus sauce added a nice zing (I’m not quite sure what was in it, but it tasted similar to the secret sauce you get at most burger joints.
The thing that really makes these burgers so good is they have that grilled flavor that you get at a backyard barbecue. This is odd, of course, because Treehaus describes the burgers as smashed, making you think they’d be cooked on a flattop. However they’re made, whether on a grill, flattop, or by alchemy, the beef itself has great flavor.
I do have to mention that there seems to be some inconsistency in the cooking, though. While my Haus burger was a perfectly juicy medium-rare, my Hawaiian was decidedly well done. I would note, however, that I arrived late to pick up the Hawaiian burger, so that could have accounted at least a bit for the doneness of both the beef and the egg. Luckily, the myriad toppings on the Hawaiian saved it from being dry.
My coworkers tried some of the other burgers available, and all reported nothing but good things. The JME burger ($7.95) with bacon, bleu cheese spread, baby arugula, and roasted tomato jam was described as well, bacon-y and bleu cheesy. The Shroom burger ($8.95) with Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms, baby spinach, caramelized onions, porcini powder, and black garlic aioli also garnered a good review, though you’ll need a pretty discerning palate to taste the porcini powder amid all that.
And how could you have a burger without fries? We tried all Treehaus had to offer: regular french fries ($2.50), sweet potato fries ($3.00), and onion rings ($3.00). Both regular and sweet potato were good, the regular particularly so, but the onion rings really stood out. They were thick cut, well-battered, and made with red onion, a different, and nice, choice.
So there you have it. There are a lot of places in the area that makes burgers, and Treehaus should not be forgotten among them. And one more thing before I give Treehaus a rest: they applied for a liquor license. Burger and beer for lunch, anyone?
Treehaus, 830 3rd Ave (btw 50+51st), (212) 355-9855