Tag Archives: Minetta Tavern

The most incredulous food fad in New York is the overpricing of simple, classic dishes. By adding lobster to omelettes, caviar to pizza, or gold leafs to ice cream sundaes, you get a very expensive gimmicky dish that becomes the most talked about thing on your menu, but probably the least ordered. The fact that somebody can and will spend $1000 on an ice cream sundae concerns and dismays me. I spend most of my income on food, but I draw the line somewhere. Maybe I’d think differently if I had some extra cash lying around (I mean alot of extra cash).

On a much smaller (and affordable) scale, is the most talked about dish from last year. And the number one item on Time Out’s Top Ten: the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern. Keith McNally’s very popular bistro offers a hot bar scene, modern takes on American classic food, and a secluded, old-time feel to the warm tavern. The restaurant has no windows (or they’re all covered up) and you have to enter through an intimidating black curtain before you can even make your plea for a table.

We got to Minetta Tavern early in the evening so we waited only about 20 minutes for two stools at the bar. The menu consists of expensive steaks, pasta dishes, chicken, seafood, and two burgers. The Minetta burger is a reasonable $16 with cheddar cheese and fries. But the burger we had to get was the Black Label Burger coming in at a whopping $26!!

Sure it’s nowhere near the $1000 caviar lobster pizza, but it’s still a bit more than I’m used to spending on a burger. How do they get away with it? Well, their Black Label burger is all about the meat blend. Pat LaFrieda, who is a superstar of the butcher world (who knew there was such a thing?) makes a special blend just for them. It’s mostly a secret, but we do know the burger contains dry aged ribeye, skirt steak, and brisket. The ratios and any other ingredients remain a mystery.

One thing I know is not added to the burger is cheese. Sure, we get lettuce, tomato, and caramelizied onions. Plus a side of crispy fries and one delicious pickle. But for 26 bones, you’d also expect to get some special artisanal cheese or something. Not so. This guy is all about the meat. And the burger is so rich and juicy that you don’t need cheese. I never thought I’d say that.

So was the burger worth the money? I will say it was certainly the richest burger I’ve ever had. I equate it more to foie gras than beef. I never once thought to add mustard, ketchup, or anything else. I knew I would ruin this thing (much like water would ruin an expensive Scotch). It was seasoned well and incredibly juicy. But maybe I’m just a simple guy. I’d be fine with a well-prepared burger made with fine ingredients. I’ve never been one who needs the finEST ingredients. I just need quality, flavor, and ingenuity. Sure, this now legendary burger has all those qualities, but it also comes with a price tag. And until I’m rich and famous from my webseries, I don’t need to spend this much money again on a burger.

Would Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger make my Top 100 of the year? Maybe it would because it’s definitely meaty and hearty. But I can only give it an 8 out of 10 since I’m not sure the experience is worth the price tag.


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