For years, I’ve heard of Donovan’s in Jackson Heights having great burgers, but I kind of ignored what I heard. Mostly because I am a stubborn ass, or because I didn’t really destination-dine in Queens that much, but you know, people change. Plus when I recently asked on Facebook for people’s burger recommendations, Donovan’s came up frequently enough that I had to give it consideration. People who don’t live in Queens or anywhere near Donovan’s were talking about it… that’s gotta mean something, right?
I snagged my buddy EL for lunch, and off we went. EL’s been here many, many times before, and was happy when I suggested the place. He was still surprised when I ordered a root beer and was brought the above – guess he didn’t know they served root beer. Whatever, I was happy that it was Saranac and not some huge mass produced root beer. Score!
Despite the extremely humid and gross weather (this was a lunch date, mind you – the pictures are just dark because it was super, super dark insde the Irish pub), EL insisted that their cream-of soups were the BESTEST and he’d order it no matter what the weather, especially since he doesn’t always know the next time he’ll be back. Cream of mushroom… he said he’s tried all of the soups except cream of celery because “I don’t like celery that much but I bet it’s still really good” – in fact, his girlfriend took a sip, then decided to order her own bowl. I opted not to… sorry!
When I first mentioned Donovan’s, EL had actually said “Burgers are good but wings are the BEST!!!” I LOVE wings. I’m super picky about my wings. I am a wing kind of person. He raved about how the sauce, which is served on the side, is perfect, just right, a little kick to it, a little tang from vinegar but not too much, just well balanced and all that jazz. He tried to teach me how to eat the wings the “right” way (I’m sure you can imagine how well that went…) and I just ignored him. So, the wings. Meaty, properly fried to a good crispness, and the sauce on the side is a nice way to ensure the wings stay crispy. Best wings ever? No. Good? Sure. Everyone has their own preferences, though, and these don’t fall within mine. (I like crispy sauced wings that are very meaty… I had a place that did them perfectly to my tastes but they went downhill and c’est la vie!)
But now the burger! I got mine simply with American cheese (their standard), and of course requested mayo on the side. EL told us we should order it one grade below how we’d like it cooked, so I ordered mine medium rare, as I like my burgers just medium. Came with poorly fried, mealy, thick fries… blegh… and a slice of tomato with some lettuce.
Cross-section. It’s kind of hard to tell, but it was cooked properly to medium, though EL’s burger looked muchhhhh pinker than mine. Maybe he ate his faster and mine just continued cooking (I wouldn’t be surprised, I’m a slow eater). It was good… definitely could use a little more salt on the meat itself, but it was seasoned (which is my big issue with many burgers, surprisingly unseasoned meat). It was big, juicy, and a bit messy as oil dribbled down my hand and got everywhere (it wasn’t just me! EL had the same problem!). Enjoyable… but again, boiling it down to personal preferences, I like my burgers smaller (which is part of why Shake Shack is my perfect burger), much smaller. This is pretty good for what it is – a pub burger – but that just isn’t my favorite kind of burger in the world.
Yvo says: Pretty close to the train station, and I could definitely see coming back to grab a bite with friends – on a Saturday afternoon around 1pm, the place was pretty empty, so it would be great to just grab a burger, a beer, chat it up with friends and hang out for a while. Service was neither horrible nor excellent – it was just right for this type of establishment – and I definitely would go back to chill. There was actually also a party of some sort going on in “The Library Room” (as EL called it; I didn’t see the room), too, a family party with people in party dresses etc. so I would say this is a very fun/laidback/casual place without being a divey bar. The food is tasty… but not omfg you have to go here so good *tears* – I can’t comfortably call it destination dining. Sorry!
recommended overall but the burger was not as amazing as everyone made it sound…