Big Nick’s Burger Joint
After writing up my post on Bouchon Bakery at a Starbucks on Broadway (don’t ask me which one- I’m still not sure), Hagan of 93plates and I headed up Broadway to Big Nick’s. I don’t think either of us was really ready to eat another meal, but… what can ya do?
This sign over our booth told us what was what.
If that wasn’t clear enough, there was this one hung over where I sat. There were a ton of cute little signs/sayings up around the store that I appreciated and added to the divey but local joint place atmosphere
When I’d first heard we were going to Big Nick’s, I briefly Google’d and found this post by BLD Project mentioning something about a spinach appetizer. (And there may or may not be video footage later on Hagan’s blog of me blushing furiously while mumbling that I am allergic to spinach but I’m going to eat it anyway.) I did eat it, and I did not have an allergic reaction (which happens when the spinach is frozen… don’t ask me why? I bet someone will speak up and explain it to me, because I have tried organic, local, super cooked, lightly cooked, raw, everything… and the only spinach that doesn’t make my tongue itch now is frozen!)… and it was fantastic. Served hot with feta strewn throughout the entire thing, we both started scarfing it down – despite our HUGE breakfast and full, aching bellies – commenting how great it was. My thoughts were “I want to try making this at home!” and I will, eventually. Good stuff, great flavoring, well seasoned… we were off to an excellent start.
Because Big Nick’s Burger Joint is also Big Nick’s Pizza Joint, we had to try pizza! A Sicilian slice was ordered and came quickly.
The requisite upskirt shows a good browning on the crust, but unfortunately, biting into this slice was disappointing. I have limited experience with Sicilian pizza, but something tells me slices are not meant to be doughy, soft, and flavorless. Sorry… this is a resounding pass.
The white slice, on the other hand, our waitress told us was very popular and very tasty.
The upskirt was much less promising than the Sicilian – no browning, no crispness – and biting into the slice confirmed the texture was a bit on the soft side. However, the flavor of the cheeses – there’s a ton of ricotta on there – was totally yummy. Perhaps a return trip with a request to ‘brown that shit extra hard’ might be in order… There is hope for this slice.
Hagan had read that the waffle fries were a pass, while the onion rings were solid. Hmmm, I just don’t prefer these types of onion rings (battered, I believe, as opposed to breaded) – I like the ones with almost a crumb coating on the outside. These were fried properly and tasty enough, but not quite what I like in an onion ring. I’d pass on these next time.
Just to cover more bases, when the waitress told us the wings were also a popular pick, we went with them. Crispy enough, not that spicy (which can be good or bad, depending on your stance)… these were kind of a FAIL. Hagan simply stated, “I’m kind of a wing snob,” and left it at that, and I found myself feeling very underwhelmed by the wings. Neither spicy nor sweet, just crispy underneath a smattering of sauce… meh. And the carrot sticks were cooked. I don’t know why. They were definitely cooked, and not just barely cooked – they were cooked. No crunch. That disturbed me for some reason.
Then there was the final pick; the waitress had immediately pointed this out to us when we’d asked her for recommendations.
The bistro burger with seasoned waffle fries – which were quite tasty, by the way, and fried very crispy.
There was a sign up that just said, “This changes everything” under a picture of a bistro burger. Gruyere, mushroom, caramelized onions on toasted (grilled? griddled?) challah bread that had been drowned in butter…
(I thought I took a bite, then a photograph, but apparently not. The point was to show how much juicier it became when I picked it up and inadvertently squeezed it a little in doing so.) Well, just look at it. Yes, this changes everything. This changes my opinion of toppings on burgers (I’m a bit of a purist). This changed my life. This changed my mind. This… changes… everything.
The oil dripping down my hand pleasantly reminded me that this is not your ‘eat me every day’ burger, but it brought the mouthfuls to a whole new level. Let me put it this way: despite the intense discomfort in my belly from eating about 30 lbs of sugar and butter for breakfast, despite the screams from my head “What are you DOING? NOOOOOO PUT IT DOWN” – despite all of my options to take one bite and put it down… I kept eating it. The mushrooms, the cheese, the onions, the buttery challah… and that intense, meaty, juicy, whoa patty… combined to form what can only be described as “likewhoayouwantitnow” – RIGHT NOW. Amazing.
I do note, however, to calm my purist side, I did eat the last two bites of the patty completely plain and separated from its other components. While the burger patty itself (which had an intense texture going on that caused me to muse aloud and wonder if they grind their own meat and/or choose their own blend of meats from which to make the burgers, and do they add pork fat to this???) was insanely juicy, it was also near completely unseasoned – just a sprinkle of salt just before cooking would do wonders to uplift this to all new levels! (Pre-salting is a no-no; seasoning just before cooking is the way to go, says Serious Eats.) Perhaps this is in light of all the flavors of the extras on the Bistro Burger – the cheese, the onions, the mushrooms, the bread – but I do wonder if they then salt regular burgers that are not being topped… (this is a pet peeve of mine – when burgers are not seasoned!)
Things to wonder and things to find out when I return…
Yvo says: I’m not sure this is destination dining, though we sure had some really delicious dishes – most notably the spinach appetizer (which may not be on the menu anymore; ask the servers though, if you describe it, they know what you mean and will bring it to you) and the Bistro Burger. I’m sure there’s more there that are must-haves, though that’s what we found – for now! Mmm, Bistro Burger… you once-in-a-long-while treat, you. The spinach, though, can be eaten all the time I bet… mmmmm. Prices didn’t seem exorbitant, though again, the meal was comped by the establishment for 93plates.