I’m never at a loss for a good burger in the city, and of course I have my favorites that I return to time after time. So when new places open up, if they aren’t immediately super-interesting, or at least super-convenient, I let them fall off my radar.
Such is the case with Fresh N Fast Burgers, which opened over a year and a half ago on East 23rd Street, just off Park Avenue. I don’t find myself in the Flatiron area all that often any more, so I live with missing out on food “happenings” in that area.
That’s where Groupon comes in. A modest push in the right direction — $5 to get $10 worth of the Fresh N Fast menu — led me to an after-work excursion in the wrong direction to check them out.
In case the outside color scheme didn’t tip you off… yeah, this is pretty much exactly what an In-N-Out menu looks like, down to the font. With New York prices, naturally.
Armed with my Groupon, I definitely overordered. In addition to the classic cheeseburger, those would be cheese fries and a chocolate shake. And for kicks, a grilled cheese, which I don’t remember seeing on the In-N-Out in-store menu, but is definitely available (on the “secret” menu, if it isn’t listed at the counter).
First up, the grilled cheese, which is of course a cheeseburger without the burger. I added grilled onions to it, and were they ever added for my fifty cents. The bun doesn’t make for a great bread substitute — it’s too sweet, too chewy for a sandwich without meat to balance, but it was all right. It seemed like there was way too much cheese, but that could just have been the temperature by the time I started eating; the American cheese was solidifying fairly rapidly. For $3.49, it’s a worthwhile experience once in a while.
Our star, the cheeseburger. Normally I’d get a double, but I felt like trying the F&F in its purest form first. Standard toppings include lettuce, tomato and the special sauce, with grilled onions added once again.
First bite, and yes, it’s got a lot in common with In-N-Out from what I could recall of my last trip West. A thick char to puncture, into a well-seasoned patty, cooked easily medium-well. It wasn’t at all dry or crumbly. The tomato provided a nice sweetness, and I’m glad ketchup appeared nowhere near the burger. The sauce, sort of a mustard-mayo, provided a little bite as well. The bun held up, but it’s rather chewy and on the sweet side, though that toasted surface needs to be on every burger bun.
The french fries are almost certainly not created fresh from potatoes at Fresh & Fast, unlike its West coast idol. These looked to be recently frozen. No matter, as they tasted fine. However, the cheese sauce? Fail. Big, honking fail. While I understand that the cheese sauce isn’t exactly 100% cheese, it came out mostly congealed and not liquid, and was just… squirted on there. It tasted terrible as well, and I eventually just ate around the cheesy fries and enjoyed the well-cooked naked fries. Do yourself a favor and avoid the fifty-cent add-on.
Normally I’d just get a soda or lemonade, but, you know, Groupon. So chocolate shake it was. I liked this a lot — it didn’t taste like bad chocolate flavoring, and it had some creaminess to it. Fries dipped in it came out improved, too, a hallmark for any milkshake.
All this food, with tax, cost under $16.00. For what I ate, that’s a pretty good price. I definitely had some letdowns, but overall, it’s an interesting restaurant. Service was friendly, but since the food is made to order it’ll take close to ten minutes to receive and enjoy. For the most part, it’s worth the wait, and I’ll be back. Maybe next time I’ll ask for a Double-Double Animal Style, and see what they do.