Staple steak and burger house with a Michelin star in New York
Minetta Tavern is a Michelin starred restaurant which describes itself as a “Parisian steakhouse meets classic New York City tavern”. I went because I was on the prowl for the best burger in town and was led here by numerous sources, including the late Anthony Bourdain. The atmosphere was buzzing from start to finish and service a little unique (see expanded notes) however, it was good to try a burger as fabled as here. It wasn’t what I would describe as the pinnacle burger as there was a mound of meat in relation to bun with not enough elements to balance, but it was definitely a decent plate of the classic. It’s almost a right of passage to make sure you come here to experience New York and once done, you can add it to the NYC bucket list. Post Script: there are other choices on the menu other than burgers and it also serves brunch as well.
First things first that I have to get off the chest was the hustle and bustle. I would prepare yourself for an energetic environment where rushing waiters were almost expecting diners to move out of their way and it was a little bit of a surprise to overhear a waiter saying to himself how “…hot that girl (a diner) is right now….” to himself. Just a tad out of the norm, to experience. Therefore it was not the refined venue that I was led to believe, but if you are looking for a fast environment, then this will be ok for your night out. Where the service was good however was through the numerous top-ups of water.
Wine glasses are thick-rimmed and tabletops are paper (on top of white cotton cloths) adding to the feel of this popular restaurant being of Parisian / tavern descent. White bread was cold and very average (company made not on-premises) as was butter, apart from being well malleable. Again, this all falls into what a classic bistro would be like and even though I know this is a deliberate move, at the general prices of the menu, I would have thought more efforts would be easily accomplished and better here.
On to the burger. I opted for the Black Label for $30, with my glass of cabernet being a third of that. All the meat is sourced from Creekstone farm and the prime rib is aged for 45 days with no salt and no pepper of any kind. The brioche bun is from Balthazar bakery and was delightfully soft for the burger. The burger itself was very good quality and obviously well-rested as there was only one drip through the whole meal. The caramelised onion on the top saw to the seasoning well and was great that the fries were made on site – these were very good, no question. If you order this Black Label or the Minetta burger, it will be cooked exactly to order.
Service was not exactly polished – an uncertain waiter asked if an order was for the table he was bringing it and another waiter was walking away from me under eye contact when I was flagging him down so I had to be assertive to stop him walking away. Maybe this is more of an NYC thing but surprising to be in a Michelin starred restaurant in America at the same time, even in spite of the Michelin criteria. If you are happy with the vibrant tussle of staff, this place will be right up your street. You can also sit at the bar to eat for walk-ins, something that is not clear on the website.
Probably the best quality burger I’ve had, just not my overall favourite – still chuffing good though.
Food Grade: 73%
Location (Click google logo for directions)