The Lever Burger, left; the Juicy Lucy, right.Photos: Melissa HomAs Andrew Knowlton points out in his Bon Appétit blog today, luxe restaurant burgers are all the rage. Lever House introduced a new version on its lunch menu this week from Bradford Thompson, the chef who helped create the DB Burger. Franklin Becker’s Juicy Lucy debuted at Sheridan Square this week, too. How then do the two burgers stack up?
Premise: The Lever Burger is a masterfully constructed, classic American burger. No foie gras, no truffles, no duck fat: just beef, orthodox toppings, and a grilled white bun. The Juicy Lucy takes its cue from a regional specialty in Minneapolis in which cheese is embedded inside the burger, so as to ooze out upon biting. Advantage: None.
Burger: Both burgers are made from meat mogul Pat LaFrieda’s ground beef, the gold standard, but Sheridan Square’s mix includes some short rib, which gives it an added depth of flavor missing from Lever’s chuck-and-brisket mix. Advantage: Sheridan Square.
Bun and Toppings: The Lever Burger comes on a grilled Portuguese roll that more than holds up its load. The Juicy Lucy is served on a comparatively fluffy brioche bun that submissively disintegrates as you eat. The Lever burger has oven-roasted tomatoes, house-cured pickles, and intense, wine-and-balsamic-stewed onions. The Juicy Lucy has straight-up grilled red onions and bacon. Advantage: Lever House
Verdict: Lever House’s is more composed and masterful, a burger for the ages. But for a visceral, messy, primordially gratifying burger experience, the Juicy Lucy delivers the goods. New York is big enough for both of these, the Carnegie Hall and the Bowery Ballroom of burgers.