Nickel Diner’s Monica May: ‘Umami…Irritates The S@#t Out of Me’

Go ahead, have two
Go ahead, have two Photo: Yogma via Flickr

The Umami Burger backlash continues! In an interview with Squid Ink, Nickel Diner’s Monica May avoids Amy Pressman-esque doublespeak and goes straight for the burger chain’s jugular. “Umami, to be honest with you, irritates the shit out of me,” she claims when the name comes up. May continues, “It’s two burgers and a beer, and it’s fucking 60 bucks…And that’s what bothers me. As a chef, I can go out to eat and know what I want, but there are a lot of people who can’t afford that. They go to these places, and they’re expecting all of this, and I think they’re getting ripped off.” Whoa! To take a scientific approach to the contents of May’s venom, we decided it was time to break out the old abacus (even though we were promised we’d never have to do math if we became writers). How do we quantify such a statement?

Looking at the online menus at both Umami Burger and May’s Nickel Diner, we see that there’s not a whole heap of difference in prices when ordering two burgers. Even though Umami Burger does cost just slightly more.

Nickel’s burgers are priced between $8.75 to $9.75. They don’t serve alcohol, but pretending they do, we’ll assign a $6 price to their brews. Taking the most expensive burger price (excepting the $10.25 tuna burger) and multiplying it by two, then adding the cost of a six dollar beer, we end up with a total of $25.50.

Umami’s burgers range in price from $10 to $12, meaning both places have their ten dollar options. Meanwhile, draft beers at Umami Burger Santa Monica and Urban are priced at six bucks, with a range of bottled beers between five and nineteen dollars (for Chimay and the like). Taking two of Umami’s most expensive burgers and multiplying them by two then adding the cost of a six-dollar beer, we arrive at $30, exactly HALF of what Monica May claims two Umami Burgers and a beer will cost and only $4.50 more than a similar experience at Nickel.

To total it up:

Two of the costliest burgers and a (non-existent) beer at Nickel Diner: $25.50

Two of the costliest burgers and a draft Leffe Blonde at Umami Burger: $30

Doing the damned math yourself before you slag off your competition: Priceless.

Q & A with Monica May and Kristen Trattner of Nickel Diner: Girl on Girl Food + Maple Bacon Donuts on Skid Row [Squid Ink]

Nickel Diner’s Monica May: ‘Umami…Irritates The S@#t Out of Me’