Friday, May 14, 2010

Secret Menus Galore!!!

Holy awesome!  We knew about the In N Out secret menu, but all the rest?!?  OMG, we think we're in fast food heaven.  We can't wait to try some of these out.

Our fave part, however, are people's comments to the article below.  People sure do take their secret menus seriously!

24 Secret Restaurant Menus Revealed

Mention "secret menus" and many people think of hidden functions on Blackberries or Xbox games. Actually, secret menus refers to items you can special order at restaurants that aren't mentioned on standard menus.

Some places, like Chipotle Mexican Grills, have a whole secret menu that's limited only by your imagination. On the other hand, In-N-Out Burger's secret menu" is so unsecret it's posted on their Web site. Kind of takes the cool factor out of having the inside scoop, doesn't it?

If you're looking to impress a date or just like that feeling of "knowing the chef," here are 24 restaurants that offer secret menus. Remember, not all may participate in the hidden menu. However, if you try to order something and the server looks at you with a blank look, don't give up. Describe the dish and usually they'll make it for you anyway.

Just keep it under your hat.

1. Arbys
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich - This spin on the cordon bleu is a chicken breast with a piece of ham on top of it with melted Swiss cheese.
  • Wet Fries - Hot fries smothered in cheese sauce.
  • French Dip – This is a classic Arby’s menu item that is off most menu’s but can still be ordered.

2. Blimpie
  • Cheese Trio - This sandwich is a no meat alternative to the normal Blimpie sandwiches, and combines three different types of cheese.

3. Burger King
  • Mustard Whopper - This is a normal Whopper with one difference, mustard is spread onto the sandwich instead of mayo.
  • Veggie Whopper - A great alternative for vegetarians who love the flavor of Burger King, the beef is substituted for with a veggie patty.
  • BLT - A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich that comes in either a small or medium size.
  • Ham and Cheese - A classic sandwich option that you can have served either hot or cold.
  • Frings - An order of frings will split your French fry order with onion rings.
  • Suicide Burger - This is a large burger including four meat patties, four slices of cheese, bacon and special sauce.
  • Rodeo Burger - A burger assembled with onion rings and bbq sauce on it.
  • BK Club - This sandwich is the Original chicken sandwich with bacon, tomato, and cheese.

Burger King Secret Menu
Left to Right: Rodeo BurgerSuicide Burger.

4. Chick-fil-a
  • Fried Club - This is their normal club sandwich with the fried chicken substituted for the grilled chicken.

5. Chili’s
  • Chili – This food is the name sake of the company, so even though it has been off the menu for many years they will still make you a bowl of chili if you request it.

6. Chipotle
Chipolte will make you any combination of ingredients they have available to them. Listed below are some of the favorites.
  • Nachos - Made with tortilla chips, your choice of salsa and meat, beans, and topped with a layer of cheese.
  • Quesadilla - These come in two sizes, the children’s size which is made with two soft taco shells layered with your choice of fillings, or the full size which is a normal burrito tortilla folded in half with your choice of fillings. You can get a side of salsa or sour cream for no additional charge with these.
  • Quesorito – A quesadilla with any of the fillings used in a burrito, rolled together and baked in the tortilla warmer. This is a crispier version of a quesadilla.

7. Dairy Queen
  • Chocolate Chip Blizzard - This blizzard sounds like your basic chocolate chip ice cream, but its not. It is made with quick to harden chocolate usually used on the dipping cones.
  • Banana Split Blizzard - All your basic banana split flavors blended together into a blizzard.
  • Jack and Jill Sundae - A classic sundae with marshmallow and hot fudge.
  • Lavender Blue Sundae - This is a blueberry sundae with marshmallow.
  • Frozen Hot Chocolate - In some places this is still on the menu seasonally, but basically it is hot chocolate blended with ice to give it a frozen crunch.
  • Peanut Buster Parfait - This is a multi level sundae combining fudge, vanilla soft serve, and peanuts.

8. Dunkin Doughnuts
  • Turbo Hot Coffee - An extra shot of expresso in your coffee.

9. Fat Burger
  • Hypocrite - A veggie burger topped with bacon.

10. In–N–Out Burger
Famous for its not-so-secret menu, all In-N-Out Burger employees should be aware of these options.
  • Double Meat – Two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, spread, and bun. You can always order onions either grilled or sliced.
  • 3 by Meat – Three beef patties, any veggies and sauce you desire with no cheese.
  • 3 x 3 – Three beef patties, three slices of cheese, veggies and bun.
  • 2 x 4 – For those who love cheese this is a great option, two meat patties with four slices of cheese.
  • 4 x 4 – Four beef patties, four slices of cheese, veggies, and a bun. A cure for anyone’s hunger
  • Grilled Cheese – 2 Slices of cheese melted with lettuce and tomato and a bun.
  • Protein Style – A low carb alternative to any burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun
  • Animal Style – A beef patty smothered in mustard before its cooked, with lettuce tomato, pickle, extra spread, and grilled onions.
  • Animal Style Fries – Cheese, spread, grilled onions, and pickles piled high on top of fries.
  • Flying Dutchman – Two meat patties and two slices of cheese, with nothing else not even a bun.
  • Fries Well Done – Fries cooked extra crispy, almost like potato chips.
  • Fries Light – Fries cooked less, they will be more tender and oily.
  • Neapolitan Shake – Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream blended together into one shake.
  • Extra Toast – Buns that have been left on the grill longer until they are extra crispy.
  • Veggie Burger / Wish Burger – This burger has no meat or cheese, but lots of grilled onions lettuce and sauce along with double tomatoes.
  • Cheese Fries – Fries with a layer of cheese melted on top.
  • Untoasted – Any burger with a bun that has not been toasted.
  • Mustard Grilled Patty – A burger with mustard spread on it before grilling.
  • Chopped Chilies – Diced jalapenos can be added to any burger.
  • Large & Extra Large Shakes – Although they are not on the menu they are available upon request.
  • 100 x 100 Burger – Although they are not on the menu they are available upon request.

11. Jamba Juice
Since Jamba Juice keeps the ingredients that create their hidden menu drinks under wraps all we have for you are the titles.
  • Pink Starburst
  • Raspberry Dreamin’
  • Pineapple Dreamin’
  • Bluetopia
  • Sourpatch Kid
  • Now and Later
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Apple Pie
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Strawberry Shortcake
  • Red Gummy Bear
  • White Gummy Bear
  • Chocolate Gummy Bear
  • Push Pop
  • Skittles

12. KFC/A&W
  • Poutine - This is a Canadian favorite that includes French fries, fried cheese curds, and gravy layered together.

13. Little Caesers
  • Stuffed Crust Pizza - If you ask for it they will make you a pizza with the cheese stuff crust made famous by Pizza Hut.

14. Long John Silvers
  • Side of Crumbs - This is a (Free!) box of fried batter parts that have fallen off the fried fish or chicken. Great to put on top of salads.

15. McDonalds
  • Biscuits and Gravy - This one may only be available in the South – but it’s the classic combination of gravy smothering hot biscuits.
  • McKinley Mac – A big Mac with quarter pounder patties.
  • Grilled Cheese - A bun grilled with American cheese inside.
  • Big Mac with Quarter Pounder Patties - This is great if you are looking to decrease the cost and calories of the classic Big Mac Sandwich. You get the entire flavor with less meat.
  • All American - This is a normal sized hamburger with only pickles and ketchup.
  • Big McChicken - This is a huge sandwich in which the chicken patties replace the bun.
  • Fries with Big Mac Sauce - Fries smothered in the secret and special big Mac Sauce.
  • Chicken and Waffles - This is a McGriddle sandwich with chicken in the middle.
  • Neopolitan Milk Shake - 1/3 vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams blended together into one shake.
  • McLeprichon - This shake is only available in March and is composed of the shamrock shake mixed with the chocolate shake making a mint chocolate shake.
  • Pie McFlurry - If you purchase a pie you can have it blended into your McFlurry.
  • McGangBang - This is a double cheeseburger with a chicken patty in between the two beef patties.
  • Land, Sea, and Air Burger - The Land, Sea, and Air burger, has a beef patty, chicken patty, and fillet-o-fish patty all piled high onto a bun.
  • Root Beer Float - You can pick any size of root beer and they will add the vanilla ice cream on top.
  • Coke Float - Any size of coke with ice cream. You can even get it with chocolate ice cream.
  • Monster Mac - A big Mac composed of 8 meat patties.
  • 2 Cheese Burger Meal Mac - Two cheese burgers, fries and a drink.

McDonalds Secret Menu
Left to Right: Monster MacGrilled CheeseMcGangBang.

16. Popeyes
  • Naked – Any Popeyes sandwich you can order “naked”, meaning their will be no breading on the meat.

17. Potbelly’s Secret Menu
  • Cheeseburger – This is a meatball sandwich with ketchup replacing the marinara and the addition of mustard, cheese, and pickles.
  • Fireball – A meatball sandwich with chili on top.
  • Wrecking ball – A combination of both the meatball sandwich and the wreck sandwich.

18. Sonic
  • Frito Pie - This is a southern favorite with layers of chili and fritos.
  • Grilled Ham and Cheese - This is your basic warm gooey ham and cheese sandwich.

19. Starbucks – With the large variety of different Starbucks franchises it is important to know what’s in any hidden menu drink you order. Many should know these options however, since they are not all the same just remember the ingredients in case they do not know and they will be happy to make the drink for you.
  • Biscotti Frapuccino - This is a typical frapuccino but it has a biscotti blended inside. You will have to purchase the biscotti separate when you are checking out, but you can have it in any flavor frap.
  • Short Drink - This is a less expensive version of any Starbucks drink. It is smaller than a tall with a lower price.
  • Red Eye - This is a shot of espresso in regular drip coffee.
  • Black Eye - This drink has 2 shots of espresso in regular drip coffee.
  • Green Eye - This drink includes 3 shots of espresso in regular drip coffee.
  • Poor Mans Latte - We recommend you do not tell your Barista you are planning on creating this drink when you order. Order an iced Americano with no water and half ice, then use the free milk on the side to mix it up to your standards.
  • Poor Mans Chai Latte - Same recommendation as above applies here. Order a Chai Tea Misto with extra foam, two tea bags, and half cinnamon and half vanilla syrup.
  • French Pressed Coffee - If you want coffee served fresh from a French press you may have it with any variety in the shop.
  • Chocolate Cream Frapuccino - This is a frapuccino made with chocolate syrup and chocolate frapuccino base.
  • Cake Batter Frap - Order a vanilla frappucino and ask for both the vanilla bean and almond flavorings. It will taste just like cake batter.
  • Crunchberry Frap - Flavored like the crunchberry cereal, this is a strawberrys and cream frappucino with hazelnut flavoring.
  • Strawberry Blended Lemonade - Although this had been taken off the menu, most locations will still blend the strawberry flavoring with lemonade for you.
  • London Fog - This is made with vanilla flavoring in Earl Gray Tea.
  • Zebra Mocha (also called a Tuxedo or Penguin Mocha) - This is a mix of the white chocolate and regular chocolate mochas.
  • Red Tux Mocha (also called Bleeding Penguin) - The same mix of white chocolate and regular chocolate mocha with raspberry flavoring.

20. Subway
  • Pizza Sub – This sub was taken of the menu in most locations when Subway began marketing itself as healthy alternative to fast food. However, upon request you can get the Pizza Sub which combines cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni.

21. Taco Bell
  • Cheesy Gordita Crunch – This is a seasonal favorite for many, however it can be ordered year round.
  • Green Sauce – Although this sauce is still available in most South West locations, if you request it at your local restaurant usually they will have it on hand.
  • Double Grilled Quesadilla – An extra crispy quesadilla.
  • Chili Cheese Burrito – A burrito filled with chili and cheese instead of the usual mixes.
  • Enchirito – This is a enchilada of beef, beans, cheese, diced onions, and red sauce.

22. Taco John’s
  • Ranch Burrito - We’re not certain what exactly is in the ranch burrito, however it appears to have either a beef or chicken option.
23. Wendy’s
  • Grand Slam - This burger has a total of four meat patties.
  • Big Bacon Classic - This is your classic burger with bacon.
  • Value Crispy Chicken Club – A reduced price Crispy Chicken sandwich with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
  • Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe – This value sized burger includes lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and ketchup.
  • Barnyard – A spicy chicken sandwich with ham, bacon and beef separated by cheese.

24. White Castle
  • Seasoned Fries - Classic fries with additional seasoning for flavor.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The World's Most Original Burgers

As of last summer...

We're not sure how we missed this article, but we did.  (Sorry.)

NYC's own Shake Shack, Wall Street Burger Shoppe, DB Bistro Moderne and Burger Joint made the cut.  Alas, no SF institutions made the list.

There are some interesting burger variations out there.  We were especially amused by Cheeseburger in a Can.  Silly Europeans!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Burgers in the News! SOBE does a Burger-Off

And the winner is....!!

For all those of you who think the classic bacon cheeseburger is the gold standard of burgers.... Rachel Ray's Burger bash (we suppose this is meant to be the Iron Chef/Bobby Flay throwdown of burgers) came to the same conclusion.

Time magazine reviewed the delicious event.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Turducken and a Burger walk into a bar....

Roving Burger Reviews from our Guest Reporter:
the Original db Burger at db bistro moderne

Have you been up late at night, wondering how Daniel Boulud would reimagine a hamburger? Or perhaps fretting that Wall Street Burger Shoppe is the only venue where you can get a burger for above $100?

Lucky you!

FOBS (Friend of the Burger Series) Roving Burger Reporter Patrick "Truffle Fries" Gardella was on call this week to provide a thorough analysis of a worthy entrant in the "Extreme Gourmet" category.

Patrick's review:

The Original db Burger
55 West 44th Street (btw 5th and Ave of the Americas)

what we love: the melding of so many flavors in a juicy burger

what we could live without: The cost, the roasted red pepper and the foie gras

burger scale: A/A-

price range: expense account

payment method: The expense account

Thanks to our VP of Sales, we had the excuse to enjoy a fine dinner with our of our favorite clients and visit Daniel Boulud's db Bisto Moderne. I took it upon myself, at the urging of a Burger Series member, to sample the "original db Burger".

Along with the other burger purists, I have a hard time really calling this a burger. At the risk of denigrating this wonderful burger, its more of a turducken (a chicken, stuffed in a duck, stuffed in a turkey). They start with a piece of foie gras, and wrap around it ground braised shortribs with shaved black truffles, and then wrap that in ground sirloin. It's all served on a parmesan bun, with frisée, and what looked like a dijon mustard. Oddly enough, they added what was about half of a roasted red pepper on the bottom. (Not being a fan of red peppers, which overwhelm the taste of just about anything they touch, I removed it.)

There was some debate among the rest of the people at the table on whether this was a burger that should be eaten with a knife and fork, or with both hands, as its around four inches thick. The meat makes up easily half of that, as you can see from the pictures. One gripe I had was that it was cut in half in the kitchen. I'm sure that was to showcase the ingredients, but I prefer my burgers unmolested. If I want it cut, I'll cut it.

Ignoring the debate going on around me, I just grabbed a half and took a bite. The flavors just jumped out on the first bite. The shortribs, as you might expect, were the most flavorful part, but you could still detect the sirloin, which was cooked to an only slightly over done medium rare. It was juicy enough, but not overwhelmingly so. (I'll need to hand wash my shirt to get the stains out, but it was only two drops.) I was concerned that the burger would fall apart like I'd had a few days before at another restaurant. It didn't really. The foie gras fell out on a later bit, but I was able to spear it with a fork and get it back in place. It didn't add much to the flavor, but it did provide an interesting diversion in textures. And the black truffles? Had I not known they were in there, I wouldn't have been able to tell. Unlike the fries at 5 Napkins, and their clear truffle flavor, here it was blended with the others. In all honesty, I could have gone with the Deluxe version which has a thick layer of shaved truffles on top, or the super Deluxe with two layers. But that would have pushed the bounds of sanity, even on an expense account, as the costs were $75 and $150 respectively.

The burger was so good that I didn't even touch the fries until it was gone. The others at the table were tasting the fries while I was eating the burger. The fries come with a very nice dijon mustard, ketchup and a horseradish mayo. The last was by far the most popular. It had just a hint of horseradish, but enough to give it some good flavor. When I finally got to the fries, they were going cold, but they were still crisp and tender on the inside, just like I like them.

To give you an idea about what others thought of the fries, they neglected their own meals to steal them from me. Which was fine, since there was no way I could finish them all. And the talk around the table was on the quality of the fries and the mayo, instead of their own very good coq a vin, salmon and other entrees. That says a lot.

I'd go back. It was a very good burger, ranking up there in my mind with some of the best I've had. My most recent point of comparison was a 5 Napkins burger a few weeks before, which I would take over the db Burger, but only slightly. I'm a sucker for caramelized onions and gruyere cheese (and blue, and cheddar, and…). For the purist, just set aside that this is a burger and call it a meat sandwich. Then enjoy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Round 27: Royale

This month we're headed to Royale, 157 Avenue C, to find out whether it can stand out in a neighborhood full of burgerlicious entries...
See you February 25th!

Royale received some buzz on The Today Show when BOTM was filmed eating there....has the hype gone to their heads? Let's find out!

We look forward to seeing you at Royale!

- The Burger Series

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stand! (in the place that you are...)

what we love: Fantastic, creative beverage options, fried pickles, and a nice selection of burgers

what we could live without: A bit too much bun, lackluster shoestring fries

burger scale: B

price range: Medium rare. The burger prices are middle of the road at $9-$15. The yummy drinks can really add to your final bill but are worth it.

payment method: paper or plastic

Stand II: the sequel

We thought we were going to Bill's...alas, limited seating and long waits at Bill's drove us crosstown to the wonderfully-accommodating Stand. (Oh Bill, don't you know it's inappropriate to keep the ladies waiting???)

Our mix of veteran and new Burger Series members found much to like at Stand. The cool West-Elmy interior manages to be both a little retro and a little cleanly modern. Nice and unfussy. Stand has a small bar area and once we partook of the beverage menu, we wondered why it isn't bigger! Lemon-basil frappe? Rosemaryade? Fresh blackberry soda? Alcoholic shakes? Umm....burgers? What burgers?

We started with a melange of fried goodies: pickles, onion rings, regular, sweet potato and shoestring fries. The pickles and sweet potato fries were the winners, but the shoestring fries were sadly meh.

Next we moved on the the main event. The mushroom burger was unique with its side of porcini sauce for dipping - a nice touch. Our bacon cheeseburger contingent was satisfied if not enthralled with the entries in the category. We did not venture into the salmon, turkey, chicken, or veggie burger categories, but found the variety noteworthy and intriguing.

Overall we thought the burgers themselves were tasty, nicely sized, and cooked to order...but the average buns didn't really add much to the experience, and in some cases detracted from it. We're coming to believe that bun-and-burger compatibility is nearly as important as meat quality, with lackluster buns bringing down an otherwise delicious overall burger entry. Of course, Atkins folks won't be bothered one bit!

Interestingly, Stand ranked higher across the group at our last visit in 2007, when it was the 4th stop on our now epic Burger odyssey....Perhaps our standards have gotten too high? It's not that Stand really lacks anything you'd want....they have some great unique elements and are a solid entry in the mid-price category. It's just that we wanted the comfy yet trendy Stand to "wow" us a little more than it did.

Our conclusion? If you're a burger in NYC, you have lots of get your buns in shape!


A solid burger joint with terrific beverages that you'd visit often if you lived in the 'hood...or when you can't get seating across town!

Monday, December 28, 2009

When it's cold out, sometimes we're in a mood for something besides burgers. Like a nice belly warming bowl of soup:

If we ever get tired of burgers

there's always everything else...


Or, more burgers:

Or, PIZZA!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mark: Sliders we can believe in (TM)

what we love: Mini-potato rolls and a waitress/hostess worthy of Lugar's

what we could live without: Limited seating and not quite enough juicy meat per slider

burger scale: B/B+

price range: McDonald's dollar menu, except the food is actually GOOD

payment method: We think they took plastic but since our bill per person was about $15 fully-loaded....does it matter?

Hark the return of sliders worth mooing about!

We'd read some good reviews, but....sliders? Usually we are skeptical.... we often find sliders to be dry, poorly cooked, with tasteless buns and unreasonably high prices. But Mark made us believers.

First off, though, may we tell you about our fantabulous hostess/waitress? Despite the tiny surroundings, she got our group seated quickly and promptly delivered our drinks (including the famed Guinness milkshake and a couple of black-and-white milkshakes) promptly. A mere 5 minutes later...what, ho, was she really back with complementary fries from the kitchen? Just because we were seated near the door on a chilly night? Those fries - with their balanced crispiness and 4-kinds-of-ketchup accompaniments - warmed us up fast! (And really, what's more heartwarming than free?)

The sparse menu, not much larger than a postage stamp, saved us from agonizing over menu options. There are two sliders: with or without bacon. Both have grilled onions and cheese, and are served on cute little potato buns, a nice choice that we haven't seen nearly enough in our burger quests. The meat was well cooked, each to a nice juicy medium, and with the choice of regular, BBQ, jalapeno, or chipotle ketchups, it was hard not to fall in love with these cute little burgers immediately. And, at $2 and $2.50 respectively....they sure made for a cheap date.

Our only criticism was that the sliders were a bit light on the bacon (which was sauteed with the onions in small pieces, rather than layered on as a strip). Some members felt there could have been a bit more meat on each slider to better balance the squishy-sweet potato bun, but this wouldn't stop us from a quick return to Mark.

The black and white milkshake was thick and delicious. The unique Guinness milkshake, we suspect an acquired taste. We were intrigued, but all tasters concluded that perhaps this option was really only meant for Guinness-lovers. Guinness + milkshake does not equal the two great tastes that taste great together, unfortunately. But we'll award a point for novelty.

Despite having only 2 sliders per person, no one had room for the pecan-pie dessert. That didn't phase our attentive, fun and informative waitress one bit - her service would make you think our collective bill was closer to $50/head than the $15/head (tax and tip included!) that we rang up.


Sliders we can believe in, a rockin' good waitress/hostess, and fun ketchupy options. But unless you're on the Guinness Varsity team... stick to the regular milkshakes.

The crappiest place to eat

And, we mean that literally.

All Carbon, Burger Series reviewer-at-large here. It's completely un-burger related, but we thought we'd share our recent dining experience in Asia. While we're glad we can claim to have visited this restaurant once, we won't be going back again. Ever.

Modern Toilet Restaurant

From Modern Toilet Restaurant

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Think about this the next time you order...

Menu Mind Games

In his new book, Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It), author William Poundstone dissects the marketing tricks built into menus—for example, how something as simple as typography can drive you toward or away from that $39 steak.

Puzzles, anchors, stars, and plowhorses; those are a few of the terms consultants now use when assembling a menu (which is as much an advertisement as anything else). “A star is a popular, high-profit item—in other words, an item for which customers are willing to pay a good deal more than it costs to make,” Poundstone explains. “A puzzle is high-profit but unpopular; a plowhorse is the opposite, popular yet unprofitable. Consultants try to turn puzzles into stars, nudge customers away from plowhorses, and convince everyone that the prices on the menu are more reasonable than they look.” Poundstone uses Balthazar’s menu to illustrate these ideas.
1. The Upper Right-Hand Corner
That’s the prime spot where diners’ eyes automatically go first. Balthazar uses it to highlight a tasteful, expensive pile of seafood. Generally, pictures of food are powerful motivators but also menu taboos—mostly because they’re used extensively in lowbrow chains like Chili’s and Applebee’s. This illustration “is as far as a restaurant of this caliber can go, and it’s used to draw attention to two of the most expensive orders,” Poundstone says.
2. The Anchor
The main role of that $115 platter—the only three-digit thing on the menu—is to make everything else near it look like a relative bargain, Poundstone says.
3. Right Next Door
At a mere $70, the smaller seafood platter next to Le Balthazar seems like a deal, though there’s no sense of how much food you’re getting. It’s an indefinite comparison that also feels like an indulgence—a win-win for the restaurant.
4. In The Vicinity
The restaurant’s high-profit dishes tend to cluster near the anchor. Here, it’s more seafood at prices that seem comparatively modest.
5. Columns Are Killers
According to Brandon O’Dell, one of the consultants Poundstone quotes in Priceless, it’s a big mistake to list prices in a straight column. “Customers will go down and choose from the cheapest items,” he says. At least the Balthazar menu doesn’t use leader dots to connect the dish to the price; that draws the diner’s gaze right to the numbers. Consultant Gregg Rapp tells clients to “omit dollar signs, decimal points, and cents … It’s not that customers can’t check prices, but most will follow whatever subtle cues are provided.”
6. The Benefit Of Boxes
“A box draws attention and, usually, orders,” Poundstone says. “A really fancy box is better yet. The fromages at the bottom of the menu are probably high-profit puzzles.”
7. Menu Siberia
That’s where low-margin dishes that the regulars like end up. The examples here are the easy-to-miss (and relatively inexpensive) burgers.
8. Bracketing
A regular trick, it’s when the same dish comes in different sizes. Here, that’s done with steak tartare and ravioli—but because “you never know the portion size, you’re encouraged to trade up,” Poundstone says. “Usually the smaller size is perfectly adequate.”
Excerpted from Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It), to be published in January by Hill & Wang, an imprint of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. © 2010 by William Poundstone. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Round 25: Mark

Ho ho ho.....sliders!

Thanks for answering the recent survey! We heard you loud and clear on your preferences this month: try a Wednesday, keep it local, keep it cheap, and go long in beef futures. Got it!

(Other comments and tips received from the survey are posted at the end...)

We meet at the Mark this month, on St. Marks Place between 2nd and 3rd Ave. Mark is known for cheap and yummy sliders, a Guinness milkshake, and a cozy atmosphere to get us into the holiday spirit. And it could answer our long-standing question....can sliders ever cut it with a semi-serious burger aficionado?

Gothamist review

Thrillist review

Mark's doesn't take reservations but should be able to seat us if everyone is on time. Space is limited, and will be filled on a first-come basis. Please RSVP by Monday, December 14th if you will be attending.

And for those of you wondering about the survey comments (including stock tips), we present you with the following:

"Go long on beef futures"
-- Done and done!

"I cant believe that we're survey monkey'ing for dates. you make my gourmet cooking club look like schlumps."
-- We'll try to be more lowbrow in the future.

"i would like to see a comprehensive ratings system implemented, which calculates ratings using sophisticated mathematical models such as game theory, string theory and other statistical models which involve cutting edge quantum mathematics"
-- Ummmm, ok, why don't you put that together for us? Try BOTM, they might have that already crafted!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Round 24: Fairway Cafe & Steahouse

Huh? Burgers at a Supermarket? Wha....????? Are the new Burger Series hosts crazy?

Yup! We meet at the Fairway Cafe this month, just above the Fairway Supermarket on 74th and Broadway. Believe it or not, Fairway Cafe has been reviewed often and has some of the best moo-cow menu options in the city....and no annoying check-out lines!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

City Hall

what we love: Levar Burton was our waiter, beef was amazing

what we could live without: Sub standard buns, cooked onions too sweet...

burger scale: B/B-

price range: Good Food at Great Food Prices (tm)

payment method: Mercifully they took credit cards.

So we went to this place on the recommendation of the Other Burger Club. The atmosphere was what you would expect from a downtown brasserie. After a round of drinks at the bar, the stragglers of our party arrived, and we were seated by a doppelganger of the host of Reading Rainbow.

We started with a plate of fried seafood yummies and an excellent assortment of veggies. The rest of the menu looks fantastic, but we were there for the burgers. They came in 2 varieties, regular and bison with an assortment of toppings available. The only cheeses available were mild cheddars and blue; they offered sauteed onions as a "near requirement" and standard applewood smoked bacon.

The onions proved to be a disaster. Not only were they cooked with sherry, making them far too sweet, they also savagely destroyed what little structural integrity was left of the delicately carved and buttered onion buns. Utensils were quickly required to salvage these baseball steaks. This coupled with the weak cheese showing seriously compromised what could have been a far better showing.

The meat, however, was first rate. Their beef blend was spectacular and made the rest of the burger faux pas almost forgivable. The bison was surprisingly flavorful and juicy, and is highly recommended.

It is also worth noting that their burgers play a more prominent role on their lunch menu, so perhaps the experience would have been different had we gone for lunch instead of dinner.

Summary: Excellent meat quality, poor buns, and a bit overpriced. Stay away from the cooked onions.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009 Burger Series Survey Results

And...the results are in (although only 6 of you voted, so I'm not sure how helpful the results are):

From our most to least favorite:
Primehouse NY (only two people voted, so this isn't really accurate)
The Stoned Crow
The Shake Shack
Five Napkin Burger
Donovan's Pub