The Best of the Great American Burger

In honor of Eater’s Burger Week, Eater has compiled a number of best-of lists. I wouldn’t dream of trying to recreate them so I will link to them below – but a few of my personal favorites first.

The Double Double combo at In-N-Out Burger
The Double Double combo at In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger – This family owned, California-based chain of 300 restaurants has a cult following and is at the top of my list. Simple menu (ordering is as easy as 1-2-3. . . ), consistently good in every location.  The fries, while not necessarily my favorite, are hand-cut on location. The group recently expanded out of California into Utah and Texas.  See the location finder to find a restaurant near you . . . or download the app (and see below for information on the not-so-secret secret menu).  http://www.in-n-out.com/locations

Shake Shack Burger + Fries
Shake Shack Burger + Fries

Shake Shack – the closest East Coast equivalent I have found to In-N-Out.  The Danny Meyer-founded chain recently went public to great fanfare.  In addition to a great burger, the restaurants also offer hot dogs, frozen custards (the “concretes” have custom mix-ins and some unique versions to each location) and beer and wine. The group has recently expanded beyond New York to Massachusetts, Chicago, Washington DC and Las Vegas – funds from the IPO with also fuel their growth to additional locations. https://www.shakeshack.com/home

Five Guys Burger + Fries
Five Guys Burger + Fries

Five Guys – Originally started in Washington DC this chain has expanded to over 1,000 locations (in other words there should be a restaurant near you).  Famous for “having it your way” – there are over 250,000 combinations for your burger. Also, hand cut fries and fresh ground beef in fact everything is fresh – nothing is frozen in the restaurants, ever. http://www.fiveguys.com/home2014/index_us.html

The three above are my favorite chain burger joints. Of course no list would be complete without a discussion of secret menus (and In-N-Out’s secret menu which is not so secret may have started the trend). http://www.eater.com/2015/4/13/8382523/secret-menus-in-n-out-fast-food-burger-animal-style?utm_campaign=issue-36469&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eater

In the past few years chefs at better restaurants have jumped on the “better” burger trend started by Daniel Boulud at db Moderne Bistro in 2001 with a truffle and foie gras stuffed burger.  A few of my better burger favorites (in addition, of course, to the original from Daniel Boulud):

The Nomad Bar Burger
The NoMad Bar Burger

NoMad – The NoMad (home of the famous foie gras stuffed roast chicken for two) is also home to a chef burger at the NoMad Bar – which starts with a custom blend of LaFrieda beef.

The Minetta Tavern Burger
The Minetta Tavern Burger

Minetta Tavern – The well-known Black Label burger at Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern was introduced in 2009.  One of Eater’s essential dry-aged burgers, it is made from aged ribsteak.

The Spotted Pig Burger
The Spotted Pig Burger

The Spotted Pig – Created by April Bloomfield at her 11-year old Greenwich Village gastropub the burger is one of the house specialties.

And, without further ado – all of those Eater best lists I promised at the start of the post:

Hottest Burgers in North America – http://www.eater.com/2015/4/13/8401025/best-new-burgers-north-america?utm_campaign=issue-36317&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eater

America’s Essential Hamburgers http://www.eater.com/2015/4/17/8425991/best-burgers-in-america-essential-hamburgers?utm_campaign=issue-36443&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eater

Classic Burgers from Coast to Coast –  http://www.eater.com/2015/4/17/8447195/best-burgers-classic-america-montreal

New York’s Most Iconic Burgers – http://ny.eater.com/maps/new-york-city-best-burgers-restaurants-burger-week?utm_campaign=issue-36451&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eater+NY

New York’s Essential Dry-Aged Burgers – http://ny.eater.com/maps/the-essential-dry-aged-burgers-of-new-york-city?utm_campaign=issue-36410&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eater+NY

Must See – Something Rotten on Broadway

Something Rotten Opening April 22
Something Rotten Opening April 22

I saw Something Rotten last night (which opens tomorrow at the St James Theater). Hands down the funniest musical I have seen since Book of Mormon. The strong cast includes Brian d’Arcy James (Tony nominee for Shrek the Musical and Sweet Smell of Success) and Christian Borle (Tony award winner for Peter and the Starcatcher). Original, fun, funny and highly entertaining (2.5 hour running time felt like much less). Music and choreography were engaging and memorable – I walked out humming the final number. Get tickets soon – once the reviews start to roll in this will be a hard ticket to get. My only criticism: what was it with the codpieces?

The Week Ahead April 20-27: The Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival started a couple of days ago (April 15th) and runs through April 26th. The films play at seven venues in downtown New York (with the exception of the Beacon Theatre).

There are several different tracks which will help you work through the many films being shown this week: Spotlight (Marquee Directors, Star Performers and Big Issues), Viewpoints (Distinct Visions from Innovative Voices), World Narrative and World Documentary Competitions, Short Films and Storyscapes – in addition to several Tribeca Talks series.

I have been to Tribeca Film Festival films a couple of years and usually select from the Spotlight schedule. I am seeing three this year:

Requiem for an American Dream with Noam Chomsky
Requiem for an American Dream with Noam Chomsky

Requiem for the American Dream – A documentary based on a series of interviews with Noam Chomsky which highlights the policies that have increased the concentration of wealth in a small part of the population in the United States. I saw the movie this afternoon.  A well-done, eye-opening and depressing account of the dying middle class.

Backtrack with Adrien Brody
Backtrack with Adrien Brody

Backtrack – this thriller stares Adrien Brody as psychotherapist Peter Bowers. When Peter discovers a secret shared by all of his patients it leads him back to his small hometown where he confronts his demons and unravels a mystery 20 years in the making.

Sleeping with Other People starring Jason Sudeikis
Sleeping with Other People starring Jason Sudeikis

Sleeping with Other People – A romantic comedy starting Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie as two romantic failures whose history of failed relationships lead them to swear that their relationship will remain platonic. Co-stars Amanda Peet and Adam Scott.

A few other films that look interesting:

  • Anesthesia – a “haunting meditation of city life” traces the chain of events leading up to a brutal mugging. Stars Sam Waterston Kristen Stewart and Glenn Close.
  • Dirty Weekend – a comedy from Neil LaBute starring Matthew Broderick and Alice Eve as colleagues with secrets who come to depend on each other for understanding as they go to find a spark of excitement in Albuquerque, after dark.
  • The Driftless Area – A bartender, Pierre, falls for an enigmatic women when he returns to his hometown after his parents’ death and is pulled into a cat and mouse game. Stars Zooey Deschanel, Frank Langella, Aubrey Plaza and Ciarán Hinds.
  • Grandma – stars Lily Tomlin as Elle Reid, a once-famous poet, who embarks on a roadtrip with her teenage granddaughter while mourning the loss of her longtime partner. Also stars Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer and Sam Elliott.
  • Tumbledown – Hannah (Rebecca Hall) is approached by a charming New Yorker (Jason Sudeikis) who wants to write a biography about her late folk-singer husband’s life. Also stars Blythe Danner, Griffin Dunne and Joe Manganiello.

See the film guide (and buy tickets) here: https://tribecafilm.com/filmguide and a PDF of the schedule here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/tribeca_cms_production/uploads/document/document/5519cfab01e92e9df7000003/TFF15-Guide-Schedule.pdf

The Week Ahead: Early reviews on Finding Neverland and Fun Home plus The King and I opening

Plays

Finding Neverland opens April 15th
Finding Neverland opens April 15th

 Finding Neverland (opens April 15 – “maybe see”) – stars Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer and with Diane Paulus directing.  Based on the Academy Award®-winning film of the same name, this show follows playwright M. Barrie in the time leading up to his writing the play Peter Pan. Barrie found his inspiration (and companionship – which led to his separation or divorce) from the widow Sylvia and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. I had the opportunity to see the show recently in previews.  If you are a musical theater fan you will probably like it.  Star power, entertaining staging and a swash-buckling number that closes the first act (although I didn’t find myself humming any of the tunes on my walk home that evening) it will most likely have a strong run. I am not a huge fan of musicals but have seen and liked the director’s recent Broadway shows (Pippin and Porgy and Bess) and decided to see it largely due to her involvement.  I would give it a maybe see – if you are a Broadway musical fan go – otherwise maybe give it a pass.

Fun Home opens April 19
Fun Home opens April 19

Fun Home (opens April 19 – “must see”) – the musical, based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir comes to Broadway after a sold-out, critically acclaimed run at the Public Theater. The star-studded cast and crew includes 4-time Tony Award® nominee Jeanine Tesori (music), Tony Award nominee Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), Sam Gold (direction), Tony winner Michael Cerveris (starring actor) and three-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn (starring actor). I also saw this show recently in previews.  What a great show!  The set and staging were amazing.  I loved the story and how the different timelines were interwoven throughout the storyline. The show was at various times funny and poignant and sad but also heartfelt and real.  I am not a big fan of musical theater but would highly recommend this show. I am getting used to the gradual full standing ovation that rewards most shows these days but this show received an immediate no-holds-barred standing o from the entire audience.  Go.  I am sure when the reviews come in seats will get harder to come by.

The King and I opens April 16th.
The King and I opens April 16th.

King and I (opens April 16) – Five-time Tony Award® nominee Kelli O’Hara (The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific) and Academy Award® nominee Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception) star in a new Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved The King and I. I have not yet had the opportunity to see (not a big musical theater fan. . . ) but will probably venture there at some point – I have seen Kelli O’Hara in a couple of shows (Light in the Piazza and South Pacific) and seeing her is usually worth the price of admission.

The Week Ahead April 6-12: What to see, watch and do this week

Movies

Dior and I starring Raf Simmons, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence
Dior and I starring Raf Simmons, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence

Dior and I (opens April 10) –  Dior and I offers a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simon’s highly anticipated first collection for the House of Dior. The movie stars Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence (and, of course, Raf Simons!).

Technology

Ready or not the Apple watch is  coming . . .
Ready or not the Apple watch is coming . . .

Apple watch pre-order date is Friday April 10. Will it be a hit or go the way of Google glasses?

Plays

Gershwin's "An American in Paris" opens April 12th at the Palace Theater
Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” opens April 12th at the Palace Theater

An American in Paris (opens April 12) – the musical stage adaption of the 1951 award-winning movie, based on the music by George and Ira Gershwin opens at the Palace Theater on April 12th.  The musical had its out-of-town tryout in Paris last year.

TV

Game of Thrones new season starts April 12th
Game of Thrones new season starts April 12th

Sunday April 12th HBO launches the new seasons of three of its hit series:  Game of Thrones, Veep and Silicon Valley.  Don’t say you weren’t warned – as I mentioned in a previous post the previous seasons released a couple of weeks ago.

Must See – Skylight

Skylight starring Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy
Skylight starring Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy

I recently saw a preview to Skylight which opens this week – Thursday April 2. The play, one of the best I have seen in a long time – has a crew of all-stars: playwright David Hare, actors Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy and director Stephen Daldry.  The play (which originally premiered at the National Theatre in London in 1995) is fresh from its critically lauded London run. The production crackles with energy as its two stars engage and struggle with their mutual attraction and opposing ideologies over the course of a wintry London night.

The Washington Post described it as “a pinnacle event—an artfully crafted piece of penetrating drama. Stephen Daldry’s flawless staging explores the fissures among the characters so potently that the evening hums along on what feel like the vibrant currents of life as it is actually lived. Exceptional is the adjective that comes to mind.”