Have an Early Taste and Sip of the Williamsburg Umami Burger
Photos by Brad Japhe for the Village Voice
One of the country's hippest fast-casual burger joints makes it way to one of the hippest sections of the city, as Umami Burger (158 North 4th Street, Brooklyn) officially opens in Williamsburg along the bustling corner of Bedford and North 4th Street. In addition to a dozen inventive sandwiches built around house-ground beef, the new location offers a few vegetable-forward small plates and a bourbon-centric list of original cocktails. Here are some notable standouts.
On the burger side of the menu, Umami features the usual suspects, like the bacon-lardon-topped Manly, slathered in beer cheddar and fried onion strings, and the more understated Hatch, brightened by roasted green chiles and a somewhat muted garlic aioli.
But there are also a couple of newcomers on the list, unique to this location. The K-BBQ is a play on Korean barbecue, evoking the flavors of bulgogi with caramelized kimchi, cilantro, and a fermented gochujang glaze. It's a busy assortment of flavors vying for attention, but it manages to impart an ethnic vibe into an otherwise all-American meal. Far more conventional is the Cali, a jazzed-up rendition of the classic In-N-Out double cheeseburger. It has all the hallmarks of its inspiration: Thousand Island spread, American cheese, and a slightly sweet aftertaste courtesy of the caramelized onions.
The sensibly sized six-ounce burgers range in price from $9.50 to $13, absent of sides.
Speaking of sides, Umami takes these over the top with gusto, showering sweet-potato fries with maple-syrup-braised bacon, or under a deluge of goat cheese and Korean ketchup. The more faint of heart are better served by the pickled veggie plate — highlighted by tart chunks of cauliflower — or the truffled beet salad, offsetting the vegetables' familiar earthiness with creamy ricotta and bitter leaves of wild arugula.
Over at the wood-paneled bar, Tyler Brown developed a list of nine house cocktails. The Maple Bacon Old-Fashioned features bacon-washed Evan Williams bourbon and is punctuated with a candied stick of pork floating in the mix. There is a pleasant essence of smoke in the drink to tackle the sweetness of maple syrup. Their artful send-up of a whiskey sour introduces peach liqueur into the fray and is branded with a cayenne-peppered Umami logo dusted over the top layer of egg-white foam. Both drinks boast universal appeal.
The more seasoned drinker, however, should head straight to the Nomad, a slightly spicy bourbon drink made with Old Forester and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur. Rounded out with chocolate bitters and Benedectine, it's the most straightforward, hard-hitting cocktail on the menu. All are priced at $11, and are accompanied by nine rotating craft beers on draft.
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