Korzo Haus' Lush and Unusual Burger

Korzo Haus' Lush and Unusual Burger

You can't exactly call what's wrapped around the burger a bun, nor are those french fries.

Korzo Haus is perhaps the city's only Slovakian bar, located at the southeast corner of Tompkins Square. Up front in the narrow storefront is a kitchen that might belong to a small pizzeria, then a bar with only two beer pulls, and then a very nice dining room that never lets you forget you're eating on the ground floor of a typical East Village tenement.

How do you know it's Slovakian? Well, there's picture of the current president of the Slovak Republic, which was conjoined until 1993 with the Czech Republic under the name Czechoslovakia. What's more, the president is sitting where you're sitting right now in Korzo Haus, making the place something like a Slovakian legation to the East Village.

For a Slovak restaurant, Korzo Haus has lots of Hungarian flourishes to the brief menu. For one thing, there's a fried bread called langos. It's a round loaf made to order that you can get stuffed with cheese and crushed garlic. More spectacularly, it forms the bun on the series of burgers that are the centerpiece of Korzo Haus's menu.

"Bun" may not be the right word. The largish, coarsely ground beef patty is first blackened on each side on a griddle, leaving it bright red and juicy in the middle. Next it is implanted in a ball of yeast-risen dough, which is then deep-fried. The burger remains about the same level of doneness as the bread cooks to a coffee-bean brown on the outside. Put inside the ball with the patty is your choice of toppings. In the "Original," the inclusions run to organic bacon, house-made pickles, house-made mustard, and Emmentaler cheese, which melts and cascades out as you bite into this amazing burger.

Other versions feature a veggie patty, sauerkraut, and a wad of pork neck, or slaw, onion, tomato, and American cheese. The virtue of the configuration is that the ingredients can't escape the bun, and the dough keeps them firmly in place as you take bite after bite, each more heavenly than the last.

Instead of french fries, you can get fried halusky (spaetzel), which is chewy and rubbery in a good way. Other dishes on the menu include a dark and gritty goulash (spelled "gulas"), a bratwurst with kraut, and a number of side dishes.

Korzo Haus 178 East 7th Street 212-780-0181

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