The poor little ostrich burger doesn’t stand much of a chance of succeeding in New York City, a metropolis whose blocks are rife with beef burgers. But in this week’s Battle of the Dishes, one ostrich burger will triumph. That’s because it’s a battle of the ostrich burgers! (And aren’t you secretly wondering what an ostrich burger tastes like?)
Ostrich Burger #1: Bare Burger
Our quest for the bird burger began at the Manhattan outpost of Bare Burger (535 La Guardia Place, 212-477-8125), an Astoria restaurant that promotes a menu of DIY burgers. The restaurant is proudly organic and has a sort of laid-back beach-shack vibe going on. We ordered the classic bare burger with ostrich meat (pictured above, and at $8.45 plus $2.65 extra for the meat, for a total of $11.10), plus an order of fries ($4.95). The fries were of medium thickness but extra crispy, and came with five dipping sauces (chipotle mayo, curry ketchup, chipotle ketchup, special sauce, and malt vinegar) — a real bonus for when you want a new flavor in every bite.
The ostrich burger arrived enshrined in a large brioche bun. The bun itself was a bit bready, and the bun-to-meat ratio was higher than we would have liked. The ostrich burger itself, though, was pretty tasty (cooked to medium-well, though we asked for medium), and actually rather similar to beef, but lighter, and with a hint of gaminess. The patty was the ideal size and had a touch of char. Someone had a heavy hand — almost too heavy — with the spiced ketchup atop the meat, but the sautéed onions were a nice touch. But it did make discerning a noticeable ostrich flavor trickier.
Ostrich Burger #2: Energy Kitchen
Energy Kitchen is a mini chain that features healthy sandwiches and burgers including veggie, bison, and ostrich, all served on whole-wheat buns. We stopped by the West Village location (82 Christopher Street, 212-414-8880) and ordered the ostrich, billed on the menu as having only 278 calories. At $6.99, it’s a good deal cheaper than the Bare Burger option. Unwrapping the burger, we immediately noticed lettuce spilling out all over the place. It also came with a slice of tomato, but ketchup (and mustard) are served on the side. The patty was significantly flatter than the Bare Burger option, and the bun squishier. The patty, like its competition, was overcooked, but also significantly drier. It unfortunately lacked much flavor, although the bun had a nice nutty taste and was the right size for the burger.
So which ostrich burger wins (and which should have its head in the sand)?
Bare Burger Wins!
Although the excess of condiments made it difficult to appreciate the full ostrich flavor, the meat was juicier and more flavorful than the patty at Energy Kitchen. The lettuce and tomato from Energy Kitchen were also bland and watery, while the Bare Burger exuded oomph and flavor all around. In fact, we even preferred the ostrich burger to the beef one we tried while there.
So, kids, you heard it here first. Ostrich burgers are the next hot burger trend.