Bun + cinder at P.S. Burgers
I was excited when I spotted the new burger joint on Carmine Street, P.S. Burgers. A little rudimentary Googling proved the place an offshoot of a Mineola indie burger spot that Yelpers seem to adore. Said one: “Fresh ingredients, well prepared, friendly staff, and GREAT burgers. If you’re looking for a quick burger on the run, this is not the place for you — a P.S. Burger should be savored.”
The potential customers march on by.
The place offers a build-it-yourself menu featuring several different patties, most daringly a bison burger. But highlighted are several international-themed burger formulations, including the Texas (bacon, cheddar, and barbecue sauce — ironically, because barbecue sauce is often eschewed by Texans), the Mexico (fried jalapeno, avocado, pepper jack, and chipotle), the Paris (fried egg, sautéed spinach, Gruyere, smoked bacon, and honey mustard), and the Hawaii (pineapple, fried onion, bacon, red bell peppers, American cheese, and cayenne-ranch sauce).
You are offered a choice of three buns, which are on display by the register unappetizingly wrapped in plastic.
Detecting a South American vibe — the menu reminded me of Brazilian burger places in Newark’s Ironbound — I ordered the Buenos Aires, which stipulated provolone, red onions, lettuce, tomato, and chimichurri, the wonderful Argentine relish of parsley, garlic, and olive oil.
I was visiting late in the lunch hour. The place was busy, with a knot of milling customers, and most of the modest amount of seating inside the woody and heavily shellacked dining room was filled. Nevertheless, there seemed to be plenty of employees behind the counter. As I waited (about 15 minutes) for my burger, the place alarmingly began to fill with smoke. It turned out to be my burger that was burning.
I finally stepped up to the counter when my name was called and accepted my Buenos Aires burger. I sat down at one of the newly vacated tables and took a bite. The burger was really awful — the patty charred to a blackness that could not be ignored, the bun dry, the chimichurri almost nonexistent. It was the worst burger I’ve had so far this year. The fries were awful, too, mealy and coated with some sort of starch. (Even Yelpers are not fond of the fries.)
So was it a fluke? Wanting to be fair to the burger joint, I returned the next day and found myself the only customer. Would the burger be better? This time, I ordered from the build-a-burger menu and got a plain beef patty with bacon and Monterrey Jack cheese.
This time, they burned the bun. It was a shade better than the first time, though the bun was cottony and the patty overcooked and tasting like precisely nothing.
Still, this place is likely to be a huge success whatever I have to say about it. It’s actually perfect if you like your burger “well done.”
35 Carmine Street
My second burger was marginally better.