Franklin Becker’s pair of gluten-free restaurants, the fast-casual Little Beet and its table-service sibling, the Little Beet Table, are usually showcased for their healthiest offerings. Each restaurant offers a broad range of produce-heavy dishes littered with lean protein, gluten-free grains, and healthy alternatives to things like Caesar salad dressing (at the Little Beet Table, pureed chickpeas mimic the texture and flavor of that condiment).
So we found it a touch ironic that one of the best new burgers we’ve had this year, one dripping meaty juice and topped with thick-cut bacon, came straight from the kitchen at the Little Beet Table (333 Park Avenue South, 212-466-3330).
Becker says the burger is anything but off-brand, given the fact that his restaurants are especially dedicated to giving eaters with Celiac disease a safe space to dine. “When’s the last time someone with Celiac sat down and had a burger and didn’t have to worry?” he asks. “I wanted people to be able to sit back and enjoy foods they missed without having to think about it.” It’s for that reason that he also has apple pie and pasta on the board.
Becker’s burger is a blend of skirt steak, chuck, and brisket from Creekstone Farms. The brisket, he explains, is what gives the patty its supremely juicy quality; skirt, he says, gives it the slightly gamey note. It supports those slabs of bacon, a mild cheddar, roasted tomato, and tangy special sauce between two halves of a gluten-free bun sturdy enough to hold up to those fairly messy innards. That bun had, most of all, good texture and chew, and so it didn’t even cross our minds to miss the brioche or sesame-studded rolls that are integral components of many of this burger’s competitors.
In fact, we’re nowhere close to gluten-free, and we’ll be back for that sandwich, which, says Becker, is the point. “A lot of healthy restaurants serve food that’s bland, flat, and uninteresting, and after you eat it, you don’t want to eat healthy anymore,” he says. “These are dishes I would put on any restaurant’s menu, not just a gluten-free restaurant. I want people to leave saying that was a great meal.”