Highlights of a Weekend in Manhatten - Part 1

Yes, this blog is about Westfield. But it is also about our surrounding area and it is about some of the adventures/experiences that my wife and I have that might be worth sharing (even if they are not in Westfield). With some good friends staying in Manhattan for vacation we went to NYC twice this weekend to meet them, for drinks, for dinner and to enjoy some music and other performing arts. So here is a brief summary of the highlights for Friday. Part two will cover Saturday.

On Friday for Dinner we wanted to make it Burger Night. New York Magazine had a list of the best burger places and we selected "Stand". Stand calls itself "The rare well-done burger restaurant". And not only the burgers are worth it.Their web site is rather basic, simply communicating the slogan and the address and not much more; not actually worth visiting.

Burgers at Stand come a la carte, i.e. without sides. Their is a selection of different meats (beef, turkey, chicken, salmon) or vegetarian options. And no, they don't have a Kobe Burger with shaved truffle and seared fois gras (not even an "American Kobe"), these are for snobs and parvenus that don't get the point that something skillfully prepared with quality ingredients can be very satisfying even if it is not high priced (and if the cow doesn't get a personal massage.) Nor do they have the triple-decker-pounder where you get a photo and a special price when you actually manage to stuff it down. Besides the obvious waste of food, I find competitive eating pretty disgusting. These would be for the gourmand.

The absence of these gimmicks at "Stand" is a good thing. In addition, the burgers come with defined profiles of toppings. I'm sure they will accommodate certain special change requests, but there is not an endless selection of 250 different toppings that would allow you to design your burger in 10^80 different ways. (Which happens to be more variety than there are atoms in the universe).

I believe the idea of "Design-your-Dish-at-the-Restaurant" is a really bad idea. I want to be able to rely on the chef to combine different ingredient/flavors into a satisfying dining experience instead of doing it myself. Yes, you could put guacamole, truffles and blue cheese on a burger, put why would you? It just is not a good match. Not every permutation of ingredients and flavors works well. Actually most combinations don't work well. That's why I like to trust the professionals in the kitchen.

At Stand the combination that I have (Mushroom Burger) works well. In addition to the onion marmalade (which I feel is a major advance beyond uncooked white onions on a burger) there are some sauteed mushrooms on the burger and porcini sauce on the side. The sauce has a refined pretty intense mushroom flavor which is what I like. If you don't want it that mushroomy, don't use all the sauce. The bun is a bit more like a ciabatta roll, very good texture and the right amount of moisture. The beef is medium-well as requested. It is not the very best beef patty I ever had but it is certainly up there, done in a way that results in a firm but not too chewy texture while at the same time retaining the flavor and the juiciness. My wife has the Blue Cheese Burger which is equally satisfying.

A good burger needs onion rings or fries. Both are certainly above average. The onion rings are very tasty, not too fatty and with a crunchy texture. The fries are pretty decent although not spectacular.

But the burgers are not the only highlight. A great selection of local micro brews and international beer, some interesting well-made and not too gimmicky cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, e.g. a rosmaryade invite to experiment. Deserts are innovative and pleasurable. We share the Lime Yogurt Parfait which feature an intense lime taste and a smooth-silky texture which in combination create an assertive but refreshing mouth feel.

Service is attentive, efficient and friendly. Stand is equally a place for a quick but refined burger or a place to hang out with friends for an opulent dinner and some drinks afterwards.

After leaving Stand we hang out in some great life-music places like Arlene's Grocery in New York and eventually get home taking the last train out of Penn Station to Westfield.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

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