Burgers Ordered: Simon – The Sumo Burger; Matt – The Zapata Burger; Andrea – The Stuffed Gorgonzola Burger; Brad – The Bistro Burger.
The Experience: Any westsider worth their worth their salt has been to Big Nick’s Burger Joint & Pizza Joint before. As such, the Burgermeisters were no stranger to this magically greasy spoon. Their Guest Bugermeisters Simon (making his THIRD appearance on the blog) and Andrea (in her debut) haven’t been in the city as long and hadn’t sampled Big Nick’s wares. Famous for being a fun place to eat al fresca but somewhat suspect inside if you’re sober, this place is known for having a menu the size of a small book, especially considering how small the kitchen is.
The Waiter Culture at Big Nick’s is very relaxed. Servers where black t-shirts with a bit of flair. All cooking stations are exposed to the customer, and the white-clad cooks wander the restaurant almost as much as the servers. Next to nobody speaks perfect English, but it gives the place a certain charm.
The amount of framed photos and interesting quotes adorning the walls is nothing less than insane. There is no wall space left for new additions, and some of the older wall decorations are covered by newer ones. One might say that this place was designed and decorated by a rustic hoarder. Not only are the walls void of free space, but the amount of tables jammed into the restaurant also leave one feeling a small sense of claustrophobia. But no matter, it’s the food that we came for.
Taste: Of his Zapata Burger, an eight ounce patty topped with cheddar, guacamole and bacon, Matt said that the overall taste was somewhat generic, but that there were a lot of little things to make the meal memorable. He enjoyed the size of the patty, the perfection with which it was prepared and the toasted bun that held up throughout the meal. He said that the pickles were an excellent touch and that he was comfortably full when he was through. The guacamole really made the burger for him, however, adding a flavor that he commented on with each bite.
Brad’s Bistro Burger came on challah bread so delicious, so well toasted and so perfectly buttered that he said he didn’t know why all burgers couldn’t be served on it. Later in the meal, when the bread collapsed under the weight of the burger, mushrooms, swiss cheese, Brad realized that challah is a special occasion burger-bread. As pictured, the angus meat was cooked beautifully, the cheese was gooey and the bread was golden delicious. The mushrooms and onions were also fantastic. The burger was slightly on the greasier side, but that’s the only drawback Brad could find to his meal. The Bistro Burger is served with waffle fries, which filled his second stomach completely.
Andrea is something of a Talkative Tammy on Facebook, to the point that Brad has suggested that she stop writing in obscurity and start a stream-of-consciousness blog of her own. With that in mind he insisted that she speak on the taste of her burgers in her own words, without any editing from the Burgermeisters.
“My burger was perfectly cooked. I wish there had been more fries (despite my bathing them in an ocean of sea salt) because they were delicious and not too greasy. I was surprised at how long it took to get to the gorgonzola pocket in the center of this stuffed burger. I kept wondering when I was gonna get to the money shot and then I found a secret pocket to the side of the burger. It was glorious. Gorgonzola is tricky because too much is TOO MUCH; it overpowers everything. But this was just the right amount. It was also a good consistency, being gooey but not too messy. I didn’t even need a napkin. There was also a thin layer of gorgonzola on top of the burger which, while not so aesthetically pleasing, gave it an extra kick of deliciousness. All in all I give it an A+. The surprise gorgonzola pouch was worth the wait, and in the end I liked that it wasn’t immediate, because it enhanced the meat and how perfectly medium rare it was.”
Simon was also quite wordy in his assessment of the Sumo Burger, so the Burgermeisters decided to let him speak for himself as well. “The flavor of the burger was pretty great. At the risk of sounding cliche, it tasted like the burgers I used to make at home. As one might expect with a one-pound burger, some problems arose. The first, which was more comical than anything, was the bun being too small for the burger itself. Considering that the burger had a diameter of about 6-8 inches, that’s not surprising. The bun itself held out quite well and never was overrun by grease. The central part of the burger was a bit undercooked, but again that could be due simply to the size of the burger. Compared to the one-pound burger we had at The Heights, this was a bigger challenge. It wasn’t as tasty as the Heights’ burger, probably because this burger was scant on toppings and was one big patty instead of two stacked smaller patties. Unlike Andrea, for me a napkin was necessary. I’d definitely recommend the Sumo Burger to a daring soul, even though I couldn’t finish it. I’d probably give it an A-.”
We’re not sure why the Guest Burgermeisters insisted on grading their meals. The meal was capped off with complementary baklava, a nice touch that you don’t usually get from dives like these.
The Verdict: This isn’t a date spot, nor is it a place you should bring anyone you’d want to impress professionally. This is a place you go with your buddies to get a heavily flavored, greasy burger. For a real Burgermeister, it’s a slice of heaven. In fact, that is so much the case that the Burgermeisters felt they had to snap a picture with the owner, regardless of the fact that his staff treat him like a celebrity, giving him more security than Barack Obama.
Big Nick’s is located at 2175 Broadway at 77th Street.