“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”  Lewis Grizzard

Eatery:  Peels, 325 Bowery, New York, NY

I first visited Peels shortly after they opened, roughly one year ago.  Hearing its promise of a Southern-inspired menu and being the daughter of two South Carolinians, I wanted to adore it.  And, on that first visit, I truly did.  When I walked in the door, I was hit with the smell of melting butter – as though spread on a hot biscuit.  It was love at first sniff.  Then, I had the fried chicken – which was heavenly.  I’ve been back to Peels two or three times since that first visit, and my ardor has gradually dampened for a variety of reasons (hint: don’t expect warm service here).  I did, however, resolve to pay at least one more visit in order to sample the cheeseburger.

Cheeseburger at Peels (photo by MJ Byers)

Time Out New York described the Peels cheeseburger as “steakhouse style” which, I suppose, is a reasonably accurate description.  The burger was thick and juicy, and did have that ground-steak quality.  The menu describes the beef as “grass-fed” and that was actually what it tasted like – not a plus for me.  It probably didn’t help that the burger was cooked closer to tartare than to medium, but I must say I really didn’t enjoy the one-dimensional, very rustic flavor of the meat – and I’m someone who actually does like steak tartare.  I suppose, at the end of the day, I do prefer my burgers to be seasoned with something before they are cooked or served, and it didn’t taste as though this one was.  Alternatively, if a chef is opposed to seasoning burgers (after all, there are purists among us), they could at least include a blend of cuts to introduce some complexity of flavor.  Again, that didn’t appear to be the case here.   High marks, though, for the cheese (labeled as cheddar but its sharpness was evocative of gruyere) and the lovely, soft honey-colored bun – the latter of which held up admirably despite the moisture heaped upon it by the meat and tomato.  The burger also was topped with pickles and shredded lettuce but, interestingly, had no mayo or mustard –not on the burger, not on the bun, not on the side.  The burger – which included a side of fries – did come with a jar of the intriguingly named Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, which was really more like tomato sauce than ketchup.

Here, I must revisit the added tomato slice for two reasons: (1) it cost $2.00 to add to the burger – no, I’m not making that up – and (2) it was actually really great.  Not $2.00 worth of great, but it was a lovely, fire-engine red, thick, juicy, fresh slice of tomato, and was additive to the experience of eating the burger.  The other extra-charge topping choices were bacon and avocado – I don’t know if this would have brought the topping surcharge total to $6, or if cost $2.00 to add the lot.

A final and quick note on the fries:  they were right in the range of the way I enjoy French fries – not too thick, not too thin, golden crunchy.  Like homemade, and lovely.

Price:  Cheeseburger with tomato, $18.00 (includes $2.00 tomato fee).

Destination Burger:  No – if you visit, have the fried chicken.

Optional French Fry Rating:  Nice, but not a big fan of the aristocratic ketchup.

Fat and Calorie Worthy:  No, probably not.

Today’s Weigh In:  Gained 3 lbs – ugh.

TAGS: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hey! Do you use Twitter? I?¯d like to stick to you if that will be okay. I?¯m certainly enjoying your blog and appear forward to new posts.

  2. Subscribed for your blog, many thanks

Leave a Comment