Whitmans: Poetry in Food

“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”  Walt Whitman


Whitmans, in New York City’s East Village (photo by MJ Byers)

I recently came across a list of the five best burgers in New York City.  This was by no means an end-all-to-be-all list – there have been many before it and there will be many more after it.  But, for once, I decided to pounce on this one and sample all five of these burgers.  Largely because there were only five (including one I’d already had at The Brindle Room) and because they were all located in Manhattan.  Yes, I’m kind of lazy.

First stop (or second, depending on how you view things) was Whitmans for their Juicy Lucy.  First a bit of background:  ”Juicy Lucy” is a somewhat generic name for a cheese-stuffed burger.  The fine city of Minneapolis generally receives credit for this gift to culinary greatness, with two local restaurants vying for the distinction of having created this masterpiece.  I don’t know how closely the Whitmans version adheres to the originals (as I never got to either restaurant in my year or so of residence in the Twin Cities, yielding my stay there a complete waste of time), but it represents nicely regardless.

The Juicy Lucy at NYC’s Whitmans – apologies for not showing the full extent of juiciness (photo by MJ Byers)

Whitmans is a cute, rather small restaurant in New York City’s East Village, with a window (accurately) billing the establishment as a purveyor of “slow food.”  The service is friendly and prices are reasonable in the context of NYC.  I stuck to the “5 best” list and order the Juicy Lucy; this version is made with a beef short rib blend and stuffed to the gills with pimento cheese.  The whole thing is topped with caramelized onions.  The result is a burger so oozy and so messy that it definitely would give 5 Napkin Burger a run for its money in a serviette destruction competition.   Husband went for what Whitmans calls the “Bluicy” – the same burger but with blue cheese in the middle.   His was somehow way less messy than mine.

Blue cheese fries at Whitmans

Crack Kale at Whitmans

As if on some quest to create a thematically consistent day, Husband ordered the blue cheese fries on the side.  That turned out to be a good choice – the tasty, golden fries were topped with a creamy blue cheese sauce that was very nicely balanced (i.e. didn’t overwhelm the senses with blue cheesiness).  I made a vague attempt at  having healthy side dish by ordering the crack kale, an oven-baked crispy kale treat.  It was yummy and had a great consistency, though it was also a bit oily.  Still, I’d recommend it as a good alternative to french fries for those who want to be able to say they had a side of green veggies with their burger.

Price: Burgers, $11.00 each; blue cheese fries, $5.00; Crack Kale, $4.00

Destination Sandwich:  Yes, and there were other dishes on the Whitmans menu that seemed worth a go. We’ll be back.

Fat/Calorie Worthy:  Totally.


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