Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whole Foods Enters the (NYC) Burger Wars and...

My Whole Foods (because as New Yorkers, we think we own things like stores and doctors and parking spaces) is a place I enjoy shopping at, which I frequently do.  This huge WF outpost anchors the new-ish Avalon Chrystie Place, a not-half-bad looking apartment building on the south side of Houston Street, which runs from Chrystie St. to the Bowery, and is clean, inviting, well-stocked with stuff I need and use (good enough for Top Chef, good enough for me), and is a mere 15 minute walk from our apartment and a even shorter subway hop home.  Also, whenever I catch them overcharging me for some obscure produce that I've thrown in my basket, they're very nice and fix the problem right away.

So imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when I popped in for a quick bagful of groceries and I spied this...

Yes, my Whole Foods was entering the burger wars. And when I took a look at the menu, I was even more excited...

I don't know how well you can see that, but it's basically $4 for a burger - of local, grass-fed beef (which I'm assuming is also ground in-house), the same $4 if you'd like a cheeseburger and only $1 more if you want to add some porcine goodness to the above.  Pretty fair prices and the fries only add another $2 to the deal.

But that day two weeks ago I wasn't hungry for lunch, and I'd forgotten about the burger until today, when I knew I was gonna go WF shopping and figured I'd make it a lunchtime thing in order to try one of their grass-fed offerings.

It's a little clumsy if you want to eat your burger at the store, because the seating area is upstairs and you have to place the order, go to the cashier to pay and come back with the receipt before you can bring your food up to the cafe.  So order and pay I did. And when I came, I saw my burger on the griddle - underneath this lid that looks like it was missing its wok...

Burger-cooker also seemed to enjoy smashing the shit out of my burger with his oar-sized spatula.  At one point he even squirted some liquid onto the griddle in the direction of my by-now forlorn looking patty; I'm assuming it was water - I'm wondering why it was needed - was the griddle too hot?

Okay, after the 4th smash-down of my now really fucking thin grass fed burger, in my least sarcastic tone, I asked burger-man what he was doing? He assured me that he wanted to make sure my burger wasn't raw, to which I replied - "it wasn't raw 10 minutes ago - take it off the freakin' griddle!" He put the lid back on.

Allright, I've now gotten my burger and an order of fries and bring them upstairs, set them up all nice so I can take an artsy picture for you (btw, I'm starving by now, because the stuff smells really good)...

Then I took my first bite.  Expecting what, exactly? I mean, it was grass-fed beef, cooked to the doneness that I'd cook a pot roast. Done, baby, worries about raw beef here.  Sad, as a matter of fact, because somewhere in the background there was a taste reminiscent of decent meat.  And it wasn't even ground right - too fine a grind, making it tough. Bun - way too big for this bad boy.  Oh, the pickles and griddled onions were fine.

And the French fries? Greasy, undercooked, soggy, sad French fries. Like the beef for the burger, I think at one time it was good product, but maybe they shouldn't be cooking such sacred things as burgers and fries in a grocery store.

Many people complain about the prices at WF.  I don't, because for many things it's not any more expensive than most other grocers here in the city. Some of their stuff is practically a bargain, even. But save your $6 for the burger and fries - it's much better spent on an organic apple, an organic orange, and a bunch of organic arugula.  Think how virtuous you'll feel!  Either that, or head down the block; I'm sure there's a burger place close by.


  1. NO SCORE! Good report Mitch!


  2. Many smashed burgers get a squirt of water; it produces....steam! which only furthers to cook your burger even more.

  3. somethings wrong with you, those burgers are great

  4. Hey anonymous,

    When you get a fucking clue, let me know!

  5. I would feel however that the chickpea fritter and the grated beetroot would make this burger quite heavy in terms Food Trucks In Los Angeles