The California-based Umami Burger chain opened its first New York City branch three weeks ago, backed by a chorus of heavy panting by the usual sources. All that excitement for a burger joint, and an imported one at that?
You can see why. They serve a very good burger, named for that indescribable taste sensation common to such foods as aged beef, cheeses, and shellfish.
The whole menu consists of a handful of salads, starters and side dishes, and eight—count them, eight—kinds of burgers. That last castegory includes items like turkey, tuna, and duck burgers, in addition to traditional ones.
There are eight beers on tap and sixteen in bottles, nine wines (most available by the glass or bottle), and fifteen house cocktails ($12 each). That’s not the typical beverage list for a burger joint. If you’re teetotaling, there are the obvious sodas and odd ones too, like Mexican Sprite (whatever that is). I visited in the early afternoon, so I drank just lemonade.
I ordered the Truffle Burger with Fries ($12.50), and — what more is there to say? It was a great, thick burger, cooked to a perfect medium rare, and with an ideal patty to bun ratio. I didn’t detect much truffle flavor, nor did I care. But if you prefer the smash technique, perfected (should I say ruined?) at places like Bill’s Bar and Burger, then this place isn’t for you.
The fries are thin and crisped, excellent specimens of the style.
You’d call the bi-level space “bare bones” if it were anything but a burger joint. For a burger joint, it’s upscale. There are bars and free-standing tables on both levels, plus a row of banquettes on the ground floor.
A host seats you. Service is very good. There was no wait to get in, but I visited at an odd hour, although even at 1:30pm, well past the lunch rush, the place was about half full.
I don’t want to over-sell Umami Burger. It’s a burger spot, and a good one.
Umami Burger (432 Sixth Avenue at W. 10th Street, Greenwich Village)
Food: Burgers are the focus
Service: Very good, even excellent, for a burger joint
Ambiance: A comfortable bi-level restaurant with two bars