If we can cook it, you can cook it!

Review of Bill’s Bar and Burger and a recipe for Chicken Parmigiano Burgers

 This weekend for the first time in what seems like months, we were finally able to walk anywhere without feeling that we were in a race against the cold.   So we jumped on the opportunity to visit the High Line. This is an only-in-New York invention: A ‘park’ on an abandoned elevated railroad spur on the far west side of Manhattan.  It’s currently runs from 20th St to just below 14th St and it packs people in as it wanders through the new Art Gallery district and through the modernist Architecture that’s building up around it.  A nice walk it was and by the time we got to the end of it, we were hungry.

Fortunately, Bill’s Bar and Burger is right there at 22 Ninth Avenue.  It opened in October and it’s been the toast of this burger-loving town ever since.  It’s been thoroughly covered by everyone who covers food in New York .  My favorite quote on the hand-out postcard at the bar:  “It was magnificent.  It restored my faith in hamburgers and the country that produced them.”- Vanity Fair (!) Wow.

The price is certainly right.  The entry level burger is $5.95.

And tops out at $7.50 for a Tuscan Turkey Burger (Puleeze…).  We took Cybil, the gorgeous bartender’s advice and ordered The Fat Cat, Caramelized Onions and American cheese on an English Muffin and the oddly named “Sunset and Vine” (pictured at right)  which comes with American Cheese and “Special Sauce” (Pictured above).  Both were really good, very basic. Certainly not your $25.00 DB Bistro Moderne’s offering  with the foie gras and short rib in the middle.  Nor the spectacular $16.00 Lamb Burger we’d just had at The Breslin on W. 29th St. These are familiar burgers on familiar buns.  Certainly worth every penny you pay for them.

        The look of the place is “Dive Bar”—as if the owners came into some ancient old Irish place and set up shop.  A closer look and it’s obvious that this is a carefully crafted and cleaned up version of one. And here’s the kicker:  The place is owned by BR Guest, one of those ubiquitous NY restaurant groups that own places as dissimilar as The Blue Water Grill on Union Square to…well, Bill’s Bar and Burger.  And guess where they’re going next?  45 Rockefeller Center where a two floor version is set to open this Spring.  We can’t think that they’ll be able to pull off the Ninth Avenue look, but their burger could give Burger Heaven a run for its money. 

Now about the recipe for Chicken Parmigiano Burgers with Mozzarella and Marinara Sauce.  This is a riff on one  I saw in Bon Appetit this month and wanted to share with you.   I did change it mostly because I wanted to use more basil—at 3.99 a bunch that only seemed reasonable.  Also, I used lettuce that I had on hand.  Bon Appetit recommended radicchio—which is never a big hit in our house because of its bitterness.   I have had requests for some lower fat options in some of my posts and this one certainly fits that bill. They come in at 550 calories a piece and throw in a couple of grams of fiber.  They’re easy to make and a great way to satisfy a desire for a healthier option to a hamburger.  They don’t take much time at all and they do taste as good as they look.  Of course you can substitute regular hamburger buns for the French Bread but the bread does make this dish look fancy, don’t you think?   You can use store-bought marinara sauce and no one will know the difference.  Here’s the recipe:

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