Because I love food and I’ll pretty much try anything, I find it hard to make broad superlative statements about a specific dish. I’m usually suspicious if anything is too loudly or too often touted as THE BEST. But it’s hard not to acknowledge when something simple and homespun gets a gourmet touch, and no one waves that particular magic wand better than James Beard Award–winning chef Daniel Boulud. His undeniably decadent approach to the hamburger—a beef patty filled with red wine–braised shortribs, foie gras, and black truffles—has been an infamous staple at Boulud’s New York French bistro concept, DB Bistro Modern, since it opened in early 2000.
When I read the breathless DB Bistro feature in the New York Times, I was skeptical. (I also cringed at the thought of paying close to $50 for what is essentially backyard barbecue food.) But it was too late. The thought of that burger, and its unapologetic grandeur, rolled around in my brain for weeks. Gradually, I wore myself down. “Sometimes a chef can bring a new perspective to the table,” I thought. Grass-fed cows … tender ribs … rich foie gras … luxurious truffles …
Needless to say, I was drooling by the time I got the opportunity to face the formidable stack. I make an annual pilgrimage to Vancouver, home of a DB Bistro location that tops many B.C. “best of” lists. And I’m grateful that the experience didn’t disappoint. These are flavors that were born to be together, and the result—a towering sandwich served with perfect golden-brown pommes frites and tarragon aioli—is beautifully coma-inducing.
I left with my eyes glazed over, stomach thrumming with happiness. These days, with pundits screaming from every news channel and alarmists predicting the collapse of the economy at any moment, it’s hard to shell out $50 for the water bill, much less a lowly hamburger.
But then again, maybe it’s those big fat memories that keep us satisfied in the lean times.