July 24, 2008
I’ve never had a cheeseburger with a fried egg on it and I never go to the Meatpacking District. It was time to knock off two birds with one stone by having the Cheeseburger a cheval ($17) at uber-trendy French bistro Pastis. Once I overcame the ostentatious cougars milling about the bar, I was ready for action. Would this be a delicious experience or an overpriced one that would leave me in need of angioplasty?
Read on for the answer to that question plus a review of the Fried Calamari with Harissa mayo ($13) and the Grilled Chicken Paillard ( $18 ).
For an extra dollar, Gruyere cheese was draped over my sirloin hamburger. Unfortunately, the cheese didn’t do anything to enhance the overall bland flavor of the entire sandwich. The coarsely grilled burger had a nice charred flavor and a crisp exterior but it was masked by the sharpness of the Gruyere and the overwhelmingly viscous nature of the runny egg yolk.
This was the richest, greasiest burger I’ve ever had. It was a total slop fest. I needed every bit of the airy brioche to mop up the fry & burger grease and runny egg yolk all over my fingers. I realize Gruyere is a richer cheese than cheddar or American, but I don’t think anything could prevent the food coma that ensued after I disposed of this entire burger. I won’t be getting a burger with a fried egg again any time soon, I’ll stick with bacon and cheese when it comes to clogging my arteries. That doesn’t mean I won’t get a fried egg on my bacon wrapped hot dog at Crif Dogs.
I’ve had this burger once before, with just cheese, and after two tries, I’m still not impressed. For the $15 basic price tag, I’d go to Brooklyn Diner over Pastis any day of the week.
The fries were superb, however. Light, wafery, crisp and highly addictive. Just what I’d hoped for at a French bistro. Unfortunately, as you’ll read below, the other fried food didn’t fare as well.
The fried calamari ($13) tasted like Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion, equally salty but fortunately not as greasy. The harissa mayo had a barely detectable level of spice and did nothing to enhance the calamari. The bread we were given was better with the marinara sauce than the calamari.
Grilled Chicken Paillard
The Grilled Chicken Paillard ( $18 ) featured frisee, spinach, shallots and cherry tomato. The grilled chicken was overwhelmed by the flavor of fire from the grill, no other spices were detectable. It all boiled down to an unsubstantial hot salad. Brutal. The chicken honestly tasted better when dipped in ketchup. I’d steer clear of this dish.
In the end, after trying Pastis’ burger twice, I can honestly say it’s not good enough to warrant a return. If I end up in the neighborhood, however, and I’m looking for a bite late, it’s good to know Pastis will be serving until around 2AM Thursday and 3AM Friday and Saturday.
212-929-4844 Photo: www.travelmail.co.uk