Hello all and pardon my long absence from the blog-o-sphere. I haven’t written since I left for my big New York tour, and, as is tradition, I set out to eat a big New York burger. My good friend and gringo Spencer had recommended a place he knew near his home in Brooklyn. Spencer and I know each other from our travel days in Venezuela. Back then we were fishing for piranhas, but now we are urban adventurers searching for the perfect meaty burger.
Now if you’re like me and are a typical New York tourist, one does not venture out of Manhattan often, unless it’s to the airport. But wow! When I visited Spencer it was clear why people who live in Brooklyn often don’t leave. Getting off the subway, I emerged into a green, leafy, quiet community. Such a change from the crushing flow of people in Manhattan.
I quickly found my way to Spencer’s apartment and we set out for Ox Cart Tavern. Says regular Joshua Krupitsky “Ox Cart is a slow sip of whiskey; it’s the rare spot where a level of class is maintained, yet you can relax with no pretensions..” For those who appreciate a lack of pretension as much as I do, Ox Cart is your heaven. It’s a tiny little corner tavern, the kind that only the locals know about. Space comes at a premium in New York, and Cart Tavern uses theirs to make patrons feel cozy, not crushed. I cannot begin to express how great it is to sit in a restaurant in New York and not feel like a tourist.
Now onto the menu. Ox Cart has a burger menu, separate from its regular tavern fare. Almost like a showcase of the establishment’s finest works. First of all, thank you Ox Cart for using premium ingredients in your burgers, but not coming off like a douche about it. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a restaurant that tries to sell a common product as something more than it is. I don’t need a menu telling me I’ll scream with delight or that I’ll tantalize my taste buds. So thank you Ox Cart for being concise. In honor of our Venezuelan travelling days, Spencer selected “La Vaca” (The Cow) burger – fried chipotle, pico de gallo and queso Oaxaca. I chose the Cali-Patty – avocado, tomato, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and American cheese. Why do Americans call it “American cheese” and Canadians call it processed cheese? Marketing I guess.
And then the food arrived. Wow. A toasted sesame seed bun that housed a burger crafted of high quality beef. In La Vaca, the pico de gallo offset the richness of the Oaxaca cheese. And deep-fried chipotle pepper? Fantastic crunch added to the overall impression. Spencer was a little hesitant to order it due to the lack of vegetables, but he was pleasantly surprised. I had ordered the Cali-Patty, Spencer’s favourite and therefore recommendation for first-timers, and it was a great suggestion. The American cheese gave a great tangy quality to the burger, one of the few times where cheese flavour actually stands out in a burger. Too often I find it gets lost in the shuffle.
Quick note on the fries: amazing. They’re cooked in a different sort of oil I think, giving them almost a kettle chip kind of crunch on the outside. But be warned! These fries are best enjoyed hot out of the fryer; saving them for last only makes them wilt with sogginess.
All in all, I love the Ox Cart Tavern. Tourists, if you’re looking to get off the beaten track and try something local and delicious, get here. New Yorkers, if you have found your way to my blog and are looking for something great in Brooklyn that isn’t too hipster, this is the place. Bon Appétit everyone.