RE: BURGERS IN CONNECTICUT
Mon, 11/15/04 9:29 AM
Last year we did a story for Connecticut Magazine about "10 Bests" in the state. Here is the hamburger list. Larry's Landing, I believe has changed names and ownership... Harry's burgers are what you're looking for, I believe, but it's a summer-only place.
Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers
No other state can claim to have invented TWO kinds of hamburgers. We are home (arguably) to the original Platonic burger and (without doubt) to the steamed cheeseburger. However you like yours – thin and oily or thick and juicy, hamburger temptation is everywhere.
Clubhouse Deli: 217 Main St., Danbury. 203-739-0222
Behold the mighty "Giants Touchdown Burger"! It is a half pound of beef cooked good and crusty, topped with gobs of cheese and plenty of thick-sliced bacon, plus grilled onions and mushrooms and the condiments of your choice, all on a big bulky roll. Eat it surrounded by memorabilia not only of the Giants but of all proprietor Dane Kysor's favorite New York sports teams.
Harry's Drive-In: 104 Broadway, Colchester. 860-537-2410
Beautiful burgers are a sign of summer at Harry's, where the pick-up window offers a magnificent view of the grill on which the hamburgers are cooked. Placed on the hot, oily surface in round patties, they are flattened out with a spatula and yet they remain thick enough to be overwhelmingly juicy.
Jeremiah Donovan's, 138 Washington St., S. Norwalk 203-838-2430
Half the fun of eating at this 1889-vintage SoNo tavern is admiring the pictures of Battling Bat Kunz, the prizefighter who owned the saloon many years ago. The other half is J.D.'s superior hamburger: a generous slab of ground-that-day beef served with your choice of cheeses, bacon, lettuce and tomato.
Larry's Landing: 177 Roosevelt Dr., Seymour. 203-736-9056
In this old-fashioned hamburger stand at the edge of the Housatonic River, you sit at a tree-shaded outdoor table and plow into a juicy half-pound Angus beef patty that goes far beyond the edges of its bun. Topped with cheese and garnished with lettuce and tomato, it is one picnic-perfect hamburger eating experience … with sweet potato fries on the side.
Louis Lunch: 261 Crown St., New Haven. 203-562-5507
Does it really matter whether or not Louis Lunch invented the hamburger a hundred years ago? The undeniable fact is that Louis today makes a beaut: hand-pattied from quality beef and sandwiched in white toast (the hamburger no doubt predated the hamburger bun), available with a schmear of Cheese Whiz, onion, or a slice of tomato, but absolutely no ketchup.
Mario's: 36 Railroad Pl., Westport. 203-226-0308
Our choice for the state's best bar burger: super thick, ultra-crusty, and loaded with enough juice that you better lean forward when you hoist it from the plate, lest your shirt get spurted at first bite. It is a brilliantly seasoned hamburger, perfect for a place where you want to keep bolstering your thirst so you can drink more.
Shady Glen: 840 Middle Tpk. E., Manchester. 860-649-4245
The hamburger is OK, but what's amazing is the cheeseburger. Made using a technique perfected by the founding Reig family, it is draped with overlapping slices of cheese while on the grill. The cheese melts onto the hot metal surface and begins to toughen. But before it turns brittle, the burger-flipper uses a spatula to fold it up into an amazing floral shape atop the patty, with cheese that is molten soft in the middle but crunchy at its edges.
Sycamore Drive-In: 282 Greenwood Ave., Bethel. 203-748-2716
At this old-fashioned drive-in that still features carhop service, the burgers are "French cooked." The grill man slaps a thick circle of beef onto the grill then uses his spatula to flatten it until the edges are nearly paper thin. The middle stays moist while the circumference turns into a crusty web of beef. We'll have a Dagwood burger, please. That's a five-ounce patty with cheese piled into a bun with every garnish known to mankind.
Ted's: 1046 Broad St., Meriden. 203-237-6660
Steamers are unique to central Connecticut; and they are made at Ted's (since 1959) the classic way: a handful of meat is placed in a small tin inside a steam cabinet. As the meat browns, Vermont cheddar in an adjacent tin turns molten. The two are combined in a bun (preferably with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard), making one extremely unwieldy sandwich. Curiously, the steamed cheeseburger was created in the 1920s, when eating steamed food was a health fad.
Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop: 260 Elm St., New Haven. 203-865-1074
When "The Doodle" opened for business in 1950, a hamburger cost twenty cents and a cheeseburger twenty-five. Prices have gone up in the last half century, but there's still no better counter-culture bargain than a five-dollar Dandy Doodle Double-Double, which is a cheeseburger on a hard roll with bacon, onion, lettuce, and tomato.