April Bloomfield's Tips On Building a Better Burger
Chef April Bloomfield's new restaurant carefully considers every part of the burger experience, from the patty to the wine pairings.
In New York City, April Bloomfield is unofficially known as the burger queen. It's a surprising title for her. At her beloved gastropub, The Spotted Pig, the menu features dishes inspired by her British upbringing (smoked haddock chowder) as well as her time at London's Italian restaurant The River Cafe (sheep-milk gnudi in brown butter). But the best seller is the excellent Roquefort burger. Likewise, at Bloomfield's second restaurant, The Breslin, the lamb burger with feta and cumin mayo is the crowd favorite. The reason the F&W Best New Chef 2007 makes such good burgers is that she takes them seriously. "A lot of chefs say they don't want to make burgers, but we cook burgers the way we cook steaks," she says. "They're not haphazardly thrown on the grill; we're very precise with them."
Now Bloomfield has opened Salvation Burger in midtown Manhattan. The rotating selection of specialties includes seasonal choices like a summer burger garnished with lettuce and tomato. (Won't there be any tomato-topped burgers in winter? "Absolutely not," Bloomfield says.) The chef scrupulously sources her meat and has installed an in-house butcher to grind it daily. The majority of her ingredients are made in-house, from the tender potato buns to the mustard, dill pickles and even the American-style cheese. For F&W, Bloomfield created a quartet of simple, delicious burgers, like the Italian, topped with Taleggio and strips of pickled peppers.
At Salvation Burger, there are booze-spiked milkshakes and beer, but the focus is wine, served by the glass or in bottles, carafes and even cans. "Oregon's Underwood wines sells very good Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in 375-milliliter cans, the equivalent of a half-bottle," says consulting sommelier Jessica Brown. For a bit of wine geekery, she highlights selections from regions with volcanic soil, like La Rivolta Falanghina from Italy's Campania. "The lava and ash add character to the wines; they also make them a great match for the burgers' charred flavors," she explains.
Salvation Burger's wine program is as singular as Bloomfield's burgers. Consulting sommelier Jessica Brown picked wines that are sustainable (a Bloomfield priority), and offers lots of choices on tap, as well as in carafes and by the glass.
2014 Gai'a Thalassitis Santorini ($30)
Thalassitis translates as "sea-originated," and this classic Greek-island white has an almost salty finish—great with juicy burgers
2014 Chateau de Pibarnon Rosé ($33)
Earthy and full-bodied, this Provençal rosé gets its beef-friendly, almost gamy flavor from its primary grape, Mourvèdre.
2011 Mastro-Berardino Aglianico ($25)
Spicy Aglianico grapes, grown in volcanic Campania soil, give this Italian red a smoky character.
2013 Turley Old Vines Zinfandel ($30)
Winemaker Tegan Passalacqua searches out gnarled old vines from Lodi to Mendocino for this bright California Zin.
Try one of April's burger recipes: