Bunless Beef Party

Bunless Beef Party

The perfect plate of protein: a Danny Meyer burger, salad and asparagus

I must confess that I have been thinking about the burger I had at Danny Meyer's original Blue Smoke restaurant in the Flatiron District for years now: Shortly after the restaurant opened, my (then) husband and I went, prompted by an Esquire magazine article that dubbed the burger at the classy barbecue joint and jazz club one of the best in the country. I remember that evening fulfilled the expectations of that piece. My generously portioned, meaty and richly-flavored burger, topped with bacon and cheddar cheese, and sided with thick-cut fries were a heavenly version of about a zillion calories.

Today, I finally decided to revisit Blue Smoke (conveniently located 3 blocks from the offices of IN), with a different agenda: being all about the summer diet mindset, I knew my midday meal was going to be no starch, plenty of yummy protein and some morally superior side dish like salad or asparagus.  I entered the restaurant, which is all about Southern cool, with dark wood, dark red leather booths, and a very gracious staff. As I was dining solo, I opted for a seat at the bar, and was delighted to see that half or full orders of asparagus could accompany any dish, so I put in my choice: one medium-rare burger, on the plate, sans roll, with a full order of asparagus. The meal was another version of the heaven I had 10 years ago, if a slightly lighter option: No bun, bacon or cheese; the fries were replaced by a small portion of greens, delicious with a yummy vinaigrette; and a plate of well-charred, thin asparagus  rounded out my version of Atkins 101. Don't let the lean-and-mean sound of it all fool you, though: the meal, and especially the rich burger, lightly topped with a killer tangy and sweet barbecue sauce, felt like delightful decadence.

Next time, I am not going to be waiting another 10 years to head back to Blue Smoke.

» Blue Smoke, 116 E. 27th St., 212.447.7733