On a recent 4 day excursion to visit my sisters in New York City, they asked me what I wanted to do and I had only one answer: eat. I had mistakenly taken the red-eye and was jet lagged and distracted by work, but through 3 days I had already knocked out most of my favorite fare: bougie Chinese, smoked fish, pizza, ramen... pretty much everything but a burger. Only brunch at a Jewish deli was on the agenda for the final day but by the time I woke up I was down to my last 7 hours in the city. It was looking like my last shot would would be something messy and disappointing from the food court at JFK.
The first snow of the season had fallen the night before and it was blisteringly cold as soon as we stepped outside. We trekked through slushy parks and plazas, past motorcycle accidents and vomit, but finally we arrived at The Mile End Deli, a cozy 19 seat eatery in Brooklyn. It’s Canada meets New York, specializing in Montreal-style smoked meats, over-the-top sandwiches and of course poutine.
They quote us the standard 1 hour brunch wait which gives me plenty of time to browse their Instagram and I immediately fall in love with the maple glazed Duck Grilled Cheese. Holy shit, click the link. I thought my mind was made up until a towering mountain of beef stopped me mid scroll. This was it — my final meal in NYC —and I had to go out with a burg. Once seated we find out that they’re out of duck, making my decision that much easier. I proudly order The Big Macher: two beef patties, latke, lettuce, pickles, onion, cheese, secret sauce, bun. Sound familiar? It’s a Big Mac™ with a fucking latke on it.
The Big Macher arrives ala carte, which is all good because it already comes topped with a slab of delicious, crispy fried potato. Also, we ordered poutine. It looks just like the pictures and it’s almost too tall to stand on it’s own (it falls during photographing). I wouldn’t call it pretty but it sure is beautiful.
When I finally get my hands around it I don’t know where to take the first bite so I panic and take a nibble from the lower quadrant, which ends up being just bun, lettuce, and onion. On the second bite I go right for the beef. It’s a good burger— thick and juicy—and I’d order it again even without all the gimmicks. But I’m here for the gimmicks. By my 4th bite I finally reach the latke perched on top. This is what I came for: it’s still hot and pairs well with the gooey, melted cheese and special sauce. My biggest critique is the unwieldiness, which at times hindered the concept but with each shrinking bite it becomes a little easier to eat and more of the Mac-spiration shines through. I'm lovin' it.
In hindsight it would’ve been much more manageable if I ordered a single but we both know I have to go big on my first visit, double or nothing. I've tried several Big Mac style burgers over the years— including several mediocre attempts during Portland Burger Week— and despite it's lack of finesse I can say the Big Macher towers over them all.