Submitted By Simon Hardy Butler, January 4, 2017-12:01 am
Anthropomorphizing inanimate objects is often a sign of pretentiousness, yet there’s nothing affected about Washington Heights gastropub Angry Burger, despite its bizarre name—which may cause one to envision some kind of cartoonish all-beef patty shooting steam out of a pair of ground-chuck ears, a speech balloon above it depicting the special characters known throughout the comics universe as profanity. Occupying a corner of Broadway hardly known for its trendiness or bustle, the restaurant just about screams neighborhood joint, its red-hued façade outfitted with long windows showcasing the dimly lit, brick-walled interior. Tables are plain; the game is going strong on TV; the bar is off to the side but not far away from anyone who wishes to tipple. Who could ask for anything more?
Well, you certainly don’t have to ask for the free popcorn that’s plopped down before you after you take your seat. It’s a welcome munchie that smartly complements the interesting selection of craft beers on tap, and your water is at the ready in mason jars should you get thirsty for something more quenching. Should you hunger for something substantial, a starter of popcorn shrimp might sate your appetite: The breaded tidbits don’t have a strong crustacean flavor, but they’re perfectly edible and not, you’ll be happy to discover, greasy. The crispy calamari is similar … nothing unexpected, but the pile of golden rings and tentacles is better than your average bar food, and for that you’re grateful. Sadly, you’re not as pleased with the colorful chopped kale salad; though the greens are fresh and well dressed, they become tiresome after a few bites, and the serving size—a huge bowl reminiscent of the infinite dimensions of Yankee Stadium—is much too daunting to remain palatable for long.
Consolation rears its head in the form of the “angry” burger, a cheesy (the fromage is smoked gouda), bacony, thick sandwich highlighted by its sizable disc of well-cooked meat; the fries you receive aren’t as uniformly crisp as they should be, but as potato fingers go, they’re more than serviceable. This description may also apply to the “all-American” burger—maybe it’s less rah-rah-rah than its moniker might insinuate, yet the tight, juicy compacture contains flavorful meat, texture-providing lettuce and soft tomato between its hearty brioche bun … like its “angry” compatriot, it’s served on a plain metal tray reminiscent of the ones you may have used as a child to carry your dinner into your room, where the TV, not your parents, held court. No, this ain’t like biting into a madeleine, but it’ll suffice, nonetheless. And what your memories can’t replicate your tummy will compensate for, as the portions are large enough to fill you up good.
That’s enough to make anyone happy rather than angry, though diners might find further satisfaction in the homemade churros, which land at your table with two dipping sauces: dulce de leche and chocolate. While this isn’t the most refined or complex meal-ender, it’s plentiful—you get about four sticks of the ridged, sugary pastry —adequately fried and not oily … the sauces are sweet, simple, helpful, thick. Not a bad way to top off a meal, and it’s in line with the down-to-earth style of the restaurant, which is welcome for a local place. The last thing one needs in a neighborhood is a spot that has an inflated opinion of its own worth, and thankfully, Angry Burger doesn’t give off that impression. The prices, which dance in the teens for the mains, bolster its case. You want a place in the area you can go to and depend on? You got it. Sometimes, that’s just what a diner seeks. Sometimes, an amiable, low-key gastropub is just what the doctor ordered.
Anyone keen on public transportation for the way home may find it in the form of the 1 train, which is right nearby. Others might opt to walk back to their apartments. After such a repast, a little stroll couldn’t be a bad idea. Certainly, going back to Angry Burger another time for supper wouldn’t be one, either.
Truly, that’s the mark of a good neighborhood joint.