Burger Bros. Restaurant Review

April 25, 2008

I first heard about Burger Bros. in the Baltimore Sun “Live” section and I had to go. In the America of national fast food chains (McDonalds) and regional semi-chains (Five Guys), I enjoy going to a one-location restaurant more than the previously listed. As the name tells, it is run by two brothers, Michael and Timothy Murphy and is located on Allegheny Avenue in Towson.

As the name and the staff will surely tell you, the burger is what to get here. In the colorful shop, the menu lists chicken sandwiches, turkey burgers, Portobello mushroom burgers, hot dogs and salads, but as with a restaurant with the word ‘Burger’ in the title, you may know what to get.

The burgers at Burger Bros. unlike Five Guys and other chains, are cooked on a charcoal grill, along with the other entrees. The burgers are sandwiched between Brioche buns, which are a good departure from the standard, white-bread bun. Although, the burgers usually are cooked too much for my liking, they still retain a juicy interior and are not that tough. The fountain drinks, come in two sizes, which doesn’t make much since, as it comes with free refills, which is handy, as you can refill your drink before you leave.

Hamburger ($4.99) and Medium French Fries ($2.79)

Hamburger ($4.99)

As you can see, the burger sits nestled between a Brioche Bun, but the burger was cooked ‘well done’, however, next time I will ask for it to be cooked medium/medium well.

Medium French Fries ($2.79) taste exactly the same as Five Guys fries

I hope Burger Bros. thrives in Towson and expands to other areas of Maryland, as its family-run atmosphere, gives a non-corporate character that is lacking in many modern restaurants.

And did I mention the Brioche Buns!

Burger Bros.
14 Allegheny Ave
Towson, MD 21204
(410) 321-1880


Harry Cipriani in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel

April 12, 2008

The oft-derided Harry Cipriani, for many years has been derided as a poor tasting, overpriced, “scene” restaurant. While I’ll tell you that the food was good, the last two are entirely correct.

Harry Cipriani is located in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, a 1927 Art Deco beauty, that is not only intimate, but retains a grandness that usually only exists in larger, more impersonal hotels. It is located on across from Central Park and on Fifth Avenue, which creates a perfect atmosphere for shoppers and joggers. Its 50 rooms are individually decorated, and can be viewed before being booked on its website. The rooms, unlike the Plaza, its nearest hotel neighbor are reasonably priced (for the location) and give a great respite from the chain-dominated hotel industry.

The restaurant is open during breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I went there for breakfast, my party was one out of three that dined there. I’m sure there are usually more diners, but it was a rainy day and I came after the business crowd dined. As always mentioned in reviews, the restaurant is small and cramped with both small tables and chairs that allow for more people to be squeezed in, which equals more $$$. All of the waiters, were male (the restaurant was sued for sexual discrimination) and for the most part, European. The restaurant is famous mostly due to the celebrities who frequent it, and its ancestor, Harry’s Bar in Venice, invented the Bellini (peach nectar and sparkling wine) and Carpaccio. It was most recently rated “Poor” by Frank Bruni, but it still packs a crowd at lunch and dinner time.

Another view of Harry Cipriani

The Bellini (I am 16, so they made me a virgin one), but it still costed ($19.95)

Pancakes stuffed with Banana ($15.50)

Fresh Fruit Plate with Apple, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Orange ($19.50)

Fried Eggs, Bacon, Home Fries ($19.50 + 4 + 4)

Its a restaurant you bring someone to impress, but not to have a culinary experience. Usually its filled with older-looking blonde women and their even older-looking husbands, who have no problem with spending hundreds of dollars on a good (but not amazing) meal, because as I said earlier: you come here to see and be seen, not to eat.

Harry Cipriani (at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel)
781 Fifth Avenue at E. 59th Street (Central Park South)
New York
Open: Daily (7am-10:30am, noon-11:45pm)
Amex, MC, V
Matchbooks: Yes, but you must ask your waiter

The Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel in New York

April 5, 2008


I’ve been to Europe. I’ve been to Asia. The finest hotel that i’ve ever known (and know) is the Plaza. The name does not bring into mind, various town squares in Latin American countries, where the name is derived, but one hotel, perfectly positioned in the most opulent area of Manhattan, sandwiched between the world’s most famous shopping district and its most famous park.

This describes the Plaza Hotel, where I stayed during my vacation to New York (LINK TO ARTICLE ON PLAZA HERE)!!!


The Palm Court inside the Plaza Hotel has been famed for its afternoon tea which has been around since its inception. The Palm Court today serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, saturday and sunday brunch and of course afternoon tea. This restaurant is led by French chef Didier Virot, and offers a unique (yet not too unique) meal.

When I arrived to New York, I had previously made reservations, but had shown up wearing a collegiate sweatshirt and jeans. I walked up to the hostess, told her my situation and she said “oh its no problem” and seated me instantly. I had to wait a while for the food to be served after I ordered, but it was worth it. The potatoes were good, but not great; but the french toast was probably the best i’ve ever had.

The stained glass ceiling, which was destroyed by Conrad Hilton in the 40’s to make room for air conditioning equipment has been replaced, but with one difference. The stained glass ceiling has no natural sunlight. It uses a group of lights that mimic daylight and change reflecting the time and strength of outside light.

Mixed Fruit Drink ($12)

Brioche French Toast with Hawaiian Gold Pineapple and Passionfruit Caramel Sauce ($26)

Golden Roasted Potatoes ($14)

Two Eggs with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Golden Roasted Potatoes ($26)

The Palm Court
The Plaza Hotel
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South (E. 59th street)
New York City
(212) 759-3000 (ask for Palm Court)
Open: Breakfast (Daily): 6:30am-11:30am, Brunch (Sat & Sun): 11:30am-2:00pm, Lunch (Mon-Fri): 11:30am-2pm, Afternoon Tea (Daily): 2pm-5pm, Dinner (Daily): 6pm-10pm

Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien hotel in New York

April 5, 2008

Set behind ceiling high curtains in the lobby of the sophisticated but not snooty Le Parker Meridien Hotel on E. 57th street, lurks a burger-hawking greasy spoon that stands in huge comparison to Norma’s, the power breakfast capital who sells a $1000 caviar frittata. You can get a burger here for $6.50, which is $13.50 less than the $20 room-service burger. You can find the link on their website, but you’d be hard pressed to find so, as it is only a small lower case ‘burger’ on the restaurant page.

The neon sign placed behind the floor to ceiling curtain draws you in with a tempting neon sign…

Every website says that it is a secret, but the secret is out. When I was there, I heard no American voices, only British, Spanish, German and Japanese. Its probably because I came at about 2pm, that I missed the Midtown lunch rush, but it still surprised me that there were this many non-Americans, and that this place is called a secret.

The inside of the restaurant is wood-paneled and white-washed brick, in huge contrast to the marble and mirror lobby of the hotel which it calls home. The wood panels are covered in “old” band posters, while the brick is covered in graffiti. Yes, it says “Ashton Kutcher rules” on the wall. Hopefully, management takes care of that.

There are few seats in the restaurant, but many patrons, many of them Europeans who like to talk and chat after they eat, so you have to look out for a seat and then pounce for it. Otherwise, you wait.

Hamburger $6.50

The orders are taken quickly, and then passed along on a clothesline, and the grill, which actually uses flames imparts a chargrilled taste unlike burgers made without it.

Anatomy of a Hamburger

French Fries ($3)

In conclusion, this place is good and worth it if you are in this area of town, but even though it was awarded “Best Midtown Brunch” by Zagats in 2008, there are still better lunches around, with less people. And when you’re finished, get up and let someone else have a seat. Or you could call in your order, pick it up and sit down without having to wait, but whats the fun in that.

Burger Joint
Le Parker Meridien Hotel
118 W. 57th Street (southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and W. 57th street)
New York City
Open: Sunday-Thursday: 11:30am-11:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 11:30am-midnight

The Four Seasons in New York (restaurant, not hotel)

April 5, 2008

The Four Seasons restaurant is located on E. 52nd street and Park Avenue in the Seagram Building, an Internationalist masterpiece designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. It is known less for its food and more for being the place where the power lunch was created.

The interior, which was also designed by van der Rohe and Johnson, has remained virtually unchanged since it was created along with the building in 1959 and the interior of the restaurant has been designated as a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee in 1989. The design is very JFK-era, and this is the restaurant where Marilyn Monroe famously sung “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”.

The restaurant has two rooms: the Pool Room and the Grill Room. The Pool Room, is the room most often referenced to when talking about the Four Seasons, as it is the most photographed. As its name denotes, there is a large reflecting pool in the center of the restaurant, flanked by four potted trees. The Grill Room, is the famed haunt of the business community as they can meet to conduct business without any fancy trees or reflecting pools to distract the dealmaking.

When I went in March, it was before a theatre show, so we arrived at 6pm and as I expected, the clientele was gray-haired and quite aged. I noticed that most of them were remarking at how the restaurant has not changed since they were younger. I overheard one lady mention that she had dined here for every “season” (they change the menu four times a year, for each season) since it opened. Thats over 192 times.

Its very hard to tell whom are the waiters and whom are the diners, as the waiters all wear black suits, just like most of the diners. You can tell the difference, as the waiters wear red ties, that have little Four Seasons trees on them, or you can just remember who took your order. Do that right, and you won’t ask the wrong person twice like I did.

In ordering, the menu had many seasonal offerings, but had a few hold-overs from other seasons such as the Farmhouse Duck ($55) and the Short Ribs ($45). I asked the waiter which would be the best thing to order, and he told me that the Farmhouse Duck had been on the menu since he had been working there, so if it has been on there for that long, something must be right. So I got it. I wanted to have the Chilled Seafood as an appetizer, but in mentioning the specials, he mentioned Florida Stone Crab Claws, so I chose those instead. I guess Steven Schwarzman of Blackstone, must have came in and requested them.

The Florida Stone Crab claws were not as juicy as other crab claws that I have had, but they were meaty and the vegetable salad that is positioned behind them was good and made up for the crab claws short comings.

The timeless Long Island Farmhouse Duck ($55) is brought out whole to a cart near your table and is cut and sliced in half for two persons. The duck was the best duck that I have ever experienced, and that if you ever get anything at the Four Seasons, you should get the duck.

After being masterly cut and sliced tableside, the duck is presented to your table complete with juices and Cara Cara oranges, which were delicious and are just plain oranges. Nothing special, but it gives a good contrast to the duck.

Chocolate Pot de Creme ($15)

For dessert, which was necessary, I chose the Chocolate Pot de Creme ($15), a cold dish filled with chocolate custard, which was quite thick, so I ordered a dish of Vanilla Ice Crem ($15), to cut the density of the Chocolate Custard. It worked out perfect.

Vanilla Ice Cream ($15)

In closing, the Four Seasons is not the restaurant for a hip young clientele, but a restaurant that you would bring your parents (or grandparents) to relive another era, or a client to show him the glories of New York. But I still recommend it. Oh, and don’t miss the Picasso in the lobby. If you can’t find it, ask one of the staff, they’ll gladly point you towards it.

The Four Seasons
Seagram Building
99 E. 52nd Street (southwest corner of Park & E. 52nd)
New York City
Open: Mon-Fri, noon-2:15pm, 5pm-9:30pm; Sat, 5pm-11:30pm; Sun, closed
Matchbooks: Yes, but you must ask for them.

Werner’s Restaurant in Baltimore

February 17, 2008

Decades old diners often pride themselves as where your fathers ate, Werner’s can pride itself as where your grandfather ate. Werner’s Restaurant, located on E. Redwood street between Calvert and South streets has been a staple of the Financial District in Baltimore, where Redwood street was referred to as “The Wall Street of the South.” Operating since 1950, it was originally opened by the Kloetzi family who immigrated here from Switzerland. The Vickers Building where Werner’s is located was built in 1904, and sits across from the Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Building which itself was built in 1886. Werner’s is open for breakfast and lunch on Mondays through Friday from 7am to 2pm.

Rib Eye steak sandwich $9 (comes with 2 vegetables)

The Rib Eye steak sandwich with the bun facing upwards. (The bun was excellent)

Even though the average meal with entrée, sides and drink usually only comes out to about $10, it still remains a popular lunch spot among lawyers, financial-types, politicians, construction workers and tourists. You may have noticed it before in The Wire, where Mayor Carcetti and many other politicians and police officers meet. Even though the glitzy Inner Harbor and even glitzier Harbor East, attracts office workers for lunch, Werner’s still stays strong and I hope it operates for another fifty years.

Werner’s Menu (side 1)

Werner’s Menu (side 2)

Werner’s Restaurant
231 E. Redwood Street (located between Calvert and South streets)
Baltimore, MD 21202
Monday-Friday: 7am-2pm
Credit accepted: American Express, Mastercard, Discover Card, debit cards

Restaurants to be Reviewed in New York 2008

February 3, 2008

In about 50 days, I will travel to New York and eat/review the following restaurants:

The Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel (breakfast)
Sylvia’s in Harlem (lunch)
The Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel (lunch)
Peter Luger (dinner)!!!
Harry Cipriani (breakfast)
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn (lunch)
The Four Seasons (dinner)

As well as ALL of the restaurants located on the Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship

I can tell, this will be an excellent year