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A New Contender for Buffalo’s Best Burger

Martin Cooks BurgerIf it’s wrong to fall head-over-heals in love with a burger, I don’t want to be right.

It happened last Saturday. I was at Horsefeathers Market checking out the rocking vegan offerings at Press Raw Food & Juice, with no intention of grabbing lunch, when something (fate?) lured me to the bar at neighboring vendor Martin Cooks.

I grabbed a seat at the bar, facing the open kitchen. Everything on the menu was intriguing, but the dish called simply “burger, cheese, bacon, egg” stood out. Surely, I thought, given the caliber of restaurant I am in, there must be something more to this burger than its humble description lets on.

So I placed my order, choosing blue over fontinella and agreeing to sopressata as a substitute for the 86’d bacon–but I was not without my doubts. What if the biting cheese overwhelms the dish? Without any fresh, crunchy, or acidic elements, would the whole thing be one-note texture-wise and excessively fatty?

In hindsight, it’s easy to laugh at my naivety.

Martin Cooks Lunch MenuAs soon as the burger arrived, I knew it was something special. The golden-toasted bun was presented askew, revealing glimpses of its beef-fat kissed underbelly and a barely set egg perched atop an inch-thick patty cloaked in a blanket of molten cheese and pork. With the top bun in place, I ran a knife down the middle to give my mouth a fighting chance at wrangling the bovine behemoth, releasing a cascade of viscous, sunshine-hued yolk.

Unable to resist any longer, I took my first, transcendent bite. It was immediately obvious that the meat Chef Martin Danolowicz uses is unmatched in terms of quality by any other burger I have tried in the area. It was insanely beefy, complex, robust, even slightly sweet. It was not overshadowed one bit by the relatively docile but still pungent blue cheese or generously spiced sopressata. In fact, all parts coexisted in palate-pleasing balance. Only later did I find out that Chef Danolowicz sources his beef from a small-production, free-range farm in Vermont.

Not even high-quality beef can stand up to poor cooking technique, however. Fortunately, this patty was griddled to a juicy medium-rare by none other than former Eights Bistro executive chef and current Martin Cooks team member Amelia Nussbaumer, who managed to develop the sort of crunchy, salty, uniformly caramelized crust of burger legend.

With the bar set so high, I’m afraid I have been forever ruined for burgers of any lesser quality. This is especially problematic because the Martin Cooks lunch menu changes regularly, and last I checked, the burger did not make the cut. I can only hope that it will make a semi-regular appearance.