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Mar 4, 2009 12:42 PM

Whats the Deal with Black Label Burgers?

Its all over FoodBlogs - and now has a mention in the NYTimes - but i can't for the life of me figure out what makes it so special!
So - its made by Pat La Freida - got that.
But what makes a Black Label Burger so special?
and in the true American spirit..... where can i get one?
i need to try it!
i know there are a few outlets in NYC - but how about here in SF?
thanks for the help!

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  1. Looks like dry-aged high-quality meat from a variety of cuts + mega PR genius + NYC herd mentality. Zuni cafe, Cafe Rouge, and a number of other local restaurants sell their own high-end burgers that they make from meat they age and grind daily in-house. If you want to try Zuni's, be aware that it's on the lunch and late night menus, but not the dinner menu.

    1. That's right its dry aged beef from a variety of cuts. You can see exactly what it is in this video from ABC news when they interviewed Josh Ozersky http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerInd... . You have to go about about 5-6 minutes in till the timer reads -2:45.
      I don't think its made it to SF yet.


      1. Only in NYC. It is about LaFrieda selecting this and that, etc.
        I buy from LaFrieda and he is legit, not a scammer, rep, hype operation but I am not sure how much of the Black Label bit is subtance
        vs hype. I have not had one, I don't think it would blow me away but I will give it a fair shake if I do try the blend.
        I was thinking of dining at Zuni and indeed to try the burger but that is insanely expensive.
        15 bux no fries? That is the type of number that will just piss me off, though I have had other items that do that and I will admit if they are great or not.
        So, even if I go into eating it with anger, I will not give a prejudiced verdict.
        Anyway,I don't think the Black Label is life changing. I will let you know if I am wrong.
        Aging and grinding in house or out does not matter. It is not like shipping cheese from Europe or something. Greatness in meat is valid over the distance of a few miles and maybe a few hours of travel.

        Hey, SteveG, how man ounces is the Zuni burger?
        If it is skimpy on top of that, then that is really too much.
        Of course, can still be terrific but would be a one time event.

        7 Replies
        1. re: dietndesire

          I recently tried the burger, which comes with fries, at Nopa for about the same price as Zuni's w/out fries. To me, the Nopa one didn't have much flavor and I would not order that there again. (A friend's rotisserie chicken looked delicious!)
          I love the Zuni burger and think it's worth the price (and, I'm pretty price conscious!). I also love their caesar salad and ALWAYS order it. (For most people, it's big enough to split.)

          1. re: walker

            Y, again, I am not saying the burger won't be good or great.
            I just compare 15 bux, no fries to other cities that are as or more expensive and this is about as high as it gets which is pretty ridiculous. Not saying the can't, it is capitalism, so please nobody start all that "market bearing" nonsense. They can charge $500 if they so choose to. And that is fine and up to them. I will just say it is out of whack. For 15, still think at least a bit so.
            I still might try it though I won't be trying the Caesar salad.

            1. re: dietndesire

              Given the pedigree of the burger (see SteveG's description below) and the type of restaurant Zuni is, $15 really isn't that ridiculous for a higher end burger or, atleast compared to other higher end burgers in the bay area. Cafe Rouge's, Berkeley: $12, Nopa: $13, Luka's Taproom, Oakland: $11 to name a few that are talked about on this board (although I will say that they do come with fries)... Even Barney's burgers, which don't have all the bells and whistles these other places do and wouldn't be considered "higher end" burgers, falls into the $8-9 range and don't come with fries either. http://www.barneyshamburgers.com/

          2. re: dietndesire

            Don't know exactly; I don't remember it as small, though. Everything about it is high-end: the house-ground and aged meat, the house-made pickles, the fresh-made aioli, the fact that it is mesquite grilled, etc. (I can't name another place in San Francisco that grills burgers over coals instead of gas, let alone mesquite).

            Is it a deal at $15 bucks? Not really, but high quality house-made everything doesn't come cheap, and if that's what you want, there aren't many other places to get it.

            1. re: SteveG

              I understand and what you say is perfectly reasonable.
              But my poing is that, from what you list, basically this is at least 2 bux more(decent chunk in percentage)AND no fries. That makes it a large bump.
              Again, I might try it and I will rate the burger on an absolute scale regardless of price.
              I have done it before, I gave my choice pizza joint the nod, even though I was completely enraged by a few things when I ate there for the first time.
              But I still stated the pizza was spot on. People cannot separate food from other components, service, the room, the booze they drink, etc. Of course, now, I have boycotted it because the price is just too high, even higher than when it opened.
              I will not say it is BAD pizza just because of that. It was great pizza but I am not paying that much to anyone for pizza, yes, it is about the principle. Most people cannot separate. They go somewhere expensive and they say it sucks because they are used to paying much lower tabs for the rubbish that they normally eat. They rather pay X for poor food than 1.5X(or whatever multiple it is) for something that is very good or great.
              Also, I HOPE the burger is great, I always hope things are it is just that most aren't. I do not want it that way, why would I? Wouldn't everyone prefer that every restaurant were fantastic?
              One other note, house-made means nothing to me. You can make garbage in-house and you can get great parts from outside sources. Each case unto itself, though I am not saying you implied otherwise.

              1. re: dietndesire

                Just so you're not totally taken aback, Zuni is an informal but high quality restaurant, and the "burger" is a fork and knife deal with focaccia instead of a bun. It's near-impossible to pick up and eat out of hand without having it fall apart. It's not something I search out when I want a classic greasy American burger with fries to tame a hangover; it's more something that I might eat if I want a satisfying hunk of mesquite grilled meat after a few oysters and a Bloody Mary or three.

                1. re: SteveG

                  Appreciate the heads up. I will still probably try to pick it up. Will not become vexed if I fail since I was duly warned.
                  Y, I do not care to be enlightened by what people "love" when they are drunk or hungover, I would say the senses are quite off, to be kind. In fact, I believe this is a large reason why so many people who love places that suck, do so. I prefer your particular info on the higher end Zuni even if 3 Bloody Mary's deep.
                  Tell the truth, I am becoming more inclined to try this burger out for comparison and curiosity's sake.

          3. Here is a url that speaks on the types of beef cuts that go into the "black label burger."

            Also, here is another expensive burger place in NYC called dbbm