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Are condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo, aioli, etc.) necessary for burgers?

ipsedixit Mar 26, 2011 12:01 PM

Y'know, burgers ... the good kind. Freshly ground, good quality cuts of beef. Not fast-food burgers in other words.

No ... is what I say.

I don't like condiments when I have a really juicy burger that's just freshly ground, hand formed, loosely packed, and cooked to just this side of medium rare.

I don't need fancy housemade ketchups (even though I love me some ketchup on just about everything else), nor do I need salsas, mustards, mayo, etc.

They just get in the way.

  1. e
    escondido123 Aug 8, 2011 09:54 AM

    For me, condiments and additions are part of what makes a burger a burger. No matter how good the meat and how good the bun, I'm not interested in eating one without additions like cheese, mayo and ketchup at least.

    1. m
      mmalmad Aug 8, 2011 09:39 AM

      Here in New Haven, we have Louis Lunch, who claim to have invented the burger sandwich.
      You can have your choice of: onion (which is grilled into the burger cooked on their 100 yr old vertical gas grill) a slice of tomato or cheese whiz. No condiments are provided or allowed.
      The sign used to say "this isn't Burger King you can have it my was or you can't have the damn thing at all"
      It Is a tasty burger.

      1. Pixie Muse Aug 7, 2011 03:26 PM

        I like a big blob of ketchup right in the middle on mine, with small pieces of homemade pickled eggplants on top. That's probably because I don't eat bread, and staring at a piece of meat with nothing on it, makes me sad.

        1. s
          svicious Aug 5, 2011 08:16 PM

          Plain doesn't work for me, but sometimes you can get away with just one condiment and often times you are better off than the kitchen sink. Just a little butter and salt is good enough if the meat is top quality, but then again I've never met a burger that wasn't improved by onions...and well if you have onions cheese is nice and then bacon has a nice contrast to the cheese and then tomato or avocado goes well with bacon and well...next thing you are back to the kitchen sink. This is one of those things where this is no right answer for each bite, let alone burger to burger.

          1. LorenM Mar 29, 2011 05:44 PM

            I can not think of a burger in the world that is not improved by the addition of some fresh guacamole and bacon. Oh and cheese too!

            1. Michelly Mar 29, 2011 04:19 PM

              We feel that the better the burger, the less you want or need anything on it. An absolutely juicy, flavorful burger needs only salt and pepper, and would make you forget that there isn't even any tomato, lettuce or onion.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Michelly
                GraydonCarter Mar 30, 2011 06:30 AM

                I'll bet that there are some chowhounds here who have never had their burgers this way.

                When my local diner serves me a hamburger patty bought (in a stack) from Sysco or Restaurant Depot, it comes with all the condiments, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

                When given a real ground steak burger, hand formed, loosely packed, and cooked to just this side of medium rare, perhaps your first impulse is to look for the condiments, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

                I'd challenge my fellow chowhounds to go find a good burger, and try it plain.

                1. re: GraydonCarter
                  greygarious Aug 7, 2011 07:26 PM

                  Sunday lunch when I was in elementary school was usually a ground chuck (mom called it chop meat) patty shaped by mom and cooked in the cast iron skillet, between two pieces of Pepperidge Farm or Arnold white bread. I thought it was heaven. Back then, I ate margarine on white bread as a snack, and wouldn't eat anything with vinegar in it. Then I grew: up, and a palate. There's no such thing as too many condiments on a burger!

              2. m
                MonMauler Mar 29, 2011 09:31 AM

                I love burgers.

                To me the word 'burger' in common American English connotes the use of a bun and is comprised of mostly ground beef. I leave room in my definition for burgers comprised of ground beef and some combination of buffalo, bison and even pork, lamb or ostrich, which are my favorite varieties to make. I also make room in my definition for fillers, such as egg and breadcrumbs, the addition of which I do not think automatically qualifies it as a 'meatloaf sandwich.' That said, my favorite type of burger is 100% fresh ground prime chuck, seasoned only with salt and pepper prior to cooking.

                To finally get to the OP's question, though -- beyond the bun and the meat my burger is always adorned with a condiment of some type. Usually, there's cheese of some sort on there, too.

                And no condiment is wrong. For me, my choice of condiment depends on the type of burger, the toppings, the time, the season, my mood, the occasion, what sides I may or may not be having, and probably a dozen other variables. Sometimes I like just some ketchup. Other times there will be some mustard. Other times it's mayo. Sometimes it's a combination of various condiments. Often, I'll make an aioli.

                All this talk about burgers definitely has me craving one. I think I'll make it my lunch: fresh ground chuck, brie, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula and white truffle aioli between two lightly toasted buns...

                1. t
                  TuteTibiImperes Mar 28, 2011 09:30 PM

                  While I think it depends a bit on the type of burger, yes, some sort of condiments are a must. I can enjoy many variations on the burger theme, such as sliders with just a bit of steamed/sautéed onion and cheese, gourmet behemoths with fried eggs super thick bacon and various chutneys, or even chili and jalapeño covered dive bar specials, the real deal classic backyard burger for me is:

                  Thick, but not too thick all beef patty grilled medium or so over real coals, on a white or potato-bread bun, with a slice of iceburg or romaine lettuce, thick slice of raw white onion, fresh ripe tomatoes, a couple slices of dill pickle, a slice of American or cheddar cheese, a little mayo on one half of the bun (no miracle whip ever, blech) and a quick stripe or two of yellow mustard. You get the fatty smokiness from the burger patty, some extra salty richness from the mayo, sweetness and some acidity from the tomato, some bite and crunch from the raw onion, piquancy and sourness from the pickle and mustard, and a bit of creaminess from the cheese. The lettuce doesn't do a whole lot, but it looks pretty sticking out over the edge (similar to my feeling about turkey drumsticks - I don't care for them, but seeing them sticking up in the air as the bird is carved makes the rest of it taste better).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TuteTibiImperes
                    GraydonCarter Mar 28, 2011 11:30 PM

                    > Thick, but not too thick

                    At a little place called Stookey's Famous Bar B Que in West Nanticoke, PA, they make a sandwich that locals call a "hamburg" and the meat is almost as thick as it is wide, like a meatball. The locals love it.

                  2. thew Mar 28, 2011 03:28 PM

                    necessary? no - but so little in the world is.

                    can and does it enhance the burger - yes

                    1. j
                      Jelly71 Mar 28, 2011 03:02 PM

                      seen as how i eat mayo like it's a required food group, my answer is yes, always mayo on a burger. i can live w/o ketchup and lettuce, tomato, onion, etc... but i gotta have my mayo.

                      1. FoodFuser Mar 28, 2011 02:15 PM

                        Have read the replies
                        and lament the loss
                        of goodness be found
                        in the Mayo.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: FoodFuser
                          bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 02:42 PM

                          Hold the Mayo, Hold the Lettuce.....etc.

                          Really don't want to turn that extra lean hamburger into a heart attack on a bun <VBG>

                          1. re: bagelman01
                            FoodFuser Mar 28, 2011 05:16 PM

                            Understood but stiill grounded there is gift in the gloss of spatula ready to sweep Mayo.

                        2. KaimukiMan Mar 28, 2011 11:31 AM

                          when I was young, a fairly long time ago, my brother and I always had to persuade waitresses when we ordered our burgers that we wanted them plain. Meat and Bun. End of story. It was an issue everyplace from McD's to upscale restaurants. At the Del Coronado in San Diego we created quite a fuss because the waitress refused to bring our burgers that way, claiming that it would get her in trouble with our parents if they found out. As many of you know, I'm rather strong minded... but my younger brother puts even me to shame. He very politely, but not so quietly, informed her that if he didn't get the burger the way he ordered it on the third try it was going to cost her her job. He must have seen the line on TV or something. Of course at this point we had the eyes of about 1/3 of the restaurant on us. Two pre-teen boys making a different kind of fuss from what they might have expected. The maitre d' finally came over to find out what the fuss was all about. The waitress, bless her poor befuddled well-meaning heart, was sent off to take care of other tables and the maitre d' personally delivered our plain burgers. They were excellent.

                          If not for that episode I'm sure both my brother and I would have started experimenting with condiments two or three years earlier than we actually did, but once you have won such a victory at ages 6&8, it is very hard to give up ground. So, short answer: no, condiments are not necessary for a really good burger, but I'm not gonna argue with someone who wants to augment their burger. Just hope the add-ons are of equal quality to the outstanding beef.

                          1. g
                            gadfly Mar 28, 2011 10:08 AM

                            I like a burger to hit all five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter. I also find it boring to eat the same burger over and over, so how I fill each of the five tastes changes from burger to burger. Usually though, there's salt, pepper or a pepperlike spice, something sharp along the lines of horseradish or mustard, something pickled, and a sweet sauce. Sometimes cheese, sometimes bacon or other cured meat, and sometimes something eggy. If the patty isn't beefy enough to stand up to all that, then I don't consider it to be a good quality patty.

                            1. chef chicklet Mar 28, 2011 10:00 AM

                              For me, sometimes if the burger is piping hot, that biteful of hamburger with salty/peppery grease, is just enough.

                              1. i
                                igorm Mar 28, 2011 09:18 AM

                                Chaque en son gout!
                                We used to call a hamburger with mayonaise a New York or sissy burger and with mustard a Texas burger.
                                Personally, I like a burger with mayonaise or aioli!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: igorm
                                  thew Mar 28, 2011 03:33 PM

                                  new york = sissy? i bet you don;y say that on my side of the hudson... ;)

                                2. FoodFuser Mar 28, 2011 08:43 AM

                                  There is bun. There is meat.. There is Mayo.

                                  Absolvement, but not Understandment

                                  Of them that eschew the Mayo to Bun

                                  1. m
                                    Maggie Larkin Mar 28, 2011 07:17 AM

                                    90% of the time I will put ketchup on. Rarely will I put a little mayo on it & I have heard of mustard on burgers and that goes on sometimes. I've watched my sister actually put all three on her & thats a little overkill for me.

                                    Only time I reallly never use condiments (again mainly ketchup) is if the burger has avocado on it, or if it is a stuffed burger - like with blue cheese

                                    1. s
                                      Sal Vanilla Mar 27, 2011 11:59 PM

                                      I'm fickle. If it is super charred and fatty then just salt and pepper - no sauces or chunkies or cheese would suit me fine.

                                      But turkey burgers or burgers made with low fat sirloin? I want homemade pickles, cheddar cheese, mustard, mayo and maybe sriracha (especially turkey).

                                      I do not want any burgers stuffed with cheese or onions mixed in the burger. And freaking ketchup or sweet pickle relish. I might even balk at the bacon. OK no that is a flat lie. But I would pull it off and stuff it directly in my mouth - especially if I can drag some melted cheddar along with it.

                                      I like raw onion, warm tomato and aoili with lamburgers!

                                      1. goodhealthgourmet Mar 27, 2011 01:57 PM

                                        95% of the time it gets seasoned with nothing but S&P, and i sometimes have it with sliced tomato and onion. but i eat my burgers with a knife & fork - no bun - because GF buns suck.

                                        on the rare occasion that i want it gussied up, the only things i really go for are blue cheese, bacon & caramelized balsamic onions...preferably all at once :)

                                        when i was a kid i'd occasionally put ketchup on a burger, but no more. and never, EVER mustard.

                                        but these rules only apply to beef, bison and venison. i get far more creative with poultry & lamb.

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                          ipsedixit Mar 27, 2011 03:22 PM

                                          but these rules only apply to beef, bison and venison. i get far more creative with poultry & lamb.

                                          ____________________________

                                          Eh, but those aren't burgers. :-)

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            jfood Mar 27, 2011 03:40 PM

                                            and if they are small they are not sliders either. :-))

                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                              goodhealthgourmet Mar 27, 2011 07:45 PM

                                              sure they are. they're just turkey burgers, or lamb burgers, or chicken burgers. and before you argue with me on that:
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3686...

                                              ipse, i do believe you've been busted ;)

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                ipsedixit Mar 27, 2011 08:12 PM

                                                How so?

                                                When one says, "burger" it means a hamburger or a burger made from beef.

                                                When one says, "fish burger" or "chicken burger" then you're talking about something that is different from "burger".

                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  goodhealthgourmet Mar 27, 2011 08:19 PM

                                                  ah, i took your comment to mean that one can't use the term "burger" *at all* unless it's made with beef.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    mamachef Mar 28, 2011 09:28 AM

                                                    But Ipse: I don't remember the particular thread, but when I posited a blend of different cuts of beef for burgers, you told me that that was meatloaf, not burgers.

                                                    1. re: mamachef
                                                      alanbarnes Mar 28, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                      Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

                                                      1. re: mamachef
                                                        ipsedixit Mar 28, 2011 09:39 AM

                                                        I don't remember the particular thread, but when I posited a blend of different cuts of beef for burgers, you told me that that was meatloaf, not burgers.

                                                        _______________________

                                                        I don't believe I said different cuts of beef in and of itself makes for meatloaf as opposed to burgers.

                                                        I think what I said was adding fillers (e.g. breadcrumbs, etc.) to ground meat -- either just one cut or multiple cuts -- makes for meatloaf and not burgers.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                          mamachef Mar 28, 2011 10:13 AM

                                                          There was no filler whatsoever in my post; meat only, beef only. I agree wholeheartedly that adding fillers or stretching brings it to the level of meatloaf. Which I have no opposition to; just don't call it a burger.

                                                          1. re: mamachef
                                                            ipsedixit Mar 28, 2011 11:05 AM

                                                            There was no filler whatsoever in my post; meat only, beef only. I agree wholeheartedly that adding fillers or stretching brings it to the level of meatloaf. Which I have no opposition to; just don't call it a burger.

                                                            _______________

                                                            To that, you and I totally agree.

                                                            And I would never accuse of you adding "filler" to your posts ... Your posts are always very very meaty!

                                                      2. re: ipsedixit
                                                        t
                                                        TuteTibiImperes Mar 28, 2011 09:17 PM

                                                        I think any red meat can qualify as a traditional burger. Bison/Buffalo or even lamb are close enough to beef in taste and consistency to make it work.

                                                        Ground chicken, turkey, or fish patties are something else entirely.

                                                2. m
                                                  MamaCrunch Mar 27, 2011 12:24 PM

                                                  You can cook the world's most amazing burger or the worst and I'm still going to it the same way. Plain w cheese or cheese with pickles and ketchup. I'm not a condiment fan anyway- detest mayo and mustard- but may occasionally put some BBQ sauce on a burger.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: MamaCrunch
                                                    r
                                                    ryback Mar 27, 2011 01:15 PM

                                                    British HP sauce on a great hand formed burger is my go to at home because I have the sauce. I've never seen it any place that serves burgers I've been to in theUSA.

                                                    1. re: ryback
                                                      i
                                                      Isobel_A Mar 28, 2011 04:59 AM

                                                      I've never thought of putting brown sauce on a burger, it's a full English breakfast or bacon/sausage sarnie condiment for me. Might have to investigate. . .

                                                  2. n
                                                    NE_Elaine Mar 27, 2011 04:11 AM

                                                    I have to say that yes, condiments are necessary to enjoy the perfect burger. A little ketchup, a little mustard, a little mayo, sometimes sliced dill or onion, sometimes sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms, definitely cheese, all those condiments enhance the final product in my opinion. You can keep the chili though, that belongs on hot dogs.

                                                    1. bagelman01 Mar 27, 2011 03:51 AM

                                                      Not only do they get in the way, but if I'm served a hamburger with any of the aforementioned condiments on it (or mustard) it will sit uneaten.

                                                      No condiments on the burger, just spice-salt and pepper if needed. I do like a garnish such as a pickle spear and maybe lettuce on the side.

                                                      And I prefer no bun, but to eat a great big juicy rare burger on a plate with a fork.

                                                      35 Replies
                                                      1. re: bagelman01
                                                        linguafood Mar 27, 2011 12:00 PM

                                                        I'd say even the best quality meat burger always needs AT LEAST salt & pepper.

                                                        1. re: bagelman01
                                                          j
                                                          Jenny Ondioline Mar 27, 2011 03:32 PM

                                                          Then you don't actually like hamburgers. You like patties of lightly seasoned ground beef.

                                                          Condiments are a personal choice, but no bun = no hamburger.

                                                          And I agree with linguafood on the S&P. One reason why Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in Cambridge MA serves disgusting, inedible burgers is that they do not season their meat. For some bizarre reason, they're proud of this, and even brag of it.

                                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                            goodhealthgourmet Mar 27, 2011 07:42 PM

                                                            but no bun = no hamburger.
                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                            not according to the dictionary. see definition 1b...

                                                            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio...

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                              j
                                                              Jenny Ondioline Mar 27, 2011 10:12 PM

                                                              Go on the street and ask 100 random people what a hamburger is. How many of them will say it's a sandwich made with a ground beef patty and how many will say it's the patty itself?

                                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                goodhealthgourmet Mar 27, 2011 11:54 PM

                                                                well, here in LA i'd probably just get 100 people shouting at each other over who makes a *real* burger or the best burger in this town - it's a hotly debated subject.

                                                                my point was that though you may not agree with those of us who eat it without the bun, it doesn't invalidate our choice.

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                  g
                                                                  gadfly Mar 28, 2011 09:49 AM

                                                                  I think a cooked ground beef patty with no bread is great, and I eat this more often than I eat a hamburger, but this used to always be called a chop steak. That's why so many old, traditional steak houses are called steak and chop houses. It doesn't matter to me if you call it a hamburger or a chop steak, I just don't understand the point of taking two perfectly serviceable words and combining them into one less specific word. Of course, it seems like most people these days have never heard of a chop steak, and it doesn't even seem to be in the dictionary anymore. I imagine it fell out of disuse when the hamburger got so popular that no one was interested in the non-sandwich form of the cooked ground beef patty.

                                                                  1. re: gadfly
                                                                    ipsedixit Mar 28, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                    Isn't chopped steak just salisbury steak? Which I love by the way ...

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                      j
                                                                      Just Plain Craig Mar 28, 2011 10:10 AM

                                                                      Beat me to it. I was just thinking the same thing.

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                        g
                                                                        gadfly Mar 28, 2011 10:16 AM

                                                                        Not when I was a kid. A chop was just a seasoned ground beef patty , usually a little more oblong in shape than a hamburger patty, and generally a good bit thicker than you'd find hamburgers back then - I've heard some of my older friends lament that these big thick burgers that have become gourmet items these days are really just chop steaks on a bun, not a real hamburger. That's what all the steak and chop houses served as a chop steak through the 40's, 50's, and 60's.

                                                                        1. re: gadfly
                                                                          mamachef Mar 28, 2011 10:27 AM

                                                                          The 21 Club's Classic Burger was, at it's inception, nothing but a Salisbury steak.

                                                                          1. re: mamachef
                                                                            g
                                                                            gadfly Mar 28, 2011 10:34 AM

                                                                            Interesting. I've never been to the 21 Club, and I'm pretty sure the first time I ever heard of salisbury steak was when I first saw the old metal tray TV dinners when I was in college. Chop steaks didn't contain any fillers, you ordered them to desired doneness, and you could get them topped with sauteed mushrooms or onions if you wanted, but no gravy. Some of the steakhouses we went to offered steak sauce, but most did not even have it.

                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 10:51 AM

                                                                          Salisbury Steak need only be 65% meat (USDA standards) and then assorted filler. Hamburger MUST be 100% meat and seaoning.

                                                                        3. re: gadfly
                                                                          alanbarnes Mar 28, 2011 10:13 AM

                                                                          Chophouses aren't named for chopped steak, but for chops - veal chops, lamb chops, pork chops, mutton chops, etc.

                                                                          @ipse - I've been served a plain chopped steak (aka hamburger steak), but have always assumed that the sauce is part of the definition of a Salisbury steak.

                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                            g
                                                                            gadfly Mar 28, 2011 10:25 AM

                                                                            That may well be, but the ones I went to as a kid didn't serve anything but steaks and chop steaks. They certainly thought those were the two things their name referred to, and the waiters - always with thick accents from Italy, Greece, or Portugal - nearly always joked, "So whatta you wan? A steaks or a chop?" And it was never chopped steak, just chop steak.

                                                                            But, I was well into adulthood before I ever went to any of the much older institutions in New York or Chicago, and they did have veal chops, lamb chop, etc. at those places, along with the big steel prime rib cart. So yes, I'm sure you're right, this just never dawned on me, as these weren't items you could get at the little steak and chop houses that dotted towns like New Haven, Bridgeport, and Waterbury, CT, back then.

                                                                            1. re: gadfly
                                                                              alanbarnes Mar 28, 2011 10:47 AM

                                                                              I've never seen a chop steak / chopped steak / hamburger steak referred to simply as a "chop." Maybe it's a regional thing?

                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                g
                                                                                gadfly Mar 28, 2011 10:53 AM

                                                                                Could very well be. It still hangs on here at some old places. I was 17 (in 1957) before I ever made it beyond CT, and that was just as far as NYC and Boston to interview at colleges. I think the first time I ever left the Northeast was in my mid-20's for a march on Washington, and we weren't doing too much dining out then. By the time I started to make my way around the US in a capacity where I was dining out it was the late 70's and it was hard enough just to find a chop steak in CT.

                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                  mamachef Mar 29, 2011 08:40 AM

                                                                                  Ok, here's a good 'un:
                                                                                  I was watching a re-run of Top Chef Masters, and Rick Moonen was talking about his dad's butcher shop/smokehouse in, I think, Michigan? Lo-and-behold; an old picture of the two of them in the shop reveals, over young Rick's right shoulder, a sign: "Chop Beef, .50"
                                                                                  Just thought it was relevant and interesting. : )

                                                                                2. re: gadfly
                                                                                  bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 10:59 AM

                                                                                  I have to disagree (agrain) I certainly grew up in South Central Connecticut in the 50s and 60s. Our family had busines in New Haven and Waterbury from 1952 on and we dined out regularly. Veal Chops and Double Cut Lamb chops were readilly on the menu at Steak and Chop houses with pork not seen often. Chopped steak was usually on the child's menu. A waiter asking if you wanted steak or chop may have been assessing you ability to chew or parent's willingness to pay for a steak meal for a child.
                                                                                  That said, the chances are that as most Americans are not adventuresome, the beef was the predominat feature and Veal and Lamb may have been hidden in a corner of the menu along with organ cuts such as brains, sweetbreads, and Liver. One of my favorute items at a steakhouse, especially the 95 House was a large plate of Calve's Liver with Bacon and onions. Much preferred to a siloin.

                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                    g
                                                                                    gadfly Mar 28, 2011 11:07 AM

                                                                                    The places we ate out weren't full of unadventurous Americans. I grew up in a very poor neighborhood of New Haven where almost no one spoke English. Neither of my parents spoke English particularly well until I was a teenager. When we ate out, our fellow diners were usually poor immigrants like us, and eating out was reserved for very special occasions. Even when splurging, it was often difficult to afford much more than a chop steak. When we went as far as Bridgeport or Waterbury - on the train, as we never had a car - it was to visit relatives of the same economic status as us. And most places didn't have menus; they had chalkboards.

                                                                                    Also, I never even heard of a children's menu until the 60's.

                                                                                    And, I don't remember it specifically, but I'm guessing the 95 House was named for its proximity to the turnpike. I was in college by the time the turnpike opened. New Haven and the area around it were a very different place by then, and even more different a few years after the turnpike was finished.

                                                                                    1. re: gadfly
                                                                                      bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 02:35 PM

                                                                                      Actually the 95 House was in North Haven on State Street, nowhere near I-95, but did have a branch in New London near the turnpike.

                                                                                      Reading this reply, the restaurants you ate at would probably not have been considered 'Steak and Chop Houses' based on your description. Outside of meat restaurants in meat packing districts, by the 1940s Steak and Chop houses were more refined and would have had printed menus with English speaking staff.
                                                                                      Your description of neighbor growing up leads me to belive you lived in either Grand Ave or the Hill/Oak St/Legion Ave. Great small ethnic eateries in their day, but no Steak and Chop House I remember.
                                                                                      The closest New Haven had to a Steak and Chop House in the 1950s would have been Kaysey's on College Street or Fitzgeralds on Chapel towrds Day Street. Downtown restaurants were either more Continental or private clubs such as the Union League or the QuinnipiaC Club who both served a Chop House type menu to their members.

                                                                                      The Colonila House in Hamden was A SteaK/Chop/New England Seafood House in the 50s and 60s. No women in the main dining room weekday lunchtime, and definitely had a child's menu in the 50s. It was the first place I ever had Prime Rib or Oysters.

                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                        g
                                                                                        gadfly Mar 28, 2011 03:30 PM

                                                                                        Quite a number of them sure called themselves steak and chop houses. Many used beefsteak in the name, usually the Italian ones, but others had steak and chop house right in the name. So, sure, some people may have thought these weren't fancy enough to count as steak and chop houses, but those people should learn a little history. Steakhouses evolved from the beefsteak banquet, a working class celebration often taking place in church basements in poor neighborhoods, and only later co-opted by the wealthy, originally as a way to buy the votes of the poor. Celentano threw a beefsteak banquet every year in our neighborhood, and I doubt anyone would have voted Republican if not for that.

                                                                                        But this is getting pretty ridiculously off topic from what a hamburger with no bun is called.

                                                                              2. re: gadfly
                                                                                bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                                                "That's why so many old, traditional steak houses are called steak and chop houses."

                                                                                Sorry, you're wrong. The chop in 'Chop House' does not refer to ground beef. The chops are ususally rib or blade cut bone in Lamb, Veal or Pork CHOPS. In fact a bone in Rib steak is sometimes referred to as a chop.

                                                                                Take a look on line at an assortment of 'Steak and Chop House' menus and you will find offereings of Lamb Chops (often double cut), Veal Chops and Lamb Chops. In the US steak is usually reserved for beef, but sometimes applied to other meats.

                                                                                1. re: gadfly
                                                                                  bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 10:48 AM

                                                                                  BTW, the word is CHOPPED Steak, not chop steak. Growing up, my parents only allowed us to eat hamburger at steakhouses who sold a lot of steak, so we were assured the meat was fresh. Typically the steakhouses would grind or chop the tails of the shell steaks (the end protruding from the strip) and serve chopped steak dinners for children, the elderly unable to chew firm meat and those with limited budgets. The item became popular as a luncheon item as it was not as large as most steaks and could be cookked and served quickly to workers with a limited lunch period.

                                                                                  If one orders a chopped steak or hamburger steak dinner in a diner, they ususlly just pull 2 patties from the refrigerator, hand modl them into a larger patty. cokk and serve with mashed potatoes and veg, a blue plate special.

                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                    g
                                                                                    gadfly Mar 28, 2011 10:58 AM

                                                                                    It may have been chopped steak where you were eating, but it was chop steak or even chopsteak, shortened by just about everyone to simply chop, where I was eating in the 40's and 50's.

                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                      alanbarnes Mar 28, 2011 11:44 AM

                                                                                      >>"BTW, the word is CHOPPED Steak, not chop steak."<<

                                                                                      Um, no. Both are used. http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...

                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                        g
                                                                                        gadfly Mar 28, 2011 11:52 AM

                                                                                        Thanks. I was trying to find a dictionary entry and failing. Really, with their accents, if the staff at any of the places we dined at back then tried to say "chopped steak" it would have come out as "chop esteak" anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where the minor difference in terminology arose from.

                                                                                        1. re: gadfly
                                                                                          bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 02:37 PM

                                                                                          and the chopped steak would have been made with a mezzaluna, not put through an electric meat grinder. Quite a different consisentcy from hamburger.

                                                                                          And I know that I'll raise the ire of some and this is not being discriminatory or looking down on them, but the New Haven immigrant community who ran and worked in these neighborhood reestaurants were often illiterate in multiple languages.

                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                            g
                                                                                            gadfly Mar 28, 2011 03:38 PM

                                                                                            Definitely not universally true. Plenty of places used ground beef in their chop steaks, and the few places I know to still get one all use ground beef. One person's experience clearly doesn't make for universal truths.

                                                                                            And yes, you will tend to raise ire when making that kind of comment tangentially.

                                                                                            1. re: gadfly
                                                                                              bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 08:30 PM

                                                                                              G, I was referring to the chopped steaks of 50-60 years ago in the neighborhood immigrant restaurants. Today, it would be nearly impossible to find a beef hand chopped for this meal, everything seems to go through an electric meat grinder.

                                                                                      2. re: bagelman01
                                                                                        susans Aug 6, 2011 07:25 PM

                                                                                        Before my family moved to California, we lived in Manhattan. My mother grew up in the Bronx and Hoboken. She still calls ground beef "chop meat".

                                                                                  2. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                    t
                                                                                    TuteTibiImperes Mar 28, 2011 09:14 PM

                                                                                    Interesting, I would have never thought to order a chop steak at a steakhouse, to me, chop steak has always been a staple of diner fare. I do enjoy a good chop steak, served up with fried onions and fries smothered in gravy of course, and it is one of my go-to diner meals if the place looks too sketchy to trust the liver and onions.

                                                                                    1. re: TuteTibiImperes
                                                                                      FoodFuser Mar 28, 2011 10:43 PM

                                                                                      LOL,
                                                                                      LOO

                                                                                      Lover of Liver, Lover of Onions.
                                                                                      And Somewhere in there the mince of the beef.

                                                                                2. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                  bagelman01 Mar 28, 2011 10:36 AM

                                                                                  no bun = no hamburger???????????????????

                                                                                  Methinks you know not of what you speak. No bun, or bread may mean no hamburger SANDWICH. But hamburger refers to the ground beef (because by law here in Connecticut it must be 100% beef to use the word commercially) patty. That payy may be served as a sandwich, or often as a hamburger steak on a plate with potato or vegetable, or the traditional diner diet plate of hamburger patty, cottage cheese and canned fruit.

                                                                                  I c an assure you that next month during the 8 days of Passover, many Jews will be eating hamburgers with nary a bun in sight.

                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                    j
                                                                                    Jenny Ondioline Mar 28, 2011 10:47 AM

                                                                                    Whereas one state north, plain ground beef is called hamburg, not hamburger. Go figure.

                                                                                    I repeat: ask 100 people what they think of when you say "a hamburger" (note the article), and see how many of them say a ground beef patty by itself is "a hamburger."

                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                      alanbarnes Mar 28, 2011 10:52 AM

                                                                                      Grocery stores sell "hamburger" that's nothing but raw ground meat. A hamburger patty - cooked or raw - by definition excludes the bun. And a hamburger steak, discussed above, is a fine thing indeed. But if a patron at any restaurant, diner, coffee shop, or hamburger stand in America were to order a "hamburger" and receive anything other than what you call a "hamburger sandwich," that person would have justifiable cause for outrage.

                                                                                3. t
                                                                                  tastesgoodwhatisit Mar 27, 2011 03:33 AM

                                                                                  If the burger is really, really good you don't *need* condiments the way you do on inferior ones. But well chosen condiments will enhance the burger eating experience and make it better.

                                                                                  My choice of condiments vary, but blue cheese can be an excellent match to a good burger. Otherwise, I tend more towards pickle or relish and mustard over ketchup or mayo. I'm not generally a cheeseburger fan, except for the blue cheese version.

                                                                                  1. David11238 Mar 26, 2011 07:41 PM

                                                                                    It's all about preference. While I don't like ketchup or anything else on my hot dogs (it over powers, IMO) I loves me some ketchup on my burger. No matter whom makes it. I'll take a little bit of raw onion, a slice of tomato, salt & pepper as well. All, again, in my opinion,enhance the flavor of the meat.

                                                                                    1. Akitist Mar 26, 2011 07:25 PM

                                                                                      I think the bun can make a difference. It changes the character of the sandwich.

                                                                                      My personal likes are a slice of white onion and good (ripe, preferably homegrown) tomato, a leaf of lettuce, a small smear of brown mustard and some mayo. On an onioh roll this is really good.

                                                                                      I'm dumbstruck by the inclusion of oxtail in a burger blend, not because I think it woul be bad, but (at a guess) oxtail is maybe 15% meat and at 4 bucks/lb for the tails at market price that translates to over $26 per pound of meat. Spendy stuff.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Akitist
                                                                                        David11238 Mar 26, 2011 07:43 PM

                                                                                        I have my butcher grind skirt steak, boneless rib eye and porterhouse tails. Frigging delicious. But, I will take a Big Mac as well as a Whopper too.

                                                                                        1. re: David11238
                                                                                          Akitist Mar 28, 2011 10:32 AM

                                                                                          There are quite a few favorite blends, but one involving oxtails is pretty strange, considering the amount of effort and waste involved.

                                                                                      2. t
                                                                                        TCtoothpick Mar 26, 2011 06:58 PM

                                                                                        If you toast the bun and the burger is juicy and seasoned, no handles required. Although, if there is doctoring needed, BBQ sauce or Worcester for sure.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: TCtoothpick
                                                                                          GraydonCarter Mar 28, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                                                          >If you toast the bun

                                                                                          Bourdain and Keller say a toasted bun is essential. It prevents the juices from soaking through the bottom bun and disintegrating it.

                                                                                          I prefer the texture of a non-toasted bun. It might help if the bottom half of the bun were thicker but it always seems like the bun gets sliced with the top being the thicker half.

                                                                                          I wonder why there is no science applied to the art of baking to make the bottom bun less absorbant.

                                                                                          1. re: GraydonCarter
                                                                                            m
                                                                                            mateo21 Mar 30, 2011 06:36 AM

                                                                                            This is good case for Mayo, however, because being mostly fat (or almost all fat) it will first: help prevent bun soggy-ness (for a time at least) and second: mayo is a sauce waiting to happen.

                                                                                            On that second point, Ipsedixit, because I think the sum of Mayo + burger juices = more than those individually, I consider mayo on a burger a must (even more so if said mayo is homemade). I rarely put ketchup and sometimes mustard but always mayo.

                                                                                        2. alanbarnes Mar 26, 2011 02:34 PM

                                                                                          Maybe it's not absolutely necessary, but I almost always put a bit of mustard on my burgers. Sometimes a little mayo joins the party, too.

                                                                                          They aren't there to compensate for lack of moisture in the patty or mediocre texture in the bun. And they don't "get in the way" of the burger any more than a creamed horseradish "gets in the way" of a piece of prime rib. The flavors complement each other.

                                                                                          By the same token, some thin rings of onion add piquancy and sweetness. And I like a bit of lettuce for textural contrast. Tomato is acceptable, too, but only if it's a real tomato - none of this out-of-season grocery-store stuff that may as well be made from Naugahyde.

                                                                                          But when it comes down to the best and simplest burger out there, a home-baked brioche bun, fresh-ground meat, and a smear of coarse mustard are all it really takes.

                                                                                          1. jfood Mar 26, 2011 01:36 PM

                                                                                            Tier 1 (Musts) - Good bun and ketchup
                                                                                            Tier 2 (Really Like) - Bacon or caramelized onions
                                                                                            Tier 3 (If available) - Pickle chips, tomato, lettuce, mayo and in the mood

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jfood
                                                                                              ipsedixit Mar 26, 2011 01:49 PM

                                                                                              I'm not against condiments, or even garnishes like caramelized onions and chips, but do you put all of those things on a good quality burger?

                                                                                              If I have a burger made from equal portions of quality beef -- 1/3 brisket, 1/3 sirloin, 1/3 oxtail -- freshly ground, loosely hand formed, and cooked just right -- juicy and just approaching medium rare -- I don't want anything getting in the way of my burger, except for maybe some salt & pepper and a bun.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                jfood Mar 26, 2011 02:00 PM

                                                                                                That's cool.

                                                                                                I do not think they are "getting in the way". I think they are adding additional flavors to complement, the salty, spicy, sweet... philosophy.

                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                  Nicolette S Mar 27, 2011 01:37 PM

                                                                                                  That sounds awfully good, ipsedixit.

                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                    i
                                                                                                    Isobel_A Mar 28, 2011 04:51 AM

                                                                                                    I guess if I'm wanting pure beef, I'll have steak. If I want a burger, then essential components of a burger are cheese, bacon and ketchup. Preferably onions, too, and maybe tomato. Good quality meat, cheese, and bacon? Absolutely fantastic burger! It just doesn't feel like a proper burger without the condiments and additions.

                                                                                                2. w
                                                                                                  wattacetti Mar 26, 2011 01:23 PM

                                                                                                  I guess it depends. If the burger is appropriately seasoned, made from good beef, and is properly cooked, maybe not. If there are issues with the patty, condiments make it go down easier.

                                                                                                  In Japan the hanbaagu comes with demi-glace sauce. Slightly different condiment I guess.

                                                                                                  1. Uncle Bob Mar 26, 2011 01:20 PM

                                                                                                    A little mayo...a little mustard..Yes!! ~~ Ketchup? ....Never!

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Uncle Bob
                                                                                                      linguafood Mar 26, 2011 03:52 PM

                                                                                                      Mustard? Never.

                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                        Uncle Bob Mar 26, 2011 05:16 PM

                                                                                                        Bless your heart..........:)

                                                                                                    2. arktos Mar 26, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                                                                      Try putting it on a potato bun.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: arktos
                                                                                                        ipsedixit Mar 26, 2011 12:55 PM

                                                                                                        What does the bun have anything to do with it?

                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                          Nicolette S Mar 27, 2011 01:34 PM

                                                                                                          I had a friend in high school whose mother made us the most delicious cheeseburgers! Not gourmet, but here's what she did:

                                                                                                          Fried burgers in a skillet, then placed a slice of cheese, the top half of a buttered onion roll from the grocery store, then the bottom half on top of that, face up. She put the lid on and the cheese melted, the bun steamed. I'm telling you, those burgers were delicious. No ketchup or anything else added. The bun was a big part of it, I always thought. Haven't had one like that in many years. :)

                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                            Just Plain Craig Mar 27, 2011 01:47 PM

                                                                                                            The bun is easily 25-30% of the taste of the burger. Try buurgers with a regular bun, onion roll or potato roll, maybe even a seasme seed bun. Each changes the taste of the burger greatly.

                                                                                                            1. re: Just Plain Craig
                                                                                                              ipsedixit Mar 27, 2011 03:21 PM

                                                                                                              I don't dispute that the bun changes the flavor and texture of the burger, but what I do dispute is that the bun either changes or necessitates the addition of condiments.

                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                Just Plain Craig Mar 28, 2011 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                Agreed, a nice juicy burger with a tasty roll can be enough.

                                                                                                        2. linguafood Mar 26, 2011 12:10 PM

                                                                                                          Even the best burger, for me, needs a bit of mayo on the buns and a squeeze of ketchup. Though the ketchup isn't necessary if there is a tomato slice.

                                                                                                          Of course, I also never eat a burger without cheese. But that's perhaps a different thread.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                            Delucacheesemonger Mar 26, 2011 12:12 PM

                                                                                                            That is funny, the good ones l do skip the cheese.

                                                                                                          2. Delucacheesemonger Mar 26, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                                                                            Consider me silly, but will dip an expensive burger in ketchup sometimes, other bites plain.

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