the spot: J.G. Melon 89 MacDougal st. NY NY 10012 other locations in upper east side(original) and upper westside
the bucks: $12.50
the full nelson: one of NYC’s most celebrated burgers is worth a visit
The J.G. Melon burger has been on my radar for years now as it consistently makes the best of NYC burger annual round ups. Another classic example of the NYC pub style burger, much like Corner Bistro and PJ Clark’s, expect to find a thick patty cooked to requested temperature and a classic garnish of pickle and onion. In the age of chef driven concept burgers, the J.G. Melon burger relies on simplicity and quality but does it warrant a $12.50 price tag? Well, context is everything, but this burger is worth taking a closer look at.
In distinguishing between the burgers at Corner Bistro, PJ Clarks and J.G. Melon, the minimalist toppings that come with the J.G. Melon burger speaks volumes. Nothing artisanal about these pickles and that’s ok. I love me some bread and butter pickles but the sourness of a classic hamburger pickle plus the aggressive bite of raw red onion pairs well beef as long as the ratios are correct. In a smashed burger, red onions can overwhelm, but when you have a half pound patty cooked to a proper medium rare, as is the case with the J.G. Melon burger, red onion works splendidly. I know medium rare beef isn’t for everyone, nor is raw onion, but much like steak tartare, the combination of the aforementioned makes the experience.
With a melt like that, you know the J.G. Melon burger rocks American cheese and I got no problem with that. I love fancy cheese and love the depth of flavors that come with it. But a cheeseburger first and foremost needs to have a cheese that melts well. And American cheese can melt like no other. The size of the patty should be taken into account again because that one single slice of cheese is just enough to cover this beast of a patty. When you think about a burger like In-N-Out, whose famous double double pushes two slices of cheese on less than a quarter pound of beef, the ratio of meat to cheese on the J.G. Melon burger is a staggeringly different approach. One that clearly favors the beef. And speaking of . . .
This is pretty much the point, people: a burger cooked like a steak. Even with only three toppings, this burger comes apart for the final third act because of the gargantuan juicy beef patty. A fresh bun, classic toppings and a serious serving of beef define the J.G. Melon burger experience. As far as value goes, in the context of NYC burgers that sit on average in the upper teens, this my friends is indeed some NYC Bang for your Burger Buck.