DB Bistro Moderne – The OG of Luxury Burgers

There is something to be said for the plain burger. The fast food burger. Even the occasional turkey burger. But the king of all burgers, the big mac-daddy of them all has to be the DB Bistro burger. When Daniel Boulud introduced his foie gras and truffle stuffed burger, all bets were off. This ushered in an era of burgers made with Kobe beef, topped with lobster, and served with everything except a black AMEX card.

But many of these burgers were merely an exercise in opulence with no thought towards balance of taste or texture.

Boulud’s burger is still around, the OG of luxury burgers. Is it worth they hype?

The dining room is nothing to brag about. Attractive? Sure. But, also in the middle of Times Square, it is best described as business casual and utilitarian. I would feel equally comfortable dining in nice jeans and a shirt as in heels and a cocktail dress.

Cheese Crisps with Red Pepper and Olive Dips

These little cheese crisps were light and incredibly flaky. Infused with the mellow, nutty taste of Gruyère cheese, they were comprised of at least 12 layers of crisp,  buttery pastry. Dipped into the roasted red peppers, which tasted like they were warmed by the sun then sweetened with fruity olive oil. Also enjoyable was the garlicky, anchovy laden tapenade. This elevated bar snack was a welcome starter to what would be a very decadent meal.

Country Duck Pate with Pickled Vegetables and Dijon Mustard

This pate is outstanding. It is more than just a hodge podge of different offal, it is a carefully constructed mixture of tender meat, iron-y offal, and luscious duck fat. It spreads evenly at room temperature, infusing the warm toast with a deeply duck-y taste and soft texture. There is the fragrant scent of cloves, tart pickled vegetables and spicy, grainy mustard. This is like very rich liver pate with bits of tender, moist duck meat scattered throughout.


This sauternes, a 2004 Château Doisy-Védrines, was superior to the glass I had in Palm Beach and complimented the duck beautifully. Thick, topaz liquid slid down my throat, warming it and bringing out the sweet, delicate notes of the duck fat. It was really a beautiful combination.

House Made Fettucine with Crispy Pancetta, Brown Butter, Aged Parmesan and Shaved Summer Truffles

This dish surpassed expectations. The house made pasta proved yet again that fresh pasta is a different beast than dried pasta. So toothsome, chewy yet delicate, the noodles threatened to melt in my mouth but held their own against the garlicky shards of pancetta. The brown butter was thick and rich, coating each noodle and shred of salty Parmesan cheese. The crowning glory was a veritable windfall of truffles – they are not shy on the truffles here. We actually saw a gentleman come out and present a server with a whole truffle, then shave it on, just to ensure she felt she got her money’s worth. My plate came with plenty of truffles the first time around. Less earthy and dominant than black truffles, summer truffles are light, ethereal tasting, a shroud of umami around rich, buttery flavors. It gives it an aromatic, fragrant to a dish that could otherwise seem rather heavy and one-note. This dish is not to be missed.

Black Sea Bass with Summer Squash, Mosto Vinaigrette, Tomato Confit Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

Delicate black bass was filleted beautifully and cooked until flaky but still moist, with a crispy, delightfully salty crust. The vegetables made a light, vibrant summer ragout and the  tomatoes were of special note. Peeled and cooked gently for hours, they burst with a sweet, tangy,almost jam-like taste. This fish was beyond reproach and yet…it went almost uneaten. That is because of:

Original DB Burger – Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short RibsFoie Gras and Black Truffle, Served on a Parmesan Bun with  Pommes Soufflées

I had my doubts about this burger. How could a burger this overloaded with ingredients retain its integrity as a burger? Furthermore, how could a burger with this many tastes manage to respect all of its fine ingredients. This was going to be a disaster, I was sure of it.

I was so, so wrong.

The first thing I said when I tasted this was “I felt like I have never eaten beef before.” This was SO beefy, with its double hit of medium rare ground sirloin, rosy and robust in taste with the tender shortribs. The short ribs were not stringy or gamy, but cooked until the flavor was mellow and deep against the vibrant ground beef. The bun was soft and squishy, but did not deteriorate from the copious meaty juices. The taste of truffle was delicate but ever-present, savory and heady next to the sweet madeira in the short ribs. The piece de resistance was, of course, the sizable disc of foie gras, melting and rich. It swam in my mouth, almost dancing, the sweet, buttery component of the dish. I still don’t know how these ingredients all worked so well together – even describing it seems like overload – but the taste is one that I will never forget. One half was perfect – more than that and I would have gone into cardiac arrest. Happy cardiac arrest.

The pommes souffles are potato chips meet french fry. The world’s crispest french fry that has been hollowed out, so only warm, potato-scented air remains. Delicious dipped in the house made mayonnaise.

Did I mention that I ate the hamburger with no condiments? It needed none. It was ideal.

This meal, starting with the excellent, attentive service (our server noticed we were on a romantic dinner outing and was sent over a celebratory glass of sparkling wine) and ending with a plate of indulgent mignardises, was spot on. Though the dining room’s temperature was a bit warm and certainly more casual than the food would suggest, the dinner was memorable in every way. It is, also, extremely reasonably priced. It offers a prix fixe menu, brunch, and the burger itself is only $32. There must be $35 of foie gras in that patty alone. This burger is the best I have ever had. It is the best I will ever have.

The search for the perfect burger is over – it is right in midtown and it lives up to its storied hype.

db Bistro Moderne on Urbanspoon


  1. Well, damn. Now I have to go to TSQ. You realize I avoid that part of the city like the damn plague, right?

  2. Izzit db burger is the fusion dish by chef Daniel boulud?


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