For the second month in a row we tried a thin ‘burger stand’ type burger. Rub BBQ on West 23rd street offers a 5oz, caste iron, pan cooked patty burger that we heard was worth a visit. Turns out that our group was split on whether that was true or not. Actually, of the 50+ burgers we have reviewed over the past 5+ years, the burger at Rub received the widest range of rankings from the BOTM members.
Let’s back up a bit. Rub only offers burgers on Monday nights, after 6pm. They have a hamburger, cheeseburger and ‘Rub’ Burger. The cheeseburger comes with Velveeta Cheese. The Rub Burger has the Velveeta, grilled onions and what they call a ‘spicy aioli’. They also offer a ‘special’ burger each Monday night which is taken from various parts of the country. When we were there, the ‘special’ burger was from Montana and came topped with a substance made of chopped peanuts and a miracle whip/marshmallow type ‘fluff’. The special burger is not listed anywhere on the menu, nor are the other three burgers, which, instead, are added to the menu on Monday’s via a three inch by two inch square that is stuck to the upper corner of the menu. It just lists: Hamburger, then Cheeseburger, then Rub Burger (there are no descriptions).
The manager sat us and was extremely helpful in describing the burger options. She made sure to tell us that she recommends we don’t make any changes to the burger because the changes would alter the flavor profile the restaurant is going for with each burger (she was referring to adding bacon, holding the ‘aioli’ sauce on the Rub Burger, etc). She also told us that they serve bacon and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Really? Bacon and chocolate chips? Yup, we’ll have that. (More on that later). The burger patty is cooked by putting it into a cast iron pan, and then pushing it flat and thin. (The meat composition was not shared with us).
When we ordered, we were told to expect that the burgers take 20-30 minutes to cook, that they come cooked medium, and we were again reminded that the restaurant did not allow any changes or substitutions to the burgers (although after our persistent conversation with the waitress explained that we discussed an allergy with the manager, an exception was made). We found it a bit odd that it should take 20-30 minutes to cook a 5oz flattened burger, but it sure did. We all ordered either the cheeseburger or the Rub Burger. We also ordered one of the ‘special’ burgers to try. While we waited for the burgers we had the BBQ Bacon Chunks appetizer, the BBQ chicken wings and Fritos pizza, which was a bag of Fritos slit open down the middle and then covered with their chili/nacho toppings. The first two apps were fairly good (the wings were a bit sweet from the BBQ sauce). The Fritos app was outstanding. Definitely worth a try.
After what seemed like at least 25 minutes we got most of the burgers (the ‘Special’ burger took another 10 minutes!). If I could use one word to describe our reaction to tasting the burgers, it was ‘surprise’. First at how many of us didn’t find the burger to be very good, and then, over the fact that we had two guys who thought it was outstanding and two who thought it was awful. To some of us the cheeseburger had no distinguishable qualities about it, while others thought it ‘oozed’ flavor. The grease from the burger soaked the soft bun so much that that bread was a non-factor. On the Rub Burger, the aioli provided a mayo-type taste, which is great for those that like that type of flavor or consistency on your burger, but if you don’t, then you have a big problem. Finally the ‘special’ burger was ’odd’ (the entire group agreed). The fluff mixed with the peanuts created a flavor we definitely did not like on the burger. In fact, you got the feeling you weren’t eating a burger because the flavor from the peanuts and the fluff was the primary taste. Two side orders of fries and one of onion strings were excellent.
Lastly we ordered the deep fried Oreos and the bacon and chocolate chip cookies. The Oreos were good although with the thick batter on them, the regular sized Oreo got lost in the fried dough surrounding it (it was kind of like a beignet surrounding an Oreo). A double-stuffed Oreo might have been better. The bacon and chocolate chip cookies were disappointing. They seemed to be missing the bacon. Half of us didn’t get any bacon in our bite and those that did were split between whether we liked it or not. Some found the taste intriguing while other thought it was awful.
As mentioned in the start of this review, when we finally got to ranking the burgers, the distance between the best ranking and the worst ranking was W I D E. Out of the 54 burgers we have rated, there were two rankings for Rub in the top 10 and two in the 40’s! The other three rankings were spread from the mid 20’s to the mid 30’s, giving Rub a final ranking of 35. This is definitely a burger that received the full range of opinions from our seven members and one you may love, or hate!