While Chef Robinson [of Mediterra] dismays that Stage Left in New Brunswick has been lauded by several publications as the "Best Burger in NJ," he asserts that his burger is the one with the solid Jersey credentials. But to be fair, it is like comparing Mary Chapin Carpenter to Bruce Springsteen--and the hamburger at Stage Left has not only been hailed as the best in New Jersey, Citysearch stretched the borders to award it "Best in NYC" in 2000. Beefy and succulent, bathed in a subtle, smoky applewood perfume, its appeal is universal -- a platonic ideal of hamburger heaven.
Built to exacting, taste-tested standards, the 11-ounce burger is made from topquality Angus beef, ground to specification, with a lean-to-fat ratio "you don't want to know," says co-owner Mark Pascal. Add to it some Neusky's hand-cured slab bacon, sharp, three-year Vermont cheddar, a buttery, griddled brioche bun, chipotle mayonnaise and crusty, wedge-cut steak fries, and you're really living large.
It's only served at the bar and during lunch, but the handsome and genteel surroundings at Stage Left still make munching away on the sloppy, indulgent burger, seem a little perverse.