The first rule of Burger Club is - you do not talk about Burger Club. The second rule of Burger Club is - you DO NOT talk about Burger Club..."
Well, maybe a little.
Burger Club came into being because of my brother, Mike. He and I thought it would be fun to get together for a burger about once a month. We choose places in New York which are thought to have the "best" hamburgers, according to some of the local press. We'd eat a hamburger and catch up on each other's lives.
A couple of months ago, my friend, Amy, joined us for a bite at Rare Bar and Grill on Lexington Avenue. We had the Murray's Cheeseburger. The recipe changes weekly. This week, we enjoyed a smoky concoction with aged cheese. The toppings were delicious, but the beef was a little grainy for my taste. The star of the evening was the basket of assorted fries. The trio of sweet potato, waffle and shoestring comes with chili ketchup and maple dipping sauces.
Conversation centered around work, mostly. Amy started a new job at ESPN. She's been working on the news magazine, E60 and loves her job. Her work as an associate producer is varied; she'll be a cameraman one day, an interviewer the next. But Amy's strength lies in her creativity and her meticulous attention to detail. I've been lucky enough to catch some episodes she's worked on and the stories are fascinating.
Last month, my brother was working late and did not attend Burger Club. But our little group has now expanded to include friends from work and from life. In November, Joyce, Trey and Rob join me at J.G. Melon on Third Avenue. I'm biased since these are my favourite burgers in the city. Smaller than those found in many other places, these little gems make up for their size with their incredible taste and texture. The beef is juicy but not greasy, perfectly seasoned and meant to be savored. The J.G. Melon burger is served simply, with pickle and onion. Their chip-style fries are crispy and have just enough potato for a great mouth feel.
Conversation on this day ranges from the lighthearted and fun to somber. We choose a middle name for Rob, who does not have one. We talk about relationships and family. Trey just lost his younger brother in a horrible motorcycle accident in Texas. We discuss loss and grief and how this season magnifies all of these feelings.
This December 21 marks the third anniversary of my mother's death from pancreatic cancer. It's no coincidence that she died on the darkest day of the year. Even now I find myself reaching to call her on the phone to ask her advice or to share good news. She loved hamburgers and I'm sure would have made a fine addition to our Burger Club.