A Burger Falls XIX Stories

Burger Breakdown

XIX at the Hyatt - Map It!
$18.00
Absolutely no bacon, but a bunch of other items that aren't as good, including pickled onions, blue cheese, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, paprika aioli, and a heaping portion of disappointment.
Sweet potato fries come with a terrible burger on the side.
3.5/10

The Hyatt's 19th floor restaurant, XIX, screams of money. You know a restaurant is high-class when there is a dedicated employee waiting by the entrance to tell you that you cannot eat dinner. No, it wasn't the hostess, she was in a different room. Upon stepping off the elevator we found ourselves in a large round room with ample seating, a gorgeous chandelier, a picturesque balcony and no patrons. That is when we met Gilda, who had a nametag describing her sole function as "Bubble Burster/Wealth Assayer." We had both worn dinner jackets to avoid being turned away but she was probably very experienced and saw through our clothes to our wallets. Even so, we were urged to have a seat in the cocktail lounge where a burger, albeit a more expensive one, was available.

The lounge is the wood-and-leather-furnished, high-ceilinged, dimly lit space in which you might expect the city's political corruption engine to run most smoothly. A realist portrait of an old white man in 18th century garb and a paltry beer selection lets you know that whiskey is the preferred drink here and your money is taken more seriously if it's been aged.

The Burger: A dry aged patty on a brioche bun served with blue cheese, pickled onions, arugula, heirloom tomatos and paprika aioli, with sweet potato fries on the side. The potential is as great as the height above sea level and and the price tag combined.

A photo of the burger at XIX

Laurence: I've hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. There's a post box down there along with a ranger's station and some places for hikers to sleep. The letters get out only one way, by mule. It's one of only two places I know in the U.S. where mule is still the best method of transportation for the post office, and I've been to Brooklyn. There's also a place to resupply that has beer. Bud is about eight bucks a can down there. It's expensive, but you can't really argue as there's nowhere else with beer and you know it was a pain in the ass (literally) to haul it in. Also, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a Bud tastes like fucking Cristal.

I bring this up because a similar quality beer at XIX (pronounced "zix") costs about the same price as it does at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It's a bad sign.

Our waitress also had some issues, probably with us. When I ordered a drink she decided to make Kyle's order the same and walked away without another word.

About an hour later she returned to take our orders. The exchange went like this:

Waitress: "For you?"
Laurence: "The burger, medium well."
Waitress: "And you?"
Kyle: "Also the burger, medium."
Waitress: "Would you like bacon and blue cheese on that?"
Both: "Absolutely."

An hour later our burgers arrived. They were beautiful, the way that food in the commercials is beautiful: it photographs well even though you know the syrup is rubber cement, the whipped cream is caulk and the milk is white glue.

Upon a cursory examination I noticed my bacon was missing. I looked to Kyle who was thoroughly disassembling his meal in shocked disbelief. We consulted the menu. Bacon was not in the meal's description. And yet she asked us if we wanted it. The feeling was similar to being offered a free trip to the Bahamas, only to find that the Bahamas have been destroyed by a nuclear weapon and the trip has been canceled. If that seems a  bombastic analogy, you obviously don't like bacon that much.

Lack of bacon aside, the bun was burned, with hints of black charcoal flavoring each bite. The onions were pickled, which in this case didn't work out so well because the acidic flavors weren't balanced by anything positive from the burger. And then there is the tragedy of the meat.

Dry-aged beef is wonderful, as we've mentioned previously, but mine was overcooked to a flavorless brown. It was so overdone that I couldn't even tell whether or not it actually was dry-aged beef or if we were just being charged dry-aged beef prices for a regular burger. On the up side, the burned outer edges blended well with the burned bun. There were ample greens supplied with the meat; too ample, in fact. It may have been a ploy to hide the charred meal.

About the only good thing I can say about the meal, aside for the fact that the room and view are very nice, is that the sweet potato fries are very tasty. They're not the best and not even worth a trip to the Hyatt to get, but they are very good. The sauce that comes with them, however, is just okay, and the salsa, which was also probably designed to be put on the burger to cover the flavor, was likely from a jar.

As we were leaving we noticed four older people, two couples, sitting in the dining room from which we had been turned away. They were eating delicious-looking meals. The men wore Rolexes and the women wore diamond earrings and pearl necklaces. I checked the time on my Timex, pressed the down button on the elevator and hoped to get to 500 Degrees before closing time and Nodding Head before last call. Rating: 4/10.

the bar at XIX

Kyle: There was but one thing I wanted out of XIX. Walking into the bar, I wanted to have a Manhattan and look down on Philadelphia, much the way Manhattan looks down on Philadelphia, or the way the rest of the world looks down on Philadelphia. So when I said "That's a good beer" as Laurence ordered a Flying Fish Dubbel, and the waitress took it to mean I wanted one as well and walked away without asking, we were off to a bad start. Strike one.

the view from XIXInitial disappointment notwithstanding, I was pretty excited to go to XIX (pronounced "Fuck you, proletariat rat"), until I realized that the 19th floor of any building is kid's stuff. Much like most Sundays, I was still beneath Billy Penn's penis, which was a big disappointment—the 19th floor, that is, not Penn's peener. Two strikes down, and I was already losing hope in the restaurant and on my grasp of sports analogies. I didn't know if strikes were good or bad, but I did know that there was only one way to salvage this evening: bacon.

As Laurence noted, the waitress asked us if we wanted bacon, which is like offering an alcoholic a glass of Glen Grant '36 and nude photos of Mila Kunis. Also, as Laurence noted, our burgers arrived sans bacon and scotch and pornography. Which, really, should be the end of the review. You don't offer a dying man a rope, and then smash his outreached hand with a sock full of acid-leaking D-batteries. Although that would be really funny.

Mental note: crush dying man's hopes.

photo of the burger at XIXIt's hard to give a fair appraisal of the burger after such a 19-story letdown, but there are some things worth mentioning. For what it's worth, the beef patty was hand-made, uneven and ugly like a pug's snout. And that's the best thing I can say about it. Everything else was downhill. The beef came out burnt, to the point where I couldn't tell if it was dry-aged or just dry, and what I could taste was bland. Meanwhile, there was no bacon. The onion was almost raw and very vinegary, while the greens on top were extreme acidic and bitter. This was not in any way offset by the fact that there was no bacon. My brioche bun was semi-sweet, but extremely dry like the burger, and I found myself repeatedly reaching for the beer I didn't order to wash it down while thinking about how some nice, fat, juicy bacon would really help the dish. The smoked aioli had a bite almost like chipotle, which was the only thing that let me finish the meal, as it somewhat masked the rest of the bad flavors.In my notes the only descriptor I wrote was "bitter," both for the taste of the food and my feelings about the experience. Also, there was no fucking bacon on the fucking hamburger. This is the third strike. And also the fourth through tenth strikes. I don't know how this analogy is supposed to work. It's a bowling thing, right?

On a happier note, the sweet potato fries were thick and entirely edible, making them the best part of the meal. Wait, no, scratch that: the best part of the meal is the view. The second best part of the meal is when it's over. Fries come a distant third.

XIX's burger costs a hefty $18 dollars. That's a dollar for each floor above ground level, and the elevation is all you get for your money. Based on taste alone, I'd give this burger a 5, but it gets its score cut in half, rounded up, for lying to me about bacon. Nobody puts bacon in the corner. Rating: 3/10.

Verdict: 

If you smell of money, you might get a good meal, but there are better to be had elsewhere. If you smell of having a day job, go anywhere else on our top 10. In any event, the only reason to go is for the view and maybe a cocktail.

3.5
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