week, I had the strongest craving for a Patty Melt. I confess that the Patty Melt is far and away my absolute
favorite chopped meat sandwich. You must never call a Patty Melt a hamburger because to purists, the Patty Melt is emphatically not one. To those afficianados like me, it has just four
non-negotiable elements that set it apart from any hamburger or
cheeseburger: A beef patty, rye bread, sautéed onions and Swiss cheese. There can be no deviation from this
ingredient list. Furthermore, the patty
must be oval to match the shape of the rye bread. The rye bread must be
griddled, never toasted. The onions must
be sliced very thin and cooked until caramelized. The cheese offers a little flexibility: it
can be Swiss or Gruyere or a mixture of the two, grated or sliced. What emerges from this recipe is decadently
rich; the cheese permeating the bread and meat and that crisp, buttered rye
bread is essential to the character of the dish, its aroma inextricably linked
to the pleasure of the Patty Melt. It’s
completely decadent, there’s no denying it.
And there’s also no denying that I tried to resist it all last week. I even went vegan.
Our favorite restaurants
often share one thing in common. We go
there without ever having to look at the menu.
We know the moment we walk in the door what we are going to order. There’s the linguine with clam sauce at West Bank Cafe (407 W.
42nd St., New York, NY 10036at Ninth AvenueTel: 212 695 6909). The
steak frites at Bistro Cassis (225 Columbus Ave, New York, NY, 10023 Tel: 212 579
3966). And at Joe Allen (326 West 46th St. New
York, NY Tel: 212 581 6464), we inevitably order the Chopped Steak. This delicious charred-on-the-outside,
rare-on-the-inside piece of great American beef is one of my favorite dishes on
earth. And it isn’t even on the menu.