Burger originals in Tel Aviv

Hamburg and Moses unveil their unique burgers.

HAMBURG (photo credit: SHACHAR TAL)
(photo credit: SHACHAR TAL)
There is no mistaking the emphasis the small chain Hamburg places on the hamburger. The restaurant’s giant sign overlooking the Tel Aviv boardwalk proclaims (in English) right under the name: “Birthplace of the hamburger – 1885.” That is why it came as a bit of a surprise to see, as opposed to most other burger outlets, a complete and balanced menu, like you would find in many beachfront eateries.
Hamburg boasts a full bar and will mix a variety of classic cocktails. The wine list is very limited, but there is a more than adequate selection of domestic and imported beers. In fact, it is the only place I have seen in Israel with taps that dispense beer right on the table.
The food menu comprises four sections: Burgers (NIS 47-65); First Courses (NIS 29-49); Main Courses, listed under the heading Grill (NIS 59-139); Salads (NIS 49-56); and Side Dishes (NIS 14-27). Three of the five categories contain vegetarian/vegan options.
Among the first courses, our waitress recommended the onion loaf, which she described as “oily, but good.” What emerged from the kitchen was the largest onion loaf either of us had ever beheld, anywhere. And it turns out the waitress was only half right: Thankfully, it was more crispy than oily, and as promised, most definitely good.
This was followed by a surprise first course: merguez sausages on a bed of tomatoes and onions. The piquant sausages contrasted nicely with the refreshing salad, making this dish we had never thought of ordering a real sleeper.
By the time we finished the entrées, our burgers arrived, starting with the signature Hamburg, consisting of equal parts of ground beef, veal and lamb. Served with a drizzle of spicy ketchup, this was a robust and savory combination worthy of being the restaurant’s centerpiece.
Our second burger was the entrecôte, made from prime steak. Thick, juicy and succulent, this was a premium burger that genuinely reflected its origins.
There are 13 optional toppings for the burgers (called Extras), ranging from the usual suspects to deluxe offerings of fancy cheeses and smoked meats. In addition, there are the traditional side dishes – French fries, home fries, etc. – and Heinz condiments (BBQ sauce, mayonnaise spread, ketchup) in abundance.
Finally, each one of the six desserts (NIS 35-52) listed on the separate menu is large and decadent. Our two choices were the mascarpone kadaif and the Belgian waffle. The former was basically an ultra-sweet whipped cream version of mascarpone, with a few threads of insubstantial crunchy kadaif; the latter, meanwhile, was exactly what the ideal Belgian waffle à la mode should be: chewy and delicious, topped with two scoops of quality ice cream and drenched with rich chocolate sauce.
Moses reprises the ArtBurger
The Moses hamburger chain introduced its ArtBurger some 15 years ago, and just this summer decided it was time to relaunch it, with some fresh updates. The chef chosen for the job raised a few eyebrows among food journalists: Yuval Ben Neriah, the creative genius behind Taizu, considered the best pan-Asian restaurant in Tel Aviv, as well as Ya-Pan and Miazaki, two Japanese eateries. For some reason, Moses chose a specialist in Far Eastern cuisine to redesign the quintessential Western food.
As it turns out, it was an inspired choice. YBN (as the chef is sometimes known) came up with not one but three ArtBurgers,
which will be served in Moses restaurants over the course of the next three months:
• The Avang-Art: a cheddar cheeseburger in a light and airy bun, served on a plate meant to evoke a canvas, with dabs of six colorful “paint” condiments: black mascarpone; green spinach and garlic cream; brown smoked Indian barbecue sauce; white Japanese mayo; yellow Dijon mustard; and red ketchup. Some of these combinations defy description; they have to be tasted to be believed. This burger is being served in Moses outlets until September 9.
• The Ur-bun: Two “smashed” grilled beef patties topped with cheddar cheese, purple onion rings, veggies and a secret sauce, in a specially devised bun. This outstanding burger is being served in Moses outlets from September 9 through October 10.
• Inspired by Naturalism: Largely the same as the Ur-bun, but served in a lettuce wrap. This is YBN’s homage to Thai lettuce cups – and actually my favorite of the three new ArtBurgers. This burger is being served in Moses outlets from October 14 through November 17.
The ArtBurger (NIS 79) is available in the restaurants only (not for take-away or delivery). It is also available (NIS 81) at the sole Moses kosher branch in Petah Tikva.
Not kosher.
Herbert Samuel 76, Tel Aviv Boardwalk
Ph: 1-700-507-073
Not kosher.
Rothschild Blvd. 35, Tel Aviv.
Ph: 03-566-4949
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.