Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we’ll check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.
This week I decided to tackle the upstairs lounge at Tête-à-Tête Café. Located at the intersection of Sheepshead Bay Road, East 14th Street and Avenue Z, Tête-à-Tête’s first floor offers standard coffee bar creations. Much like a local Starbucks, you’ll find your neighbors slurping down the java and munching on the usual assortments of pastries. But, upstairs in the cafe, you’ll find the real action: a full bar and a full menu featuring gourmet meals, salads, soups, paninis, burgers and desserts.
On our last visit, I enjoyed the 8 ounce stuffed sirloin burger. The stuffed burger comes in two varieties, one stuffed with bacon and cheddar cheese, the other stuffed with portobello mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. I chose the portobello burger.
Never had a stuffed burger? Well, you’re missing something. It has many advantages over the traditional burger, on which the fillings are served as toppings. By placing the spices and seasonings inside, they are protected from burning in the high heat. Secondly, many soft cheeses, like Gorgonzola, have a great flavor that pair well with burgers but tend to be too runny when melted on top. Finally, the juices. Salt breaks down cell walls of the meat and allows the juices to exit the cell more easily; letting this process happen on the inside of the burger – where the juices remain trapped – guarantees a juicier burger.
The Stuffed Sirloin Burger arrived on a sesame seed roll, topped with tomato, lettuce and red onion accompanied by seasoned curly fries. It was nicely cooked to a medium well, my personal preference, with just a trace of pink (burgers are cooked to order). This was easily one of the juiciest burgers I’ve ever had in a restaurant. I expected a layer of cheese and a layer of mushrooms in the center of the burger, but the cheese and mushroom pieces were mixed into the ground sirloin which provided an even taste of cheese, meat and mushroom in every bite. The flavors were expertly blended, with no one ingredient dominating.
So, next time you’re craving something a little unusual, but still familiar, check out the Stuffed Sirloin Burger at Tête-à-Tête for $8.95.
Tête-à-Tête Café, 2601 East 14th Street, (718) 676-0783.