Less than a week to go! Great Burger Battle hits Shorefront Park this Sunday and The Mill Roadhouse in Westhampton Beach is busy perfecting their strategy. The spot is known for serving up simple but delicious burgers topped with bacon, eggs and real-deal cheddar, bleu and gruyere cheese—no cheese products at this rustic joint—to starving East Enders. As they prepared to go Island-wide at this summer’s ultimate BBQ, I stopped in to talk beef, burgers and bacon with co-owners Amanda and Karl Macdonald and Chef Andrew Hartmann.
What are you most looking forward to at the Great Burger Battle?
Chef Andrew Hartmann: As far as we’re concerned it’s about reaching new people. Especially because it’s out in Patchogue, it’s an audience we haven’t really hit yet. We want to show people that we are doing things out here and that Westhampton is a great culinary destination.
So what makes your burger better than any of the competitors?
AH: That’s a funny question because people always try and compare us to other places. I just try to do the best for what we are. If that means us constantly evolving and getting better I guess that is something we are going to do. We have only been open for a year, and we have come so far from day one. I’m just really excited to be in it. Take or leave it, of course I would like to win, but I am not going to be upset if we lose.
Where do you get your beef from?
AH: We get our meat from a local butcher right here in town. It’s called Justin’s Chop Shop and they grind all their own meat and we get it fresh every day. On the way here, I just ordered 15 pounds and I’ll go pick it up in an hour and you know it’s fresh. Even if you cook it well-done it’s still juicy, so it’s a great product.
How popular are your burgers compared to the rest of the menu?
AH: With all the new people coming out for the summer probably half of the food we sell every night ends up being burgers.
That’s a lot of beef. What would you say are some of your most popular burger toppings?
Amanda Macdonald: Cheddar, bacon and egg. That’s my personal favorite and my favorite to recommend. It’s basically bacon, egg and cheese with nine ounces of our prime meat. It’s fantastic! The caramelized onions are a big hit. Andrew makes his own homemade pickles here and brines them on his own.
Karl Macdonald: I always, always put bacon on my burger. You bite into it and it’s got a little bit of crisp but is still chewy, not crunchy…a lot of places overcook the bacon.
Andrew, are you the one who comes up with the burger menu or do all three of you work on the menu together?
AH: We are trying to be more than just a burger place, but I try to keep it simple. We don’t want to be a burger bar, a place where you have all these toppings to pick from. We have the basic bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheddar, blue cheese and gruyere.
AM: Less is more sometimes.
AH: I don’t think you need to have 10 burgers on the menu. I think you can just have one, and put what you want on it.
KM: And that is the better concept. We want to let people think for themselves and choose what they want to put on it. Our menu lends you the ability to have the burger prepared just the way you want it. Making people think is a good thing no matter what and that is the idea behind anything craft.