Nick Morgenstern, the celebrated namesake and megamind behind Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, posted an article to Zagat recently (but not too recently) in which, among a few choice words for Mayor de Blasio, he painted a grim portrait for his future in New York.
“The big picture … is that we’ve got to get out of here, because New York City has become untenable for small business.”
The Zagat article isn’t dated, so I’m not sure at what exact point in the pandemic timeline Morgenstern was proclaiming doom; I was certainly expressing similar sentiments within the confines of my apartment around the time when the gyms were closed from March through August.
In either case, Morgenstern hasn’t yet thrown in the towel, and in fact, recently expanded his Lafayette Street location menu to include a new branded food experience — Morgenstern’s Burgers, Fries, & Pies.
Whereas Morgenstern’s ice cream tends towards the refined and experimental — Burnt Sage, Vietnamese Coffee, Raw Milk, Charred Banana and Olive Oil Chocolate Orange are all sold by the pint — his burgers and fries are downright nostalgic. Beholding my double-stacked Cheezy Sauce burger, with triple American cheese, mayonnaise and hot peppers, I was reminded in the best way possible of a Smoke Shack burger from Shake Shack.
The Cheezy Sauce patties were thick, like a backyard hand-pressed griddle-style burger, and somewhat crumbly; I ended up deconstructing fallen-off bits of beef onto the buttery bun, occasionally letting a ‘Flaming Hot’ shoestring french fry work into the mix.
The fries came stacked high and plentiful. I wouldn’t have minded a little more ‘flaming hot’ dusting, but in either case, these crispy and mildly spicy spuds were a perfect companion to ketchup.
I don’t fault Morgenstern for threatening to leave New York last year, and I don’t know the exact reasons he chose to stay. But sitting on his store’s shaded Lafayette Street patio, surrounded by laughing families and kids with mile-wide smiles, I could think of a few reasons why someone might never want to leave this city.
Go check out Morgenstern’s Burgers, Fries & Pies; the man who mastered ice cream is — evidently — not done delighting New Yorker taste buds.
Until next time.