If you’ve paid the slightest bit of attention to the food scene in and around north Jersey, you couldn’t help but notice the many burger outposts that have popped up in the last couple of years. You’ve got everything from fast food establishments and upscale wine bars, to more family friendly venues vying for your burger business. And that last type brings us today to Burger Deluxe.
Set back on Rt 23 North in Wayne, Burger Deluxe has a “retro 60′s meets New Jersey Greek diner” vibe (and I mean that in only the best way). Owned by the Livanos Restaurant Group of New York, this is their first foray into New Jersey. Managed by longtime Livanos Group employee, Zeki Yesilyurt, Burger Deluxe provides not only a warm welcome to guests, but also the homemade baklava (which is not to be missed).
During a recent media event to kick off National Burger Month which is this month, Zeki and his friendly staff enticed us with quite a procession of delicious burgers. But Burger Deluxe is much more than burgers, as we quickly found out – beginning with their Beef Chili Nachos. Arriving in a skillet piled high with really fresh guacamole, these are not your average soggy nachos. Corn tortilla chips crisp enough to hold the beef chili with red kidney beans, pico de gallo, and Jack and Cheddar cheeses – quite satisfying.
We were also treated to a delicious Hummus Platter, served with grilled regular, whole-wheat pita, and crisp vegetables for dipping. This platter plus the wonderful Vegetable Burger would be a great combo for any vegetarians in your circle. The Veggie Burger is full of great stuff – onions, celery, lentils, whole-wheat breadcrumbs, mushrooms, barley, and oatmeal. I am a card carrying carnivore and I loved this burger. Vegetarians will also love it and it’s a nice alternative once in awhile for non-vegetarians.
Next on the burger hit parade, the French Onion Burger – the best way to describe this is a bowl of French onion soup on a bun. Don’t think onions piled on top of a burger. The onions are first sautéed in a beef base with white wine, which gives them a rich, beefy texture. Then the burger and onions are topped with Swiss cheese and Parmesan “crunch flakes.” Oui!
Two more burgers were on their way, but let’s focus for a minute on the classic sides that any respectable burger joint must offer. I’m talking fries and onion rings, of course. I sampled the Classic Fries, served simply with sea salt and other seasonings – very good. Burger Deluxe also offers Sweet Potato Fries, which I didn’t get to try (I had to pace myself somewhat). The Onion Rings really blew me away – house made, not at all greasy, with just the right ratio of onion to breading – outstanding! There are far too many plebian onion rings floating around the world, so when one comes along that is noteworthy, you’ve got to embrace it.
OK, back to burgers. Zeki sent out the Turkish Lamb Kofte Burger and the En Fuego Burger. The lamb burger is served with sumac-spiced red onions and a classic tzatziki sauce on the side. If you like lamb, this is for you.
And if you think you’re “hot stuff,” the En Fuego has your name on it. My lips are still tingling from it! In all fairness, the menu states up front that this is one spicy burger, but on a scale from 1-10, I would classify it at a 20! I would love to see where this falls on the Scoville scale. If you’re a heat seeker, go for it. Made with chipotle sauce, and topped with smoked bacon, pickled jalapenos, pepper Jack cheese, and habanera peppers, this is not for lightweights. Consider yourself warned!
And any burger emporium menu worth its salt must include shakes and floats and Burger Deluxe delivers. On the line up, four absolutely luscious shakes that would make any soda jerk proud. We started with the Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Shake (fresh strawberries with a rich, dark chocolate sauce swirling at the bottom of the glass); following closely behind was the Caramel Shake (house made caramel with coffee ice cream); next, the Brownie Milkshake (double fudge brownie blended with vanilla ice cream – oh yeah); and saving the best for last (IMHO), the Espresso Shake (coffee ice cream with a shot of espresso) – simply “deluxe!”
May I suggest the perfect dessert to end your Burger Deluxe meal? Zeki’s authentic baklava washed down with an Espresso Shake. He makes the baklava according to his mother’s recipe and it differs slightly from traditional Greek baklava as this version is loaded with walnuts rather than pistachios. The tender layers of phyllo are moistened with simple syrup instead of honey which eliminates that cloying sweetness that some baklava recipes fall prey to. Of course, that just means that you can eat more of these lovely little squares!
Pat LaFrieda Meats (purveyor of choice to star chefs) supplies the Angus chuck, sirloin, and brisket cuts to the restaurant so you know its top notch. With over 15 burgers to choose from, along with sandwiches, wraps, salads, and a menu that changes seasonally, Burger Deluxe is certainly a welcome addition to the Wayne area. But above all that, the Livanos’ long tradition of excellent service, good value, and commitment to high quality food, should make Burger Deluxe a tough contender to beat in the burgeoning burger wars.
Rt 23 North
Sunday-Thursday: 11am – 10pm
Friday-Saturday: 11am – 11pm
Terry Krongold is a life-long passionate baker. In addition to a full-time job in the pharmaceutical industry, Terry has been involved with food for many years, including co-ownership of a dessert catering company in the late eighties called I Love Cheesecake, specializing in fine cheesecake and unique desserts. Terry is the author of The Cook’s Tour, a blog focused on food, baking, and travel. When not working, writing, or baking, she spends time planning vacations around restaurants to visit. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.