Big and juicy. Char-grilled and tasty.
You can be sure the burgers entered in the State Fair’s Best Burger Contest will be all that, and more. One of the nominated burgers is a creation of Turning Stone Resort & Casino chef Gerald Waterman, who devised the Black Jack Burger for the venue’s Emerald Grill. Fortuitously, this writer was running in the Turning Stone Resort and Casino half marathon on Sunday, Aug. 21, and in the interest of research I arranged for a postrace tasting. A quick email and telephone exchange with Turning Stone’s ace PR dude Jerry Reed, and he had arranged a special delivery of the burger. It is easily the most substantial post-race treat I’ve ever had. Tastier than a banana, too.
The Black Jack Burger starts with a half-pound all-steak burger seasoned with blackened spices, topped with pepperjack cheese, salsa kicked up (but in a pleasant way) with Thai sirachi sauce and sour cream, garnished with sliced scallions and served on a hard roll with lettuce and tomato and red onion slices; fries and a pickle come on the side. It costs $9.99. I ordered mine medium-rare, and it arrived, cooked perfectly, at the hands of sous chef Chuckie Loosman.
“This burger defines the resort,” said Loosman, who added that even though the dish is on hiatus from Emerald Grill’s menu, visitors can order it anyway. He added that he’s even pureed the entire dish for those who don’t chew so well; instead, they slurp it through a straw. “On Sept. 6, when our new menus come out, the Black Jack Burger will be back on it.”
Until then, it’s part of the New York Beef Industry Council’s competition to find the state’s best burger. Nominations were accepted from Feb. 1 to March 15, and the selected 10 restaurants will be at the Fair for the Sept. 4 taste-off. The Black Jack Burger is representing Region 3/Syracuse.
“We here at the casino are proud of this burger, and proud that we were even nominated,” Loosman noted. “It gives all the employees something to hang their hat on.”
Other than Turning Stone, the restaurants, and their winning burger, are:
Bistro Tallulah (angus burger) in Glens Falls, Dutch Ale House (bacon, egg and cheeseburger) in Saugerties, The Grill at the Dome (stuffed banana pepper burger) in Tonawanda, McGirk’s Irish Pub (Irish whiskey burger) in Binghamton, New World Bistro Bar (Northeast family farm burger) in Albany, Reese’s 1900 (1900 burger) on Long Island, South Trenton Pub (8 pointer burger) in Barneveld, Wally’s Pub (Wally burger) in Canandaigua, and Westchester Burgers (original burgers) in White Plains.
A panel of judges, including yours truly, will be tasting each of these burgers on Sunday, Sept. 4, starting at 12:30 p.m., on the Chevy Court stage. The winning burger’s chef will receive a plaque and prize package.
Visit syracusenewtimes.com for a late-breaking interview with Pat and Gina Neely.