Saturday, 6 October 2012

Guest Post - Prime 16 - New Haven, USA by Brendan Walsh

Picture taken from

The main reason for Liz's first blog's success was the fact that we were travelling around Asia during the time that she was writing. We had so many amazing and unique food experiences that she was never short of interesting writing material. With this blog, we are keen to carry on in a similar vein, but we are restrained by the fact that we are now permanently based back in the UK. To get around this, we have approached the friends we made during our 2 years living in South Korea and asked them to share with us some of their favourite foodie moments. Located in America, South Africa, Mexico, Dubai and many more to add, by sharing their experiences through our blog we hope to show some really interesting posts from around the world.

The first is from a great friend of ours, Brendan Walsh. We met Brendan in Korea and instantly found that the 3 of us shared a great passion for food. We were really happy to hear that he would write a guest post for Food All Ways. Brendan has a great way with words and I hope you enjoy his contribution as much as we did.

News from America: Hi, I’m Your US Northeast Meat Correspondent

I’ve made quite a few mistakes in my life.  Details are unnecessary and erroneous (for the purposes of this blog) in regards to the less-than-fantastic alcohol-fueled mistakes, but the most obvious offense would be my year spent as a vegetarian.  Yes, for most of my 22nd year I abstained from delicious, life-granting meat for what seem, in hindsight, like foolish reasons.  Needless to say, I lost a great deal of muscle, alienated myself from amazing food options while in America, and wound up breaking down and getting face deep in piles of dead animal flesh upon moving to Korea.  But I digress…

In an attempt to rectify my lost year of proper animal protein (AKA The Year of Endless Sadness), I am eating as much steak, burgers, pork belly, fried chicken, lamb, barbecue brisket, and pulled pork as I can.  Since returning to America from Korea last August, my meat pursuit (which sounds way too much like a porno film) has not waned, but intensified.  I’m living in the Northeast (New Haven, Connecticut, to be precise, home of Yale University) right between Boston and New York, so my location is prime when it comes to eating like a sultan.  I thought I would start off with a review of two delicious burgers I had at one ridiculously good and unassuming restaurant in downtown New Haven: Prime 16 (note how I used the word prime one sentence earlier; it was to prime you for what was to come).

New Haven claims to be the Birthplace of the Hamburger Sandwich (also a specific type of thin-crust pizza called New Haven Style, but I get to that in another post).  This is a dubious claim that I don’t really buy into, but it keeps people coming to Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, which consistently grants itself the honor of First Hamburger.  I’ve had Louis’ old timey burger; it’s awesome, but it’s not the best by any means.  For five bucks it’s worth a try, but Louis’ Lunch doesn’t compare to Prime 16 (so why am I comparing them? I’ll stop). 

I went to Prime, a restaurant and tap house (lots of beer on tap), with my lovely mother on a quiet afternoon while she was in town visiting.  I started with an imperial pumpkin beer by Long Trail Brewing Company, which was awesome; pumpkin flavors, booze, and candied malts way up front, with an ABV of 8%.  Since I was starving myself in anticipation of eating and drinking too much (a national pastime), I decided to order the fried pickles with chipotle mayo as an appetizer.  If you’ve never had fried pickles, you are sincerely missing out.  At Prime the pickle spears are breaded and deep fried, leaving the inside warm, juicy, briny, and pickle-y, while the outside was crispy and hot, fresh from the fryer.  The chipotle mayo was tangy and a bit spicy.  A perfect app, for sure.  I had five.  Try a fried pickle sometime.

For our burgers (both served on a soft brioche bun which held together for most of the meal), my mom got the New York Steakhouse burger, which is 8-10 ounces of beef seasoned with cracked black pepper, topped with wilted spinach, bleu cheese, and tobacco fried onions.  It replicates the steakhouse experience quite incredibly, with all the typical accoutrements of steakhouse dinner acting as toppings for the burger.  The thing was incredible.  Cooked perfectly medium-rare with a mound of fried onions rising 3 inches off of the burger (think super thin, extra crispy onion strings, nothing like onion rings), it blended all the elements, pungent bleu cheese, slightly bitter wilted spinach, and the crispy onion treats, into a seamless bite of deliciousness.  I ordered the Smoker burger, the same awesome Grade A certified Angus beef, topped with smoked gouda, smoked applewood bacon, lettuce,  tomato, sautéed onions, with a garlic aioli.  It was phenomenal, obviously; you read the description too.  The individual elements of my burger stood out more than in the New York Steakhouse, but since those elements all rocked, I can’t complain.  Bacon and smoked gouda with garlic aioli could be a sandwich all on its own (Tom and Liz, maybe make that?), so to have those stacked on wonderful ground beef is a decadent treat. 

Oh yeah, and we both got perfectly crispy sweet potato fries with our burgers, because if you don’t order sweet potato fries you’re probably a communist. 
Prime 16 was awarded the 2012 New Haven Advocate Reader’s Award for best burger in New Haven.  I have to agree based on what I’ve tried so far.  The New York Steakhouse burger, though not something I would usually order (there’s a disheartening lack of bacon) was among the best burgers of my memory.  It was an homage to all that sexy meat.  The Smoker is another excellent option for those in need of smoky cheese and bacon.  There are a dozen more options on the menu, several of which would have been suitable and potentially superior, like the Latino Burger, the Cowboy Burger, and the Honey Truffle burger.  It’s about as American as one can get for a reasonable price, sexyass burgers and awesome beer in a dim bar.  If you ever find yourself passing through New Haven on a touristy trip to Yale, or traveling from Boston to New York, it wouldn’t hurt to tank up at Prime 16.

Please have a look at their website - to look at their menu and especially at their gallery.

If you are interested in going to Korea to be an ESL teacher then I highly recommend checking out Brendan's blog at

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