Harry’s Daughter is my default neighborhood bar. I love Harry’s. I’d say a good deal of my IG stories are either Harry’s praise, Riverview Wines praise, or bashing Gringos. With that said, if O’Leary’s was 10 ft closer to my front door than Harry’s was I’d be at O’Leary’s every day. O’Leary’s is on the corner of Garfield and Caven Point, in a section of Bergen-Lafayette that feels more like a bombed out Yugoslavic industrial center than a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. It’s in the same category of good, unpretentious neighborhood bars that New Park Tavern and McGinley Square Pub fall into, but with greater emphasis on what is coming out of the kitchen.
When starting this burger thing, I got a lot of buzz about O”Leary’s whacky specialty burgers, not their standard. I recommend giving their IG a follow to see their daily specials, which feel like they’ve been commissioned by Caligula himself. To be honest, I never had a regular burger from this place until I had this one. I usually get the patty melt, which is god tier, and recommend trying that before you do anything else here. If I had my way I would review that, give it a 5/5 and delete the IG app from my phone. But I went for the classic burger instead.
Patty type. Single patty. 80/20 chuck blend. Above average thickness, but not a gargantuan. This thing tastes excellent. The first bite is a total punch in the mouth, mouth-watering, nostalgic burger taste.
Is it cooked well? Medium rare came out half well done, half medium. Great crust though.
Is it seasoned? Deliciously salty. I brush my teeth with brackish, so might be a little extra for your average bear. I find it incredibly tasty.
Does the size or amount make sense? Definitely. This is pretty close to ideal. The burger is appropriately wide and thick, which means theres a slight overhang from the circumference of the bun, which is a good thing. This means every bite is filled with meat, bread, and toppings.
Bun type. A very good, unassuming, non-threatening white bread bun. The size is what really comes in the clutch here. Its wider than your average bagged bun, and is light and airy and doesn’t get in the way.
Does it work? Mostly. I never go for white bread. There’s just so many other good things out there that you shouldn’t have to settle. I’d still say that a better bun would make this better as a whole, but I’m not mad at it. It does leave something to be desired for moisture absorption and slippage though. More on that in a bit.
Toasted or untoasted? Toasted. It also retains its fluff from the toasting without becoming brittle. It doesn’t suck up enough of the burger goo though.
Is it dry? A little. I wouldn’t want a turkey club on this thing. A burger works though.
Cheese type. Yellow American. God’s cheese.
Is the cheese melted? Yes.
What type of shit are they putting on it? It comes naked, but I opted for the basic lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, and mayo.
How much shit are they putting on it? Almost the right amount. A little lettuce. A little tomato. A lot of ketchup. A fuck ton of onion. Enough mayo to threaten the cardiovascular health of an oceanic freediver. So. Much. Mayo.
Does all this shit add to the burger? Yes and no. This thing is an absolute fucking mess. It’s so sloppy that I went through an Infinite Jest sized stack of napkins while eating it. There’s so much slippage and so much goo that you begin to wonder if this is some type of puzzle room task that you need to solve in order to finish the burger. With that said…this is fucking delicious. Yeah, it’s a mess, but it tastes so goddamn good. Eat it, just bring some rubber gloves and a snorkel.
How do all of these things above work together? Amazing. For you average bar burger, this thing fucks. I definitely take back my statement that New Park Tavern is the best $8 burger in JC because this inexpensive gem is goddamn delicious. I knew their daily special concoctions were good, but really never thought to give the regular burger a chance until this burger thing. Goddamn will I eat this again.
I’m starting to think I just kind of like a little bit of a mess. Wurstbar’s burger, which is the highest ranking at the time of this, is really damn good, except it’s messy. This is really damn good and pretty fucking chaotic. I feel like the perfect burger takes all of the good aspects of the mess – the flavor, the moisture – and keeps it contained enough to not need a bib while eating. Points off for excessive slippage. If it’s not so damn messy we might be talking mid 4’s.
I created Nice Things because I want us to have nice things. So if you enjoyed what you read, share it with your friends.
You can follow me on Instagram @NiceThingsJC. If you’re interested in not relying on IG to tell you when I’m posting, sign up for the mailing list. Conversely, if you’re primary way of staying up to date on Nice Things is through the blog, I encourage you to subscribe to my IG, where I do reviews you may not find here (like Corto) or other funny content you won’t get solely on the blog.
If you’re interested in writing and have something to say, I want you to use this platform. Send a partially cogent email to NiceThingsJC@gmail.com with what you want to rant about. If you write something, I’ll give you a shirt.