Should Burger & Barrel Be Looking Over Its Shoulder at Black Tap, SoHo’s Newest Burger?
Ten blocks can mean different worlds in New York City, with plenty of room for like concepts to flourish. Still, for a burger luncheonette to open within that distance of Burger & Barrel, the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s reigning burger champs (he's won five times in six years), its owners have to be confident that they have a quality concept and a product that can fill a neighborhood niche. Co-owner Chris Barish and his chef-partner Joe Isidori, the men behind Black Tap, SoHo’s newest burger joint, think they have just that: honest burgers made with good ingredients in a modern, clean interpretation of what they’re describing as a casual luncheonette.
Black Tap (just blocks from the Spring Street C and E and Canal’s 1 train station) is Barish and Isidori’s take on the all-American burger. They serve seven different burgers on toasted buns with huge pickle spears, thick-cut fries, and a steak knife.
Isidori got his start with Michael Schwartz, at Nemo (closed) in Miami Beach, then cut his teeth with none other than Donald Trump (his website notes that he was the Donald’s personal chef). Isidori then earned a Michelin star while he was executive chef of Trump’s Las Vegas Trump Hotel flagship, DJT (that’s Donald John Trump Sr. to you).
Aside from Black Tap’s classic all-American (lettuce, tomato, pickles, American cheese, and special sauce), the Greg Norman (Wagyu, house buttermilk-dill sauce, blue cheese, and arugula), and chef Isidori’s favorite, the steak au poivre (a prime steak burger with blue cheese and green peppercorn sauce), there are burgers made with chorizo, turkey, lamb, and (for vegetarians, presumably) falafel.
Sides include truffled peas and carrots with feta and lemon, sesame-tahini Brussels sprouts, beets, teriyaki broccoli, and sautéed kale, four different salads, and all the fried buttermilk onion rings and hand-cut fries you could possibly want. Top your fries with the requisite special sauce, truffle aioli, chipotle mayo, or extra fancy sauce.
The drink menu includes milkshakes made using ingredients from Battenkill Valley Creamery (flavors: coffee, black cherry, caramel, U-Bet, vanilla, strawberry, and Oreo), American craft beers, and Mexican sodas — Coke, Sprite, and Fanta (strawberry, pineapple, orange, and grape). And there’s a homemade devil’s food cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate sauce.
Hear more about Black Tap, how it happened, and who its purveyors are in our interview with chef Isidori.
The Daily Meal: In a nutshell, what is the concept?
Joe Isidori: The concept of Black Tap is centered on offering a great American burger and beer while also catering to the more health-conscious consumer.
Are there specific purveyors of specialty produce that you're serving that you'd like to highlight your relationship with?
If you were forced to name one dish that people need to come check out at the restaurant, what would that be?
The steak au poivre burger with blue cheese and peppercorn sauce or the Spicy Mexican, a fiery chorizo burger with Monterey Jack cheese and pickled jalapeños.
Why are you passionate about this particular food?
People ask me, “How did you come up with this?” I always say, "It’s a simple answer: These are all the things I like. I like to eat a great old-school burger, I like to drink beer, and I like to listen to classic and indie rock.” So that is my business model.
Is there a bar program at Black Tap? If so, what is it all about?
Forty beers are on offer, including 16 on draft, pulled from an eponymous black tap system, in addition to a selection of craft can beers, classic favorites such as Miller High Life and Genesee Cream Ale, and Mexican beers like Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo.
What do you want to be known for? What experience are you looking to create for your patrons?
Serving up traditional and innovative takes on the all-American burger while providing market vegetables and fresh salads for those desiring a healthy alternative. The experience: Guests will find a laid-back, casual vibe reminiscent of a classic American luncheonette with a distinctly SoHo feel.Forced to name one dish that people need to come check out at Black Tap, chef Joe Isidori singles out the steak au poivre burger with blue cheese and peppercorn sauce or the Spicy Mexican, a fiery chorizo burger with Monterey Jack cheese and pickled jalapeños.
Do you have an idea in your head of what kind of star-rated restaurant this will be? What star rating are you going for, if any?
Stars? I didn’t open this to earn stars. I opened this to serve great burgers.
Who designed your decor? What were you going for with the space, and were there any particularly trying obstacles in the process?
I did. I designed the establishment in keeping with the style and trends of Broome Street, working with a local tradesman to evoke a neighborhood feel that is both cozy and edgy. Even the original ceiling is intact. Regarding obstacles: not really. It has been a great experience.