Restaurant Pounds & Ounces in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood has a reputation for being a trendy burger spot. So naturally, when I headed there for dinner, that’s exactly what I expected. And while the burger list did look beyond appetizing upon arrival, there is much more on the menu than just burgers.
Executive chef Jeff Kreisel has been at the restaurant for about a month and a half, and has taken the menu from solely burger-focused to something bigger and more compelling. While the burger options were great, he wanted to take the restaurant in another direction, so that it could be known for its small and large plates as well.
The starters, for example, are packed with options, including lobster corn dogs, deviled eggs with pickled jalapeños, fried mac and cheese balls, and tuna tartare tacos — each of which I tried. And while I would recommend all of them, I found myself stuck on the tuna tartare tacos, blown away by the mix of clean and fresh tuna taste with the addition of a small avocado guacamole flavor and crispy shell. I also found out that these were one of chef Kreisel’s interview dishes, which did so well as a special that they became an addition to the permanent menu.
The cocktail menu was even more compelling. Ingredients such as salt and pepper, rosemary, blueberries, and jalapeños were all worked into the drinks. I quickly fell in love with the Salted C’s, a combination of Beefeater, muddled cucumber, salt and pepper, and prosecco. The cool and salty drink without a bite or sweetness was clean enough to mix with multiple dishes and flavorful enough to drink alone. Cocktail crush number two, the Ro & Barb, mixed Cruzan rum, rhubarb liqueur, muddled rosemary, and citrus and pineapple juice. The first sip of this drink had me cringing that it might be too sweet, but once the cup hit the table an explosion of rosemary hit all corners of my mouth, leaving a refreshing and herby twist. The Blueberry Fashion is also worth trying, a mix of Weller bourbon, muddled blueberries, brown sugar, bitters, and ginger ale.
For main courses, I sampled the scallops and a burger, trying to get a feel for both aspects of the menu. The scallops, well browned on either side, were not only cooked through, but moist and full of flavor. They were nestled in eggplant caviar and topped with roasted tomatoes with sunchokes and vinegar, and the additions lent an optional boost in flavor that was definitely welcome, but completely optional to the scallops alone. Choosing the monster of all burgers, the F&Kn. Burger, I was amazed at the mixture of flavors and size of the $24 dish. The only burger that comes without sides (I recommend ordering the corn as a side separately — think corn on the cob that has been freshly cut off and mixed with thick and creamy butter), this 8-ounce angus beef patty came with onion marmalade and fontina on a brioche roll, and was topped with pineapple braised short ribs and pickled green tomato chips. The huge dish definitely requires a fork and knife, and can keep a burger lover one for life. My only comment? More pickled green tomato chips, please!
On my list to try for round two at Pounds & Ounces: chicken wings, asparagus fries, more tuna tartare tacos, chicken liver pâté, the "Double (the) Cheeseburger," the Scottish salmon burger, swordfish skewers, seared halibut, artichoke risotto, duck-fried rice…. OK, maybe trips two and three.