In the past couple of years, the Upper West Side has welcomed two new kosher burger places—Amsterdam Burger at 92nd Street and Gotham Burger, just three blocks north—but now the big boys have arrived: Joey Allaham and David Kolotkin of the Prime Hospitality Group, best known for their Prime Grill steakhouse in Midtown.
“A burger place is something we’ve been interested in for a while,” Kolotkin said recently, sitting in the new restaurant. “We wanted to create something that was more approachable for our audience. We have high-end kosher restaurants, but we wanted something for everyone, something where the prices weren’t too high, but where you could still get great food.”
They decided to convert the lower level of their steakhouse, Prime KO, just off Broadway at 85th Street, into Prime Burger, a sports bar and burger place. TVs were put up. Prime KO’s dark wood tables and floors were kept. Its chef, Makoto Kameyama, runs both kitchens; the menu blends Kolotkin’s American culinary background and Kameyama’s Japanese one.
There are, naturally, lots of burger options The Bulldog Burger, a favorite of Kolotkin’s, comes topped with a fried egg, beef bacon and non-dairy ranch dressing; that’s the American part of the menu. Kameyama’s favorite is the Teriyaki Burger. Like its competitors, Prime also offers hot dogs and an array of sauces and sides. What sets the burgers apart from the other guys, Kolotkin says, is that they’re all made with certified Angus beef, something other kosher restaurants don’t have. “People know Prime as the top in the industry,” Kolotkin said. “When they come to our places, they know they’re going to get a really high quality of kosher food that will be really good and won’t taste haimish. Here won’t be any different.”
The other night, a dozen girls celebrating a birthday were seated at one table. Some of them wanted to know about the sautéed kale salad, others were asking about the different sauces on the menu.
Nearby were some couples and a trio of young men, all wearing button-down shirts tucked into dark dress slacks and kippahs. They were sitting at their table side by side, their eyes glued to the Rangers game showing on the large flat screen TV mounted to the pillar across from them. “Do you have any starters?” they asked the waiter after being seated. “We’re going to be here a while.”
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Related: Elevating Kosher Food: An Interview with Joey Allaham
Yaron Weitzman is regular contributor to Bleacher Report and senior writer for SLAM magazine. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker, New York, and The Ringer. His Twitter feed is @YaronWeitzman.