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I have never eaten a beef hamburger at Fuddruckers, but I am a loyal fan of its naturally raised ostrich burger and its great salad bar. Fuddruckers opened its Paramus restaurant about 20 years ago, the pioneer among so-called better burger chains in North Jersey.
My wife and I had a terrific lunch there yesterday, but noted a few changes from our last visit.
The red-meat ostrich burger, which has much less fat than a beef burger, is one-third of a pound and comes from New Jersey-based Fossil Farms, which sells naturally raised meat from many animals -- alligators to yaks (Web site link is below).
Fuddruckers offers other alternatives to its hamburgers -- two kinds of farmed fish, chicken and buffalo, and you can sip wine or beer with your meal. One of its best features is the salad bar, which allows you to add freshly made salsa with cilantro and sliced jalapeno peppers to your burger, as I did along with ketchup and mustard. But you can no longer get a baked potato in place of the excellent skin-on fries, and you seem to be penalized if you order cole slaw with your burger, but not fries.
My wife ordered a half-pound beef burger for $5.49 and added cole slaw and fries for $2 more. I added only cole slaw to my ossi burger ($6.99) and it cost me $1.39 more. Fuddruckers says it beef hamburgers are made from fresh, prime beef, the highest USDA grade, which has the most fat of the three grades, and that the cattle were vegetarian-fed. This means they weren't fed animal by-products -- kitchen scraps and bits of dead animals.
The ostrich burger has so little fat, Fossil Farms recommends you order it medium rare, which I did yesterday, but I have also ordered it medium and it has always been moist and delicious. A quarter-bottle of merlot ($4.50) went well with the orstrich.
You can keep your Smashburgers, your Five Guys burgers, your Bobby Flay burgers -- all made from cattle raised conventionally. These places seem to spend more money on marketing than on ingredients, and gushing articles about them in The Record make them suspect. If I want a beef burger, I go to Tasteatery in Fort Lee for one of its wonderful, naturally raised, grass-fed patties, such as the West Coast burger with greens and hummus.
Fuddruckers, 282 Route 4 east, Paramus, 201-343-4533,
open seven days. Second restaurant on Route 23, Wayne.
Other Web sites:
From alligator to yak