Elevation Burger in Rye Brook, NY, Claims Higher Ground in the Westchester Burger Wars

You know all that stuff about building a better mousetrap? Well, that goes double in the world of restaurants. Just look at Starbucks, which took something to which Americans were already addicted (coffee), made it a tad better, added a Norah Jones soundtrack, and sold the crap out of it on a global scale. Or McDonald’s, whose big innovation back in San Bernardino was to eliminate time-consuming table service and expensive plates. Turns out that self-service and disposable paper goods were the key to billions served.

Cue Elevation Burger, now open in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center. Like Starbucks, it takes something to which Americans are already addicted (greasy fast food), but tweaks it in a small way to make it much more attractive. Elevation’s organic burgers are made from grass-fed beef, and the 85-percent-lean mix is ground in-house at each Elevation outlet from larger, whole cuts. According to Daniel Magnus, who holds the rights to develop Westchester and Fairfield County Elevation Burgers, this practice reduces the risk of burger-borne illness and is a justifiable bragging point. Magnus is planning to open a dozen Elevation Burgers across Westchester and Fairfield Counties–pitting his new fast-food phalanx against Five Guys, Shake Shack, Burgers, Shakes & FriesBGR, Westchester Burger Company, and Cheeburger Cheeburger. Of course, we’re not even mentioning all the McDonald’s, Burger Kings, et al, around. You have to wonder, how many burgers can two counties eat? Magnus is betting on a lot.

Elevation Burger: two organic, grass-fed beef patties and real cheddar (but salt and grease, too).

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To be fair, Elevation’s burgers are so tasty that they might actually prevail. They’re salty (in a good, Shake Shacky way), and hand-formed so that the outer edge of the patty gets caramelized and crisp, while the mounded up beef center retains some juice. The Elevation Burger offers double meat, double cheese, and is reasonably sized for a double burger—so you won’t need an ambulance and a stomach pump as soon as you leave. But countering science, advice, and tradition, Elevation’s fries are cut before your eyes, rinsed in water, and then deep-fried twice in olive oil. This is a loud slap in the face to all the scarred, grease-spattered Frenchmen who pioneered the basic frites technique, and, honestly, Elevation might have benefitted from their advice. Elevations fries are limp and waxy, but comforting if you’re worried about saturated fat; personally, if I’m splurging on the calories, I’ll hit a crisper version.

Elevation offers two types (!) of veggie burgers: One is vegan and based on all the weird grain and starch binders usually found in these things (it really wasn’t terrible); the other is bound with mozzarella cheese and tastes quite reasonable if you don’t compare the disc to beef. Amusingly, Elevation has a “Half The Guilt Burger” of one beef and one veggie patty. I imagine this for the fence-sitters that consider themselves vegetarian until they smell bacon.

Elevation’s fence-sitting “Half The Guilt Burger”—one veggie patty and one organic, grass-fed beef patty. WARNING: still karmically iffy.

Shakes are a great story here, and are duly worth the calories–we especially like the plain vanilla, blended with Blue Bunny Ice Cream. While Elevation offers no beer or wine (as do Shake Shack, BSF, and Westchester Burger Co), it does offer the usual soda taps, plus boutique bottled pop from New Jersey’s Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co.—the intense sarsaparilla was the one to beat, though the root beer was also a hit.

Okay, so here’s the burger breakdown: Elevation Burger is fast food for lululemon who were raised eating McDonald’s, but who have also read Fast Food Nation. But why not? If you’re going to feed your family fast food, you might as well do it at Elevation Burger.

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