High-end chefs want New Yorkers and eaters everywhere to know that fast-casual food can be delicious, humanely-sourced and good for you - all at the same time.
David Chang's fried chicken sandwich shop Fuku opened last week to long lines, heaps of praise and breathless tweets and instagrams. Brooks Headley's Superiority Burger opened last night to much of the same.
And Headley left his job as pastry chef at Del Posto, one of the most highly-rated and loved restaurants in the city, to open the tiny Superiority Burger in the old Dirt Candy space in the East Village. Yes, he left Mario Batali's temple to classical Italian food to make veggie burgers and veggie sloppy joe sandwiches.
So what's happening here? We think a couple trends are at work.
#1: People want to know what they are eating. Both Fuku by sourcing local, humanely-raised chicken and S.B. by only making vegetarian food, are heeding this.
#2: People want high-quality food, in a convenient and easy setting.
Superiority Burger has no meat on the menu at all- only veggie burgers that Headley has been perfecting for years, a sloppy joe sandwich, a "hippy wrap" (like a burrito) and some side dishes. The Eater restaurant critics all loved the burgers. They hardly missed the meat.
Fuku and S.B. are similar in that you order from a short menu at the counter and then find a seat to eat. Bare bones. Nothing fancy. Just good food.
Of course, Shake Shack started selling Pat LaFrieda burgers in a fast-casual setting a decade ago. Perhaps the success of Danny Meyer's empire has inspired Chang and Headley?
That sounds about right. And Chang has said he wants Fuku to become a national and perhaps international chain.
Hey, if people are eating better food, we have nothing to complain about.