I know it’s pizza month, but even the most dedicated of bloggers feel the need to include some variety here and there. Those warm for iconic, Jersey burger joints should be familiar with White Manna in Hackensack which, quite possibly, may have invented the modern slider. The place has been around for ages; its decor appears to pre-date the 1950’s actually. I was in the area recently and decided I was in the mood.
Ironically, White Manna is located directly across the street from a McDonald’s. But, in terms of quality, the two establishments could not be further apart. Approaching and entering White Manna is an experience. I opened the front door at about 12:30 p.m. and it was packed. I walked right into the last person in line – the place is tiny. I patiently waited my turn to give my order – “Three cheeseburgers, grilled onions please.” The woman takes my order, reaches into a metal chest, pulls out three balls of fresh ground meat, splatters them on the grill, and proceeds to whack the hell out of them with a metal spatula until they are flat.
One end of the grill represents the burgers which are almost ready to be served. The other end cooks the newbies. It’s a slightly confusing process; particularly at lunch, where dozens of hungry, drooling patrons would be more than happy to jump ahead of you and steal your order, but the woman working the grill seems to know the exact destination of each slider.
The time spent waiting for my burger gives me a chance to inspect the place: funny tiled floors, old time decorations, and hilarious orders (one high school kid ordered 12 burgers. From the looks of him, he was not sharing) pass the time. The woman at the grill is the diner equivalent of a Hibachi grill chef – using her metal spatula to flip, serve, organize, scrape, chop and whatever else she feels like. It’s like a poor man’s chef table. Good stuff.
After about 15 minutes, my burgers are ready to be served. I am seated at the right hand side of the semi circular bar/table, and the woman puts the burgers and onions, which are now sandwiched between a Martin’s potato roll , on a paper plate. The masterpiece comes along with a side of pickles. I never have to put my hand up or anything, she just knows those bad boys are mine. Side note on Martin’s potato rolls – for my money, these are the best hamburger buns in the galaxy. Fluffy, moist, substantial, yet not so much as to dwarf the presence of the burger – there is simply no better compliment to a burger in my mind; or a pulled pork sandwich; or a hot dog. You can see the “give” in the bun as I hold the slider. So tender and wonderful.
The final result is just fantastic. A hot mess of satisfaction. The meat is perfectly cooked (typically, they only cook it one way; Medium well-ish. I’ve yet to hear anyone have the audacity to ask for a “medium rare” slider at Manna), the onions provide a slightly strong complimentary taste, the cheese is melted just right – not overwhelming or bubbly – and the Martin’s rolls are solid as usual.
I devour the three sliders in record time. Manna is definitely one of the ultimate destinations if you are fixing for burgers. Affordibility is off the charts as well. A recession buster!
Overall Movie Equivalent – The Big Lebowksi