I have been criticized, (by Mrs. P Chef primarily) in my initial posts of being very positive about my subject matter. The implication was that, perhaps, I might lack objectivity. I am not partisan, and am not compensated by any of the places I review so that prospect did not worry me. And today, I am vindicated. Read on for my first review of a stinker.
For those of you aware of the North Jersey burger rivalry between White Mana in Jersey City, and White Manna in Hackensack, you might wonder, as I did, why White Manna gets all the press. I ruminated that it might be that White Mana, the original, is further, by standard transport, from Manhattan and its Foodies, or that one building is cuter than the other. Now that I have visited both, I believe that the answer is simpler. White Manna, the more northerly contestant, has more going for it, than an extra “N.” Put another way, my visit to White Mana in Jersey City was a dud, flatter than their dry pancake of a burger.
Having left the packed White Manna ten minutes prior, I grew concerned as I arrived. To my eye, the neighborhood wasn’t great but I decided location wouldn’t keep this chef from the food. As I stepped in, I became worried. White Mana was empty, with nothing staged & sizzling on the grill and the glass showcase window was caked with grime. Grime on surfaces is often a bad sign. If they aren’t cleaning what you can see, what about what you can’t see?
Quite a bit bigger than White Manna and with similar parking, the Sardine Factor should have favored the Jersey City Mana. I ordered the default comparison item, “cheese burger” and watched in horror as a pre-packaged grey patty was flopped down. As compared to White Manna in Hackensack, I was served quickly and without a memory test for who was where in line. That was a plus. A negative was how bland the burger tasted. I admit that I considered only eating half of the little burger, but remembered that I would not be eating again until Washington D.C. Putting all the pickles on the cheese burger, salvaged the remaining bites by raising the slider to a semi-palatable taste, something like a McDonald’s burger, but without mega processed tastes.
In exploring the rivalry, I learned what the locals, who pack one and avoid the other, already know. White Mana is a dud and White Manna is a stud. I give White Mana with one “n” a grade of “N” for “No Good”.
Two Post-Scripts: As I was leaving I discovered the only reason to visit White Mana besides weighing in on the debate: the Men’s Room*. It’s low and dingy, and reminds me of a Halloween funhouse bathroom with its off kilter floor and single low watt bulb. I closed the door and braced reflexively for a Boogey Man to jump out and literally scare the you know what out of me. After a morning traveling for the Smart Kitchen, I didn’t need the help. Since I couldn’t wait, I ignored the warning voice in my head and ventured from the light into the darkest recesses where I imagined the commode might be. All I could think about was that in the movies, the dummy gets it when he/she pokes around in the dark corner. In the shadows, I found the sneaky seat-less, naked commode. To another visitor, with other business, it could have been a pants wetting monster. Good thing my visit was a coffee break.
A second post-script. To the owners of White Mana in Jersey City, a suggestion, if you don’t have the passion or interest to make great sliders, sell out to the Hackensack folks, make better burgers for everyone and end the “N”-sanity of which place is which.
Finally, look for our write up of White Manna, our choice in the battle, nearby on the blog.
*Sorry ladies that the restroom is not a gender neutral observation. If you happen to visit after the bad reviews and have to see the horror of the commode, have a male companion knock and hold the door for you and peak.