The Vanderbilt House is all about legacy. Built in 1860 by the railroad-building Vanderbilt family, it was used as a hotel for workers who were laying down the tracks in Columbia County. The 150-year-old home in Philmont is a recently refurbished restaurant; one of its menu staples is the Buster Burger — aptly named for owner Bob Mansfield’s father, Buster, who was born in room 12 and grew up in the former hotel.
Chef George Madrid’s hand-cut steak fries tossed with Parmesan cheese and parsley are a perfect complement to his specialty Buster burger
Served in the tavern, the Buster ($11) is a 10-ounce patty hand-formed with 90 percent lean, free-range, grain-finished, Hereford beef. Chef George Madrid seasons the burger with salt and pepper prior to placing it on the grill, where it gets a good char before being finished off in the oven. A fresh Kaiser roll, swabbed with butter and grilled, houses the meat. The burger is then topped with raclette (a semisoft cow’s milk cheese) made at Hawthorne Valley Farm in nearby Harlemville; and cilanto-scented, homemade guacamole. The plate comes to the table with lettuce, tomato, Madrid’s hand-cut steak fries (seasoned with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley), and a dollop of Asian coleslaw (napa cabbage, carrots, and snow peas dressed with mayonnaise, sesame oil, and fresh ginger), which adds an updated, fusion-style twist to the classic dish. “Diners rave about the quality of the meat and how perfectly it is cooked,” says Marcy Groll, the tavern’s barkeep.
So, if it’s true that the more things change, the more they stay the same, then Buster himself most likely would be quite proud of the legendary burger served at his childhood home.