The Best Burger The beef patty on a bun is America's contribution to world cuisine. Our food critic takes a cross-country -- and artery-clogging -- journey to find burger perfection. By RAYMOND SOKOLOV Patties of ground beef weighing from 1 ounce to 15 pounds, often not seasoned and cooked until gray, then served as a sandwich, usually between two halves of a compressible, flavorless untoasted bun, are this nation's leading contribution to world cuisine. In their fast-food form, burgers provide quantitative evidence for the charge, more widespread than ever, that Americans are a bunch of insensitive louts. But all across the country there are places, almost all of them locally owned operations, that cook and sell my idea of a first-rate burger. And I've been on a hunt to find the best of them. After braving aortic clogging in several dozen of the nation's most highly touted burger joints and burger temples, I found burger perfection -- in the form of a simple bacon-topped double patty dusted with cayenne -- in the heart of a big city, but along the way tasted everything from fast-food's big names to haute-cuisine burgers with foie gras. After a certain amount of time spent wallowing in burgers, you inevitably begin to see complexity where most people just see a simple dish. But a fellow who is about to announce his choice for the WGB (World's Greatest Burger) should have an aesthetic, a set of standards that guide his judgments in burger court. What's your favorite place?