Sunday, October 4, 2009
When I heard that Le Parker Meridien had a Burger Joint in New York City I quickly incorporated a stop there into my cross-country train trip. The trip I am still on at the moment. In fact, I'm currently on an Air Tran flight from San Francisco to Philadelphia. Isn't WiFi at 39,000 feet amazing? Having acquired a fairly decent palate for detecting exceptional Burgers, I was excited to try this Burger Joint, which resides in the lobby of one of the most expensive hotels in New York City.
There was of course a line of people waiting outside the restaurant and when I asked what the wait time was I was not happy with the answer. "45 minutes" the bustling young women at the front desk told me. I only had a three hour layover in New York and if I missed this train I wouldn't have a chance to catch another one until the next day. My plans were all set in stone, restaurant reservations made at The French Laundry, Bouchon and a wine tasting all set up at Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley. I couldn't be a day late or it would wreck my trip.
But when I have a chance to eat a great burger, I can't pass it up. I patiently waited in line for nearly an hour before I was let into the closet sized Burger Joint. Inside it looks like a restaurant you'd find in a college town. There's writing on every one of the walls from devoted patrons and cardboard with writing all over it hanging down from the counter indicating that they don't take any crap here. "Cash Only" is drawn in large letters on one sign and, "BE READY TO ORDER OR ELSE GO TO THE END OF THE LINE" on another. I was only in The Burger Joint for 30 seconds and already the scene from Seinfeld came to mind. You know, the famous Soup Nazi scene where George spends an entire episode trying to obtain a bowl of soup, only to keep screwing up and being told, "No soup for you!"
However, once I got to the counter it was a different story. I ordered my burger with "The Works" and wasn't told to leave, or to go to the back of the line. A few minutes later I was eating one of the best Burgers I've ever had on the East Coast. The Burger patty is thick and juicy, probably around 1/4 pound, maybe even a 1/2 pound. The buns are packaged like you'd buy in the grocery store, but they were fairly decent, soft and buttery. However, a Brioche Bun would have done much better things to my taste buds. The Onions, Tomato and Pickle were all very fresh and extremely good. As was the American Cheese. No Kraft used here. The Fries were equally good. They were completely peeled and golden delicious.
The Burger Joint has a great product. However, I don't think the wait is worth it, nor the price. An $8 Burger should taste like someone dropped a little bit of heaven on your palate. And this certainly didn't do that for me. I would go again if there was no wait, or I happened to be in that area. But I wouldn't go out of my way. Not when there are so many places to get a great Burger. My house for one.
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