The chowhounds have let me down. After reading several posts here praising Big Nick's, I went there tonight to try it. It wasn't any better than something you'd get at a neighborhood barbeque. They had several exotic toppings, but the meat itself was extremely unexciting. It seemed a bit dry. I haven't eaten at Paul's (2nd Ave., near St. Mark's Place) for several months, but that place has never let me down. Everyone I take there immediately falls in love. The burgers are moist, fresh, fall apart in your mouth... amazing. And they have several kinds of delicious fried potato products. I feel like I need to go there soon to atone for my Big Nick's disappointment. I think Paul's is good because it has escaped the Zagat radar. Big Nick's, on the other hand, seemed as touristy as Carnegie (and the food was just as bland, though I must confess I love Carnegie's pricey cheesecake). As a student of psychology, I am intrigued by the mysterious "Zagat effect" (by which awful restaurants become extremely hyped up and popular)... and saddened that it has found it's way onto chowhound.com! Please, think twice before touting a place listed in Zagat. Now, does anyone who has tried Paul's know of a place with better burgers?
Just a warning: you're probably going to start hearing from me more often. This school year I've decided to go restaurant hunting every weekend. My goal is always to find the best food for the lowest price--and I'm extremely picky.
One more thing: I read the article about chowhounds in the New Yorker with relish (no pun intended). I was particularly intrigued by the Leff-Sietsema dichotomy--something I'd already begun to notice in my own chowhound excursions. I tend to have exotic tastes like Sietsema, but like Leff, I value "deliciousness" above all else. If my meal isn't orgasmic, it's not worth my money--especially on my tight student budget. I do have to thank Sietsema for his Top 100 "Cheap Chow Now" list; it has led me to several treasures. I do disagree with number two ('Ino, which is okay, but not orgasmic), but many others have been great (particularly Pan Pan and Teresa's... and I'll overlook the fact that Teresa's is in Zagat!). Okay, enough writing. It's almost 5 a.m., but my Big Nick's experience got me all worked up. I'd better get some sleep.