I ate here the other night, and it's like something out of a David Lynch movie. It's totally bizarre how this greasy spoon is hidden away in the lobby of the Le Parker Meridien.
By now everyone is in on the secret, but just in case you don't know how to find it, look for the front desk in the lobby, and to the right of it you will see thick, dark floor-to-ceiling curtains. As you walk past them you will see a small fluorescent hamburger on the wall with an arrow below it, which will lead you right to the place. The short journey is mysterious and cute -- the culinary equivalent of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The arrival is unnerving. Not only does it look like a teenager’s basement-turned-coffee shop, it feels like something out of the 1970’s. The fact that this is happening now -- and happening in an upscale hotel with a flagship restaurant that features a $1,000 caviar omelet -- is what I love about New York.
Amongst the wood paneling were a handful of older couples, families who were most likely staying at the hotel, young guys in suits probably just coming off work (it was 9:30pm, gotta love finance), some hipster-types....a nice, eclectic group. There was a fun vibe to the room, as if we were all happy to know about this place. (I'm not terribly cool - I got tipped off by a friend).
I took a seat in a vinyl booth while my friend placed our order: two cheeseburgers with “the works” (lettuce, pickles, onion, etc.), fries, and two Sam Adams. We sat and waited for them to call our order, which they did, with quite a lot of enthusiasm. The draft beers were in large plastic cups, deliciously cold and nicely priced at $4.50. The fries were pretty good, your standard crispy/greasy fast-food type fries with lots of yummy salt. Nothing outstanding but very tasty nonetheless.
Of course, the reason we came here was for the burgers, and man, did they deliver. Thick, juicy, nicely charred on the outside….the cheese was gooey and perfectly melted…the bun nice and soft….the lettuce crisp…this is the kind of burger that falls apart before you can finish eating it. Which to me, is the true mark of greatness.
I have no idea why this place even exists, particularly why it exists here, but I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to look forward to the next time I can get my greasy paws on one of these. In my (humble) opinion the Burger Joint is better than JG Melon, better than PJ Clarke’s, and just a touch below Corner Bistro.