Lobby of Le Parker Meridien
118 W 57th St
New York, NY
I recently went on a quest to find the best burger in New York City. For the next week, you’ll have my breakdown of what I discovered. This is post #2 of 5 related to trying out some of the best that New York has to offer. The first review, Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack, is available here. Hope you enjoy the series.
There’s something about secrets that appeal to people. It’s nice “being in the know”. Having access to an experience others don’t. They are out there too. Secret restaurants, like Totoraku in LA, or many other secret supper clubs dotted around each metropolitan city, guarded tightly like the crown jewels of the foodie community.
Hidden in the corner of the lobby of Le Parker Meridien is a secret – not through lack of information, but by obscurity of location. The Burger Joint. Hidden behind floor to ceiling curtains is a small burger operation that is the complete oppose of the Meridien Hotel vibe. Dirty, small, with a great buzz.
Marked by a simple neon burger, these days it’s easy to find by the lineup.
Once you round the corner, you find a bustling community of people drinking draught beer (Sam Adams) and chowing down on burgers and fries. Tables are sticky and dirty, bussing your own tables usually ends up that way, and tables are had on a first come first serve basis. You better be aggressive – camp someone who looks like they are leaving, or be willing to push your way through when you see someone getting up. Being polite means you end up standing there for 30 minutes, holding your rapidly cooling burger, looking despondent.
Simple system. You order. Tell them your name. And pay. When they yell your name out, you pick up your food. The staff is pretty well trained at expediting orders, and they are pre-cooking a lot of burgers on the grill – i saw 30 – 40 burgers being seared off at a time. They didnt rest there for very long before they were slid into the assembly line.
The burger itself? Middle of the road. The grilled burger had decent char, but there was a lack of richness or standout flavour. It was juicy, with a decent fat content, but the whole eating experience was a complete mess. It was ground a bit too fine – making it lack any sort of substance or depth. The proportion of bun to everything else was slightly out of whack, making for an unbalanced experience, with condiments, sauce, and everything else flying in all directions.
Oh, and much like the Shake Shack, the fries were not very good.
Overall, I loved the energy and the vibe here – especially at 11pm. The LV handbaggers packed in with college students, high school students, beer swilling football fans, and Le Meridien guests made for an eclectic, diverse, and interesting crowd. Unfortunately, none of these things can make up for an average $7 burger. I’d go here again to take in the atmosphere, and have a quick bite to eat in Midtown, but I definitely would not go out of my way to eat here.
Next up: Peter Luger Steakhouse