After a few years of mild apathy and the nudging of a foreign visitor, I finally made it to Burger Joint, the "not very secret semi-secret dive-y burger joint tucked behind a curtain in the lobby of Le Parker Meridian."
My earliest memory of Burger Joint is hearing about it from one of my classmates, Joe Campanale, during a discussion in our food communications class in spring of 2005. Face aglow with the memories of burger perfection, he enthusiastically referred to it as "beef heaven." And then gave more words of praise that I can't remember because this happened four years ago and I can only recollect conversations that happened in the past 30 minutes. Although I was intrigued by his outpouring of Burger Joint love, for some reason I never cared enough to actually go there.
...Until England-based Edd of He-Eats contacted me to say he was visiting New York City in May and we should grab a burger at Burger Joint. This was the poke I needed to get my burger blogging butt to Midtown and cross another famous New York City burger off my "to eat" list.
Luckily, we didn't wait in a horrendously long line that Saturday morning. It was out the door, but not far past its outer curtains. From what I've heard, it's pretty much always crowded.
Burger Joint isn't fun to visit just because it's unexpectedly stuck inside a hotel lobby, but because its ambiance is a stark contrast from its stylish surroundings. It goes for an old-school look with random movie posters on the walls and wood-paneled booths.
It's probably a good thing you have to wait a while—it gives you time to formulate your order. Not that there's anything complicated about their menu: hamburger or cheeseburger, level of doneness, toppings. They also have fries and milkshakes, although the cashier told me that the milkshakes were only available on the first rainy Friday after the moon enters the "waning gibbous" phase, and...well, it was Saturday, so, sadly, no milkshake for me. (Actually, I think she said they're only available on Fridays, but I wanted a way to artificially insert "waning gibbous" into my blog.)
I went with a medium rare cheeseburger with lettuce and pickles. Quite a pretty thing with its thick meat puck and gooey cheese strand sandwiched between basic poofy burger buns.
Although it certainly didn't taste bad, my feelings about this burger are the same as Edd's: not as good as Shake Shack. He compares it to Shake Shack because (I think) it was the only other burger he ate during his trip; I compare it to Shake Shack because it's my favorite burger in the city (besides that it's a similar style). It just wasn't as flavorful or deliciously fat-drippy. I'd say it's worth eating for the experience, but I'm not compelled to go back. If Shake Shack existed in 2005, Joe might have reviewed Burger Joint differently.
Fries were tasty and of the McDonald's-esque variety.
And the nonexistent milkshake I did not drink tasted like nothing.
After leaving Burger Joint, I navigated Edd to the nearby Bouchon Bakery (my meager purchase was a chocolate chip cookie to save for later since I was still stuffed from the burger) before finding out that he didn't have any other plans for the day. O RLY? Based on those few hours of contact IRL (as opposed to exchanging emails and blog comments), I knew it'd be enjoyable to hang out for a few/many hours more...
So I invited him to come to Brighton Beach and hang out with my friends and me. More on that in my next post. (Do you see what I did here? I made a fairly short post! But the next one will be longer. Oh joy.)
Burger Joint (inside the lobby of Le Parker Meridian)
118 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019