Burgers approved by Paris Hilton?

Seemingly everyone and their mother has eaten at the Burger Joint, that quasi-secret enclave of fast food inside the Meridien hotel on 57th St.  You can now add my girlfriend and I; we checked off the 85th entry on Sietsema’s list last night.  I get the feeling that the place is some kind of sick joke, actually.  The hotel lobby at the Meridien looks like a Hungarian bathhouse, for god’s sake, not a place to stuff a griddle and deep fryer.

Nevertheless, following that neon burger sign will lead you into a place that looks as much as possible like a windowless frat house basement.  Out-of-date movie posters?  Check.  Beer tap?  Check, though it’s a frat-boy-grown-up beer (Sam Adams) that’s served here in lieu of “beast light” or “the golden bullet.”  “Borrowed” furniture?  It sure looks like some hotel chairs got drafted to augment the standard seating, much like we used to “borrow” tables from Buildings and Grounds to play Beirut.  Graffiti-covered walls and pictures of famous blondes?  Check – the caveat here is that the picture is of Paris Hilton signing her name to the celeb-signature space on the back wall.  We’re still in midtown Manhattan, folks.

Regardless of surroundings, the true test of the Burger Joint (strangely unrelated to the chain of mini-burger places with the same name) is the feed.  How would it stack up to my last burger and fries, which I chronicled here just before Christmas?

Well, I think Burger Joint is good, but I’m puzzled as to the cult that worships at its wood-paneled altar.  The best thing about it may well have been the speed with which the burgers, fries, and shake were delivered – not a minute or two after my girlfriend ordered (I had staked out the table), her name was called, and we were happily devouring our cheeseburgers ($6.50 each) moments after.

Mid-wolf, I stopped and noted the visually-appealing construction of the burger – red tomato, green lettuce, purple (red) onions sliced thin, and green pickles shared space with orange cheese and a burger which could have been pinker (medium rare seemed more medium-well).  I was surprised, not having seen the menu, to note the presence of mustard with the usual mayo and ketchup combo – always a pleasant flavor, but too rarely encountered in the burger world.  (Then again, I don’t exactly go adding it when it’s not there.  Clearly I have no point.)

The fries ($3), which arrived in a paper bag big enough for a tall boy at a bodega, were good, but not on the level of the Goodburger fries of several months ago, despite possibly being from the same potato cut (I read that on chowhound, I think).  They just lacked that extra flavor ‘oomph’ that used to put McDonalds’ fries over the top – was it the cooking in beef fat?  I’d have to ask the Goodburger folks how they replicated it, but one more obvious problem was that the Burger Joint fries weren’t as salty as they might have been.

The $3 milkshake (yes, I went for the coronary trifecta) was on the thin side, which I think is perfect for this context.  Thick milkshakes are great, but they start to feel like more of a dessert and less burger-complementary when you can’t suck them with a straw.  Burger Joint’s version is relatively small, though – same size cup as the soda ($1.50).

I enjoyed my meal at Burger Joint but I don’t think it’s a destination – it’s slightly too expensive and slightly less delicious than several more-convenient (to me) alternatives.  I did enjoy the food, though, and I also appreciated the effort the proprietors have put forth in re-creating my college memories – if only our dirty basement had somehow been attached to the home of the President of the College.

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2 Comments

Filed under NYC

2 responses to “Burgers approved by Paris Hilton?

  1. Anonymous

    I think the true selling point is the lack of competition in that area of town…although Prime Burger is only about a 5 minute walk away on 51st. There, the prices are about 2 bucks cheaper, but the ambience is sort of creepy and you are forced to sit in chairs that will remind you of primary school desks. I kind of enjoyed the Animal House-chic pseudo diveiness at BJ.

  2. Both Prime Burger and Burger Joint suck. They are owned by same families that own Jackson’s Hole. They skimp on ingredients and it shows. Best Burger in town is JG MELON

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