I can now vouch for another bacon cheeseburger in the world – the one at P.J. Clarke’s, to be specific. At 55th Street and 3rd Avenue, near the reputed former nexus of male prostitution immortalized in a Ramones song, P.J. Clarke’s is located in an ancient building that’s a somewhat of a throwback to those grittier times both inside and out. The bar itself is still dominated by men, so it’s no wonder every review of the place seems to mention the enormous urinals as a kind of tourist attraction – women, apparently, are not the primary customer base. Part and parcel with the male aesthetic and the Midtown office happy hour demographic, the number of suit jackets present outstripped even the “hippest” places in the L.E.S. or Williamsburg during last year’s blazer-craze. In that regard, I’m not sure Dee Dee would know what to make of it.
None of this mattered to me, though I was kind of mad that my seersucker coat is still at the cleaners. After all, I was there for the burger, and to meet one of my readers, Krissi. She also grew up in Salt Lake City, so we had much to catch up on – we agreed that the frozen custard and Mexican options in the city leave much to be desired when compared with their SLC counterparts, for instance. As she was there for a few years longer than me, she had some excellent suggestions, too – I’ve got some new things to try the next time I’m home, for sure.
Anyway, as to the burger at P.J. Clarke’s – very nearly as good as the Donovan’s masterpiece of two weeks ago. The burger ($9.70) was perfectly cooked to medium rare, very juicy without being raw, and with an appealing flavor (both the meat itself and with the bacon and cheese). Warning: the burger arrives without any sides, other than a slice of white onion and a half-sour quarter-pickle. You may want to complement the burger with the excellent French fries, but they are a little pricey at $3.50.
Krissi opted for the mini-burger trio ($13), which arrived with home fries on the side (a choice of French fries or the potato and sausage concoction known as bubble and squeak were also available). Though I didn’t try the mini-burgs until the end of the meal, when they were at a somewhat less-than-optimal temperature, I found the bun to be a bit dry, and the meat not as juicy as my larger version (to be fair, it’s tough to cook mini-burgers, and she ordered them medium rather than medium rare). Still, a fair choice for a somewhat lighter meal.
It ain’t exactly cheap (Guinness pint $6), and it ain’t exactly convenient if you’re not in Midtown already (though it’s close to the 53rd and 3rd E/V exit), but I’d definitely make the hike to P.J. Clarke’s for a bacon cheeseburger. Thanks to Krissi for giving me an excuse to indulge.