Okay, yes, everyone says “the best hamburger in NYC is…” and then chaos ensues. I’m not saying they are wrong. I’m just saying their tastes are different from mine. In the same way I’m not saying fans of the Khardashians who claim this clan is entertaining and talented are wrong, I’m just saying their tastes are different from mine. Or those who think OJ is innocent. Or…’nuff said.
The Le Parker Meridien (wait, that’s too many articles; mixing languages doesn’t change that) is a nice hotel. Perhaps even elegant. Particularly the baroque-ish lounge (see future review). So when you are standing facing the front desk in the high-ceilinged marble-floored lobby and look to your right, you are unsurprised to see a massive red velvet-ish (I promise that is the last time I will append ‘ish’ to a word in this post) curtain covering one wall and stanchions placed in front of it, you are not surprised. Must be covering some art installation, you think. That thought dissipates when you see the almost-constant line snaking out from the tiny gap between the front desk and the velveted wall.
Wait in line or skirt it politely to take a look, and you quickly (in the latter case) enter a small, dark, wood-paneled hideaway. Dark as in “old, left over from the war probably, and belonging in the Village or Vienna.” About the size of two (NYC) hotel rooms. There are three or four booths to your left, a handful of tables to your right then some more booths, and a stool-encircled stand-alone bar-ish (oops) structure near the counter where you order. And order is what you do. Raised, tiny, and populated in a manner befitting a clown car, The Burger Joint cookery is an open grill manned and womaned by experts. The opening at the counter is festooned with a hand-drawn/crayoned menu above your head, polite but CLEAR instructions on how to order, and a new sign that says ‘we now accept credit cards’ which leave visitors who generally speak all languages except English peering through the murky light to decide what they want before requesting it. Efficient and polite and fast are the workers. Order, stand around until it is ready, jockeying with others who try to appear as though not standing in line but not too far from the grasp of the prep person who will call their name and deliver the magic. Burgers, fries, shakes, a brownie I’ve never tried…mmmm, take me now.
I have two rules about The Burger Joint. First, always stop by if there is no line – that means should I come down from my room to go somewhere in the city, see it line-less, I get a burger, then should I realize I left something in my room and pop up and grab it before heading to my meeting, if there is again (note the ‘again’ rather than ‘still’ ) no line, my rule requires I get another burger. Second rule: try not to finish it in the elevator.