Friday, 12 March 2010

The All American Burger

No trip to New York would not be complete without sampling some good burgers. So after reading a few blogs and online guides to a few places, the choices were made.
The first was the Burger Joint @ Le Parker Meridien. It seemed strange at first, for a 5 star hotel to have a burger bar as one of its restaurants. But Americans do take their burgers very seriously it seems. They even have Burger Awards.
It’s situated down a dimly lit corridor behind the reception. It is one hell of a dirty little secret, but a great one. The entrance is hidden behind some heavy curtains, it’s only the illuminated burger sign that gives the game away. As you enter you’d believe it had been there for decades. Those interior designers have done a good job of creating that lived in greasy look.

The walls are covered in writing, made by patrons I believe. As there is a sign from the owners saying “ We Don’t Spit On Your Food, So Don’t Write On Our Walls”. Apt I thought. A few movie posters are scattered around as well. Some of the films I still haven’t watched. Shame. The vinyl booths add to the effect. All in all it looks great.

The food matches the surroundings. No, not greasy, beat up burgers, but well made, tasty, yummy ones. You could actually taste the meat. A rarity in meat these days, as producers seem to farm the taste out of beef these days. But these burgers had a good beefy taste. They were on the small side. But I guess from a nation that was brought up on fast food burgers (not going to name those chains), then these were the perfect size. The fries were fries really. But the chocolate milkshake was how milkshakes should be. Thick, chocolaty and great to drink.
It was pretty cheap (more expensive than a chain, I imagine), but the experience matched the food. Excellent.

The other joint we visited was the Shake Shack, which is situated outside in Madison Square Park. A good call in the summer, a bad one in the winter. Very bad. Thank the Lord for those outdoor ozone layer destroying heaters.
As with the Burger Joint, the burgers here were small but packed with flavour. Freshly cooked little patties of heaven. They are so good, they even won the fore mentioned Burger Award back in 2005.
The fries were pretty good, although the cheesy fries had a little too much cheese sauce. But all in all pretty damn good.

I’m sure on a spring or summer afternoon then this place would be packed but with the cold weather there were only a few die hards braving those icy winds.
We in England, well apart from those people who frequent those burger chains for their slice of America pie, would not pay £5 for a small burger even if it tastes of heaven. The good burgers I have found in London have been monsters and costing upwards of £10, as we don’t regard these small rounds of meat in quite the same way as the Americans do. For them it’s a  everyday lunch snack, something to keep them on the move in the same way we consume sandwiches.
To be honest I prefer the burgers I had stateside than the majority of the sandwiches I’ve had London side. But everything beats the hot dogs. 

Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien on Urbanspoon
Shake Shack (Madison Square Park) on Urbanspoon

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