Sunday, October 16, 2005

Best Self-Scooping

Here's a quite-unedited version of the article I wrote for this week's Commentator (Brigham Barnes Fun Fact: I'm now entering my second year working as the editor of the Arts & Entertainment section of the NYU Law School Newspaper.) about a new hamburger place that has opened in the school's neighborhood. This little article will be published on Wednesday, but now, thanks to the power of the internet, you can read what I wrote days before the NYU law school population:

The Burger Joint on Bleecker has Nothing to Do with the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian. (Duh).

About a year ago I “discovered” and “reviewed” the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian for the Commentator. At the end of the summer I noticed that a new hamburger establishment was opening on Bleecker between MacDougal and Sullivan called “The Burger Joint.” When I first saw it I thought that of course it couldn’t have anything to do with the Parker Meridian Burger Joint (why would a magnificent lowlife burger spot hidden inside the lobby of a luxury hotel choose to open an outpost on Bleecker street?) but still, it was called “The Burger Joint.” So, out of pressing curiosity, I finally visited this new local establishment last week.

I learned so much!

First off, it turns out that our new Burger Joint is an offshoot, not of the Parker Meridian Burger Joint, but of another “The Burger Joint” located at 3rd Avenue and 20th Street. The first thing that you’ll notice about the Burger Joint’s menu is that it is small: it offers hamburgers, cheeseburgers, doubles of either sandwich, onion rings, and French fries—oh, and the menu also indicates that pickles may be added to any sandwich for an additional twenty-five cents. The next thing you’ll notice about the menu is that the prices are low: hamburgers are just a buck, cheeseburgers a buck twenty-five. I was thrilled by these low prices for only a second before I realized that low prices could mean only one thing: little burgers.

Even as a mid-westerner known to engage in the occasional White Castle binge, I’ve never understood the draw of the little burger. Why settle for several little hamburgers when you could eat a single big delicious burger? Anyway, the Burger Joint burger does little to advance the argument for little burgers. Much like a White Castle slider, the Burger Joint burgers are square shaped and served with lots of cooked chopped onion. The meat is good enough and the onions fairly tasty, and somewhere between the onions or the meat there’s something peppery going on with the burger’s taste. But if I have any major gripe with the burgers (other gripes will follow) it’s that they’re served on yellow dinner rolls that are far too large for the little patties of meat found between their layers. By my last Burger Joint cheeseburger I was ripping off and discarding pieces of the roll to get at the meat hidden inside. On the whole, I’d say the burgers were quite marginal and didn’t leave me with much of a reason to plan to return to the restaurant any time soon (but, for what it’s worth, I’ll readily admit that the French fries were fairly good).

One thing that the Burger Joint had going for it, though, was that it’s soda fountain featured some selections you don’t usually get to choose from when visiting a McDonalds or Wendy’s, featuring, among others: RC Cola, IBC Rootbeer (you know, the rootbeer that’s usually only offered from a bottle), and chocolate soda. And, according to the internet, the Burger Joint offers free refills, but I didn’t notice anything indicating that fact inside the restaurant while I was there and the guy behind the counter certainly didn’t tell me there were refills.

Ugh, the guy behind the counter.

If I have any key complaint to make about the Burger Joint is that its “guy behind the counter” was one of the most unpleasant “guy behind the counter”s I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been eating cheap food all over New York for over two years straight now, I’m no stranger to unpleasant people behind counters. He treated my lunch companion as I as if we were an absolute burden to be dealing with, and that’s maybe not the best attitude to have when your establishment is next to empty at the height of the lunch hour. After taking my order and giving me my change he called me back to the counter and strongly informed me that I owed him another dollar because he had given me too much change. I gave him the dollar he asked for and then counted my change a few more times before I was certain that he was mistaken and owed me that extra dollar. When I informed him of the mistake he argued with me for a moment before giving me my dollar back. I don’t mean to use the Commentator as my forum to be all disgruntled about a small misunderstanding involving a single dollar, but I offer this bit of advice to restaurateurs: when you demand an extra dollar from your customers, you’d better be right; and if you’re wrong, you better be ready to acknowledge that mistake unless you’re willing to exchange an extra dollar now for a customer never returning later, especially if all you offer are tiny burgers on big rolls.

Will Steady Mobbin' ever feature photos again? I just don't know.

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