My expectations were high as I entered the spectacular Le Parker Meridien hotel, one of Manhattan’s largest and most exclusive hotels, two blocks from Central Park, one from Carnegie Hall. But I wasn’t there for the five-star accommodations; I was there for the burgers.
Tucked away behind a curtain by an emergency exit was a regular-guy oasis in a desert of exclusivity: the famed Burger Joint, deemed by Men’s Fitness as the purveyor of the best burger in the country. The décor was modern dive, with 1970s rock and punk posters on the walls. The tables and booths were old, with worn wood. Neat effect, if a bit forced.
I walked in just as the BJ opened, a legion of patties sizzling on the grill, mobilizing themselves for the onslaught of burger pilgrims. I went traditional—cheeseburger (medium) with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. As the line grew out the door, so did my anticipation for what would surely be a slice of burger heaven.
Finally, it was before me. The build was good: burger, cheese (cheddar, I think), tomato, and lettuce. The mayo was spread thickly on the top bun. I took a bite, and…it was all right. The middle was correctly medium, yes, but the char on the outside led me to believe they cranked up the heat to pump ‘em out fast. That was enough to knock the overall effect to just decent. I don’t think I would go back unless I were staying at the hotel itself and needed a quick bite on my way out.
All told, it didn’t live up to the hype: 3 out of 5.