BURGERS!!! - Part Three


Better Burger
burger joint at Le Parker Meridien
DuMont Burger

Sex and food. Long the domain of a few select products (strawberries, chocolate, oysters, and edible panties), hamburgers have begun to take on the task of turning us on. But can you really be turned on by a girl squeezing a big, hot piece of meat between her glisteningly moist lips?

I guess so. Mmmmmm, yummy. Yup, burgers are so sexy now, the Utah state legislature wants to label backyard grilling a "perverted art". Even McDonalds, long the family favorite choice for getting a burger, has gotten hotter.

You know what she wants. You know she wants it badly. You know she wants it now. Yeah baby. The only question that remains is: where does she want it?

587 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10036
(212) 629-6622

I hate Times Square. I loathe it. Why? Because I'm a New Yorker. You can always tell whether someone's a New Yorker by asking them what they think about Times Square (Herald Square, too). If they answer in any way other than "I wish it were cut off from the island and floated out to sea", then they're a tourist. Yeah, it looks cool at night. But that's really about all it has going for it.

Better Burger, at least the location I went to, mandated a crosstown trek through the aforementioned, shlock-ridden, filth-strewn tourist trap. But through it must I go. After all, Better Burger is considered, at least by the powers that be, to be one of the best burger joints in the city. A standard bearer, if you will, of burgerdom. Bro met me at the Starbucks on the corner and we went in.

Past the homeless person sleeping in the first booth we strode, and went to order. Better Burger gives off the air of a wide-body rail-car diner, the last real one of which left Manhattan recently on a flatbed truck for a museum in Pennsylvania. Hey, a high-rise luxocondo had to be built. We placed our identical orders and grabbed a booth on the opposite side as the homeless guy and waited. My burger and fries came damn fast. Bro's took way longer. Five minutes versus fifteen.

The burgers were really good. I won't beat them to death with praise, but I recommend them. Is that a whole wheat bun? Better Burger brags about how they're all natural and organic (soy American cheese, air baked French fries). And who doesn't like organic? But I'll be honest. I'd rather that they pump their beef full of steroids and curb their styrofoam cup use. One reason I don't get my coffee at Dunkin Donuts is because they have a styrofoam fetish. Another reason is because their coffee sucks.

The fries were damn good, too. Better Burgers has a small variety of ketchups. Regular, Cajun, and something Indianish. They don't give you many fries, so order two rounds. Should you be going with someone who doesn't really care for hamburgers (a freak), well there are plenty of non-burger options available, including a collection of salads.

Wait for food: 5 to 15 minutes.
Cost: Around $13.
Burger: A better burger might take some doing.
Fries: Air baked to perfection.
Atmosphere: Dinery. I feel really bad for the homeless guy who probably just wanted to get out of the rain, and his presence is more a statement about the need for more and better social services than the restaurant. This is not a political blog, but...
Verdict: Definitely one of the better burgers.

burger joint at LE PARKER MERIDIEN:
burger joint at LE PARKER MERIDIEN
118 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 245-5000

You just spent $400 for the night at the Le Parker Meridien Hotel and you're just about broke. You want cheap and good. What do you do? You head downstairs to the burger joint in the lobby.

You're in town on business and got through a day of meetings with people you smile at because you had to. You're tired of wearing a suit and want to relax. You want to feel cool and young again. You want to go back to that time when you didn't have to think about anything resembling a responsibility. You're tired of being the forty-something family man with the keys of yet another requisite and ubiquitous BMW sitting dead in your pocket. What do you do? You meet your business buds downstairs at the burger joint in the lobby.

You're a yuppie with a food blog that no one reads. You've been hearing people wax energetic about this incredible place for a hamburger hidden away behind a curtain in the lobby of a hotel in midtown. What do you do? You grab MLE and head to the burger joint in that lobby.

The line at the burger joint wasn't as long as I thought it would be. About 15 minutes. The real trick is getting a table. The seating here is tight. Really tight. My suggestion is to go with another person and while you order, send them on a recon mission to find a table. They should go armed and ready to pounce the minute someone starts wiping their mouth. It's kill or be killed out there. MLE was a pro, beating a Eurotrash couple that thought they could get the better of us.

The parts of the walls not covered by seemingly random movie posters or framed and signed glamour shots are heavily graffitied by celebrities’ comments on the awesomeness of the burgers here. Did you know that Andrew Dice Clay thinks the burgers here are the best? I mean, if that’s not a celebrity endorsement worth its weight in gold, I don’t know what is. Right? Anyone? Hello? Is this thing on?

The burgers, while good, were not the kind necessarily worth standing on line for. Better than fast food, for sure. They did have the messy habit of dripping scalding streams of grease down over my hand and down my arm. If you like the french fries from McDonalds, you'll love these. I swear they're the exact same thing. If you prefer something thicker-cut, you'll be disappointed.

Wait for food: 15 minutes for the table, plus 8 minutes for the food = 23 minutes.
Cost: About 1000 pennies.
Burgers: Worth every penny.
Fries: McDonalds is preparing an intellectual property theft lawsuit as we speak.
Atmosphere: Trading room floor.
Verdict: Slumming near style (...if not in or with).

314 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 384-6127

Williamsburg can be divided into two halves along Bedford Avenue. The side north of Grand Avenue, and the side south of it. The north side is a hipster heaven with restaurants and shops and streets filled with no one who looks like they work anywhere that isn't an art gallery or as a computer programmer. The south side is, poetically put, a dirty pit. DuMont Burger is on the south side.

DuMont Burger feels like a bar, and it is one. It's a fully stocked pub that just so happens to have some of the best bar food worth eating. A large mirror lines one wall, and raw, dark wood lines everything else. It's like someone visited the saloon of an abandoned mining town and brought that essence to Brooklyn. It's a cool, chill place. But there's a sexiness factor to it, too. You could meet friends here, bring a date without looking like a cheapskate, and eat alone without feeling awkward. DuMont has no tables, only narrow bars with ultra heavy iron stools to sit on. Don't invite your friends in wheelchairs.

Compared to other places, DuMont's not cheap. The burger's $10.50, the fries are $4.00, plus it's full service, so there's tip involved. It actually ended up costing more than BLT Burger. But fear not, oh cashless society, they take Visa and MasterCard.

DuMont Burger's signature namesake, the DuMont Burger, was excellent. The burgers were wrapped in a nicely toasted bun that was both crisp and soft at the same time without being burned. The bun wasn't the fast-foody kind you get at the supermarket, which, by the way, was the kind used at Le Parker Meridien.

These are some thick wads of meat, not small or thin patties that feel pre-made. There was just the right amount of char on my hamburger. Bro thought his had too much, but he ordered his medium well and I ordered mine medium rare and juicy (read bloody).

I don't remember much about the fries, but my notes say I liked them. I do recall that they came unsalted, something I didn't like but Bro did. The burgers come loaded with slices of pickle. Normally I like pickle. But these were not the crisp kosher kind. These were the sweet kind. Ugh. On the side was another pickle; a big wedge of spicy pickle. It was actually worse. The sodas we ordered came in those teeny glass bottles that practically force you to order two.

Wait for food: not long.
Cost: A hefty $22 each.
Burgers: Great, lose the pickle.
Fries: Good. Needs salt.
Atmosphere: Industrial chic.
Verdict: The sexiest.

Coming in Part Four:
Goodburger, Five Guys, and Zen Burger

Part One is here.
Part Two is here.

 Better Burger on Urbanspoon Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien on Urbanspoon DuMont Burger on Urbanspoon

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