Friday, February 6, 2009

Burger Joint (a.k.a. Carnegie John's where are you?!)

Burger joint, with everything

Fridays kind of suck now, since my midtown lunches consist of me going to places insanely early (around 11:30) so I can rush back to Columbia to go to Chinese class. What happened to those glorious days of hour long lunch breaks *sigh*?

Anyway, with fellow foodie Wayne notably absent, taking... and failing his road test, I wanted to pick a lunch spot that was both, on the way back to school along the 1 line, and also cheap, light, and quick. Having agreed that we'd hit up Lazzara's to try the chicken parm, I decided to look uptown, along 6th or 7th avenue. Naturally... a challenger appears! haha, in the form of Carnegie John's. Having been massively pimped by both Midtownlunch and A Hamburger Today, I felt inclined... no... compelled to go get the "best cart burger in midtown." So I leave work around 11:00, a 20 minute walk to the corner of 56th and 7th, and I expect a grand cart with 'Carnegie' pasted all over it, but no, I see a hotdog cart with the mundane and stupid yellow and blue umbrella. Disappointed, I was prepared to return to Columbia empty handed. Wait a second... 57th... and 7th... is just one avenue away from, of course... Le Parker Meridian!

Now those of you who know me know that I love a good burger. I've tried a crapload of them too, from the incredibly boring hamburger at m2m to the monstrosity known as the 'judge' at Hamilton Deli (I'll eventually review these... don't worry). I am also not much of a burger snob, in the sense that I'll eat pretty much any beef patty between bread, but I do recognize quality when I taste it. That said, Burger Joint is one of the best burgers I've ever had in my life. Plain and simple is their menu, hamburger or cheeseburger, with the relishes listed for your picking. I paid homage to the vintage, and ordered up the cheeseburger with the works (lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayo), no fries for me... today was about the burger. So I paid the $7.50 for the burger, which is to be completely honest, sort of a ripoff and sat down. How can I call what I consider to be one of my top burgers a ripoff you might wonder? Well, it's not a large burger, halfway in between what shake shack delivers and maybe a big mac, I can't really say I was completely satisfied after eating it. However, what it lacks in bulk, it makes up for in... beef juices?

Cross section

Seriously, this is a top notch burger. Cooked on a griddle (to your specification of how well done), you can actually tell that it's made with ridiculously good beef, and not some frozen patty like a Burger King conception. Look at that patty, nice and pink in the center, medium rare as requested, I don't think the picture actually does justice to the quality of the taste. In fact, when I cut it open, I actually cried... not really, but I did feel guilty because I was losing so much juice in the process onto the paper it was wrapped in. How was the burger as a whole? Terrific, outstanding, sensual(?)... I can't give enough praise to this masterpiece, the lettuce was nice and crispy, tomatoes were surprisingly firm and resilient, and the mustard, oh how I wish I could buy a vat of the Burger Joint's special blend (Wayne can account for this, last time I tried to see if they had any in large bottles). The bread, while nothing special, also didn't interfere with the rest of the sandwich in the way that some brioches do. Man, I didn't even care that I didn't find Carnegie John's afterward, although I was still a hungry... should've gone with fries too.

Moral of story, do yourself a favor, don't skimp on luxury just because you have a burger craving, and go to Burger Joint. Uh, but plan on going early, since apparently if you go at normal lunching hours the line is absolutely ridiculous (think in terms of an hour or so). Oh, and I did find Carnegie John's in the end... I realized it was that stupid hotdog cart. Maybe if John was smarter, he'd advertise better.


Anonymous said...

Carnegie John's is not a stupid hotdog cart. You'd be surprised by the food it serves. The burger from the cart is quite good and large. For 4 bucks the price to value ratio beats burger joint hands down.The greek style chicken platter is excellent as well.

Nicholas said...

You clearly misread what I meant! I really wanted to go there... but didn't realize that the 'stupid hotdog cart' was INDEED Carnegie John's. Haha, I still have yet to go back to try it, but seeing a comment defending it like this makes me want to even more.

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