In this solo dining adventure, Gary checks in on an old favorite of his – the burger at Corner Bistro.
It would hardly be a stretch to call the West Village’s Corner Bistro the epitome of a New York City pub. Its wooden floors having been trodden over by generations of NYU students and neighborhood leftists, the place absolutely screams old school neighborhood bar – a nice place for a beer but unremarkable otherwise. What has it in the collective esteem of many New Yorkers throughout the city is their burger.
I’ve had the burger many times, usually as the last stop on a night of unrepentant debauchery (okay, drinking). More importantly, the 2am check in at the Bistro was one last vain attempt to ward off the imminent hangover the following morning. Sure, the burger was always accompanied by a beer – after all, why kill the buzz if you don’t have to – but the broiled puck of meat was always a welcome treat. Indeed, it was, for quite some time, my favorite burger in New York City.
Many years and many Shake Shack burgers later, the Corner Bistro burger has long since relinquished the distinction of being my favorite burger. In fact, I hadn’t even been there since 2007 – an eternity when you consider I’ve been on a burger eating bonanza in the past three years, spanning the entire city and country. With a Friday afternoon free of anything pressing, I decided it was time to make my return to the Bistro.
Unsurprisingly, little has changed here. Perhaps the high-definition televisions strewn about the walls of the bar were put in since I last visited but that’s about it. Well, the prices of their beers have gone up a few quarters but it’s been three years so I’ll forgive them for the markup. There was even a wait, albeit a short one, for a table at 2pm. Once seated, ordering wasn’t difficult – a McSorley’s Dark, burger medium-rare, and a side of fries. Simple enough.
Only a few minutes after placing my order, my burger and fries were placed in front of me. Each come on their own disposable plate, the burger open faced in anticipation of any condiments I may want to put on it. It needs none – just add the pickle chips, lettuce, tomato, and onion on top of the burger, then cap it off with the bun and enjoy. Eight ounces of ground beef that’s seasoned just enough hardly needs ketchup. The bun, however, is a terrible choice to hold this massive amount of meat. It’s toasted but that’s hardly enough to absorb all the juices that come out from the burger (especially if you order it medium-rare or rare). By the time you finish it, your hands will be soaked with meat juices. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing but sometimes you want a bun that won’t turn into mush. Still, it’s a very good pub burger – no more, no less.
The fries, on the other hand, are terrible. It lacked the most basic of seasoning (salt) and were devoid of flavor. Thankfully, a salt shaker sits on the table so it can at least be salted. Honestly, you’re better off ordering a second burger if you need something on the side to eat.
Okay, perhaps I’m guilty of overly romanticizing my early to mid-20s in which the Corner Bistro burger was the best burger I’d ever had. It held true then but the years since has seen a burger renaissance in New York City that’s put this one in my own rear view mirror. Fond memories, however, don’t mean they’re not accurate ones and this burger is still as good as I remember it being. Don’t buy into the hype that this is the best burger or a great burger – you’ll leave here disappointed. Accept that this is a really good burger at a very good price in a very classic place to eat it. Go with that mindset and you’ll enjoy your meal here. Oh, and maybe you should just avoid the fries – beer makes for a very good side.
Or you can stumble in here drunk at 2am – just about everything is more awesome when you do that!