Monday, November 3, 2008

New York Night

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out with my friend, Tishon, looking through the Norwegian newspapers online, when I came across an article, "Verdens Beste Burger Finnes i New York" or "The World's Best Burger is in New York" directly translated. It was an article about Jean Luc Naret, the director of the famous Michelin guide, a company which is not just known for tires and big squishy marshmellow men, but also for awarding stars to the best restaurants in the world. He knows his stuff, in other words. The article goes over some of the things that are special about him, like that he can't cook, he eats out 365 days a year, he never eats on planes and that, yes, he does eat junkfood from time to time and finally names a place called "Burger Joint" in New York as the best burger in the world.

"The best burger in the world?" I said excitedly and told Tishon what the article said.

"I've eaten there!" he said, "It's the kind of place you need to know about to find. We should go."

And go we did.

I'm on a strict budget these days since I STILL don't have a job. I earmarked $15 at the beginning of the week, though, so we could hit up this burger place. I was mildly excited to say the least.

Another friend of mine, Alex, came along, and we got there before Tishon. It was at a hotel, a pretty fancy one at that, Le Parker Meridien (119 W. 56th St., New York, NY 10019 near 6th ave). Alex and I went inside, and tried to find the burger place, but ended up just sort of wandering around the lobby for a little while, feeling pretty out of place.

I happened to look down a little hallway, though, and there in the dark was a glowing burger sign and an arrow.

"There it is," I said, as if we had found the holy grail.

We walked over and peeked inside. It was like another world. Gone were the fancy consierges and leather couches from the lobby. Here were guys in white T-shirts flipping burgers and darkly lit booths. It was jam-packed.

Tishon showed up (saying "I was a man on a mission walking in here, everyone else was struggling to find it, I knew where I was going.") just as we managed to take over a booth from a few people who were leaving. Burgers were 7 bucks including the works, and besides soda, beer (Sam Adams!), french fries, and brownies, it was pretty much all they had on their menu.

We each got a burger and sat down to stuff ourselves.

It was awesome. Really truly. It looks messy and it WAS messy, but it was pretty darn amazing and tasty.

Was it the best burger in the world? That's really very difficult to say. I'd say it's right up there in the top three of burgers I've tasted, including the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, and Sesamburger in Trondheim, Norway. (My friend Zac cooks up a mean burger too, by the way, which should go on my top 3 list, although now it's top 4) There are a lot of burgers I haven't tasted in this world. Maybe the same goes for Mr. Naret? However, even though he's french, I'm sure eating out 365 days a year would ultimately mean he's tried a few more than me. I wonder if he's tried the one in Trondheim, or my friend Zac's, though?

It was such a good start to the night that it couldn't end there. Tishon, who's lived in NYC for seven years, said we should go to a place called Fat Cat. We hopped on a subway down to the West Village.

This place was just as awesome, just as New York as the Burger Joint. It has live jazz every night and about 15 pool and ping pong tables. They have cheap beer, scrabble, chess, checkers, go, othello... Looking around, the only thing that was missing was the heavy smoke you would associate with places like these. (Although truthfully, I'm happy there wasn't any).

Burgers, cheap beer, live jazz, and ping pong. It doesn't get any more New York than that.

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