Friday, April 07, 2006

CHEESEBURGER IN RED

The Burger Joint, at Le Parker Meridien on 57th between 6th and 7th Avenues:

I said "I'M gonna WRITE ABOUT IT!"

And I said "YOU'RE gonna READ ABOUT IT!"

And I'm a PROMISE-KEEPER!

So here is my review of its burgers, its ambiance, and my dining companion, Chris.

Mealtime was set for 2:30pm. It WAS our first meal together, but Chris and I coordinated the meet-up like First Class Dum-Dums. He was waiting for me at the 56th Street entrance, while I was waiting for him ON LINE AT THE ACTUAL RESTAURANT. We did NOT exchange cell phone numbers. IDIOTS!! By 2:43pm I got anxious and exasperated, so I left my place in line and eventually found him. Once inside the line was very short and we waited only five minutes to place our orders, which were:

Megan: A Cheeseburger cooked Medium with The Works and a Diet Coke (I know, WTF?! A DIET COKE?! Well, I FELT LIKE IT!). "The Works" includes lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mustard, mayo, and ketchup. Total cost: $8.25. They asked my name and told me they'd call it when my order was ready.

Chris: A Cheeseburger cooked Medium with The Works, a regular Fries, and a Coke (I know, WTF?! A COKE?! GUYS NEVER WORRY ABOUT CALORIES!). Total cost: I don't know. I was looking for seating when Chris paid.

Though it lives inside a relatively fancy hotel, The Burger Joint is anything but fancy. It's a small space: probably about 500 square feet. There are two sets of five booths opposing each other, some high stools and a communal table next to the grill, and then two-top tables and chairs against the back wall. Decor is unpretentious and non-descript, mostly framed magazine and newspaper reviews. Cozy. Comfortable. What'd you'd expect from a place called The Burger Joint.

I found us a two-top and told Chris that I would be helping myself to his fries, though I had refused to order any for myself. He was in full compliance with this declaration. Which was a smart move on his part, because A) I like to get my way and B) I would have had to resort to thievery had he said no.

My burger was ready first and did it look GLORIOUS. Wrapped simply in opaque white paper, this juicy little package was squat and adorable. Really: it was a CUTE burger! The bun was of the cheap, soft variety, which I find to be perfect for soaking up meat grease. I appreciated the use of red onion over white, because it meant that I could return to work without poisoning my co-workers' faces everytime I opened my mouth. I decided to postpone biting into it until Chris' burger was ready, even though he said it'd be perfectly fine for me to start. I think he was lying. And I was raised right.

His order was up soon after mine, and his burger was identical. His fries? Thin, crisp, and GLORIOUS! You could SEE their fat turn the bottom of their brown paper bag translucent. Which, for me, is an awesome sign of french fry goodness. I availed myself of them IMMEDIATELY. Chris did not bat an eyelash. Impressive. They were damn good.

Then it was time to dig into the Main Event, and our Main Events were pretty much DELICIOUS. My one quibble was that I thought my meat might have been overcooked. It didn't POP with juiciness as I had expected, but it was still terribly good-tasting in my mouth. And is there a better flavor complement to good meat than melted cheese, crisp pickles and raw onions? Probably not. Or at least: not many.

As we ate our Main Events, Chris and I got to know each other. I was clearly way more self-conscious than Chris was, as I kept punctuating our silences with -- and I am not kidding -- "What else?!" I even asked this narcissistic question at one point: "Is there anything you want to know about me? Because I will tell you!" Being much cooler than I, Chris sort of shook his head no. Smooth. Chris was a delightful conversationalist, except when he took large bites of burger and/or fries into his mouth. Then, he would stop talking and proceed to chew until all the food was ready to enter his esophagus and, ultimately, his stomach. These periods should have been natural pauses in our conversation, but, again, I was a little self-conscious and used that "quiet time" to badger Chris with questions. Deeply personal questions, like "How's your job?" and "What are your hours?" and "Where does initiative come from?" After chewing for what seemed like HOURS, Chris politely answered. He also said, "I am a slow eater." It was nice to see him be so self-aware.

Everything was going great until Chris De Burgh's "Lady In Red" started playing in the background. I kept trying to ignore it but I couldn't. I interrupted Chris and confessed that "Lady In Red was my FAVORITE song when I was twelve. I thought that one day I would grow up and be the Lady In Red, or at least someone's Lady In Red and right now I am freaking out a little because this song is on." Chris laughed at me and said he was picturing me at twelve years old in a red dress and smearing adult lipstick on my mouth. I told him that was not an inaccurate picture.

I pretty much couldn't concentrate on anything else while "Lady In Red" was playing. I decided to channel the romantic feelings that the song was stirring inside of me towards my very lovable cheeseburger. So here is how the song would go if I was in love with my cheeseburger. Which I was, a little bit:

I've never seen you looking so lovely as you did to(day)
I've never seen you shine so bright
I've never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance (inside their tummies)
They're looking for a little romance, given half a chance
I have never seen that (bun) you're wearing
Or the highlights in your (meat) that catch your (grease) I have been blind
The (cheeseburger) in red is dancing (in) me (meat) to (meat)
There's nobody here, it's just you and me, It's where I wanna be
But I hardly know this (cheeseburger) by my side
I'll never for get, the way you look to(day)

I've never seen you looking so gorgeous as you did to(day)
I've never seen you (taste) so bright you were amazing
I've never seen so many people want to be there by your side
And when you (were in me) and (digesting), It took my breath away
I have never had such a feeling
Such a feeling of complete and utter love, as I do to(day)

The way you (taste) to(day)
I never will forget, the way you taste to(day)
The (cheeseburger) in red
The (cheeseburger) in red
The (cheeseburger) in red
My (cheeseburger) in red (I love you.)


I'm not sure if Burger Joint's cheeseburger is The Most Delicious I have ever eaten, but it is the The Most Nostalgia-Inducing. And that's worth SOMETHING!

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once, long ago, I was falsely accused of being intoxicated for singing the praises to an avacodo before I sliced it up to partake in it's glorious flesh.

At last; someone who understands me!

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you lovingly describe it, singing cheeseburgers; dancing french fries; yodeling onions.....it's an amazing pastiche. While we welcome back the appetite, the represented collage means something. Delicious.

1:18 PM  
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anonymous wants you.

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