A sprawling, mirror-facaded, multi-room, giant-cake-display-just-like-they-do-in-the-suburbs diner, Court Square is that fortunate breed of New York diner that's actually open 24 hours a day, which is more than you can say for the delicious but lunch-only M. Wells Dinette nearby. The food is serviceable but the atmosphere is top-notch, a mixed crowd of Long Island City locals and art-going folk in tight jeans. Comfortable booths, a long counter, and more 1980s design than you know what to do with, Court Square sends a message: we are here to stay. Such has been the case since 1946.
You can get an eight-ounce burger there for as little as $5, but an off-menu order of a patty melt won't break the bank either at $8.25. The diner forms their own patties from fresh ground beef, and though the meat may be lacking in pedigree, it's not wanting for juiciness or fresh flavor. It's salted reasonably well and loosely packed, then grilled until it picks up noticeable char, if not a real crust. A request for rare beef was mostly honored.
As far as diner patties go, it's a solid one. Could it be beefier, saltier, or better grilled? Sure, but at these prices I have no complaints.
Though you should stick to the regular burgers, not the patty melts. Poorly toasted rye, lackluster grilled onions, and plastic Swiss did nothing but hinder the beef's simple, honest flavor. A more porous bun would give the patty's juices better places to run than on your plate, too.
With a burger this hefty you don't really need the "deluxe" option of thick-cut fries, which are forgettably limp and bland. But as with everything else at Court Square, they satisfy in that familiar way that only diners can: they suffice. And sometimes that's just good enough.