I wanted so much to like The Burger Joint, on Third Avenue at 20th Street in Manhattan's Gramercy neighborhood. This purveyor of tiny hamburgers was hoppin', with Police Academy cadets rubbing elbows with doctors, rubbing elbows with what appeared to be college students. It has, as our friend Tien reported on his site, an amazing soda fountain, with RC, Bosco Chocolate Soda, and Stewart's Root Beer on tap. Its manager, constantly refilling patrons' soda cups at no extra charge, is straight from the New York school of friendly but feisty, gruff but gracious. Feeling welcome in the joint from the start, I ordered two burgers plain and two with cheese and fought my way onto a stool at the counter once some of our future Finest exited.
Had I stopped with just that one, this review would be different. But as I tore into the second sandwich and the first of my cheeseburgers, I noticed a considerable amount of gristle present. Well, these things happen, I thought, and how much different is it from a juicy strip of fat on a delicious steak? As long as it's isolated in this burger...
Third burger? Uh oh. More gristle. I would have stopped eating at this point but, sitting at the counter and clearly visible to the manager, I didn't want to appear rude (I was taught to finish everything on my plate). So, fourth burger? First bite, and I've got a mouthful of gristle and something that was either very hard gristle or, more likely, a bone chip. At this point, what remained of my appetite vanished for good. I paid my bill and left, wondering how long it would be before I'd be able to go back to burgers.
I could go on about their little grill and the fact that they quickly turn out so many burgers at once on so small a surface. I could talk about their grilling technique. I could list the prices ($1 hamburgers, $1.25 cheeseburgers). But all that pales in light of the gristly meat. I'd like to go back just to see if this was a fluke, a once-in-a-blue-moon case of inattentive meat trimming before grinding. But I don't know if I could bring myself to do so. We at AHT would be curious to hear from other readers regarding The Burger Joint.
THE BURGER JOINT
Location: 241 Third Ave. (at 20th St.), New York City 10003
Extras: Check out this photo of the place below. See the doctor? Do you think he's a cardiologist? Heh. To top it off, when he left, he picked up a cigarette off the sidewalk that he must have left there while he ordered inside! This would be one doctor who would never bug you about your bad habits.
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