Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien | 119 West 56th St. (bet. 6th and 7th Aves.) | 212.245.5000 | parkermeridien.com |

UNOFFICIALLY, I AM making a robust attempt at trying all of the commonly regarded "best" burgers in New York City. As I have stated many times before. The idea of a "best" anything is a bit disingenuous. Unless someone has tried every single burger in the city, one cannot declare a best.

But this city does have its share of genuinely outstanding ones, and many, as well, of highest regard. One such burger is being served in a sequestered and hidden corner of the lobby of the very upscale Le Parker Meridien Hotel, from a small, low rent (only in decor, I'm sure) boîte called (the) Burger Joint.

The menu, like the decor, is "no-fuss", offering either a hamburger or American cheese burger, with tomato, onion, relish, pickle, mayo, ketchup and mustard being the only available accoutrements. I order a cheeseburger with mustard, relish, and onions (my favorite way), a side of fries, and a small fountain root beer.

A playful mix of evocative nostalgia and "no frills" charm with a subtle upscale pedigree, this burger did possess and display many successes. Although cooked over an open grill (and not the now more preferred and appreciated flat-top grill), the flat-ish patty did accumulate a nice minimally salty caramelization on its exterior, housing a slim, crumbly, juicy ring of grayish cooked-through, tasty beef, then finishing with pliantly tender and pink rare meat whose reserve moisture helped each mouthful bite and swallow with plenty of flavor and with pleasurable ease.

Fresh onions, a crisp lettuce leaf, the sweet acidity if pickles, and the earthy-yet-bright of the highly piquant and aromatic mustard added the requisite great variety of texture, depth, temperature, and tastes, although may have slightly overwhelmed the beef's overall flavor. A bigger, thicker patty may have better benefitted from my choice of toppings. The buns are a supermarket brand, which is not a negative on its own (sometimes, quite the opposite), but the were not (noticeably) toasted, which, again, is a personal preference.

The fries (the skill in making really well having gone greatly under-appreciated by a generation of diners!) were a winner. Yes, dry and crispy on the outside and light and airy on the inside, theses potatoes also pull off the slight miracle of maintaining those properties regardless of the blanket of ketchup or the passage of time.

Friends and followers frequently ask me for flat-out recommendations. Burgers lend themselves, in my opinion, to more personal scrutiny and enjoyment. Heck, most people who care about such things still argue—many with snooty acrimony—about what the ideal burger temperature should be.

Those times that I actually care about having a really good burger, I know where my favorites are dependent on my geography. I really liked the burger here, and if I were in the neighborhood and cared enough to want to have a good burger, I wold definitely come here.

If I were on the Lower East Side, I'd go to Bill's. When I'm home, Joy Burger.

But for those of you who still want a frame of reference, I will from now on—as I keep exploring the burger options through the city (see you soon, Minetta Tavern!)—supply, at the end of my posts, a completely and intentionally subjective list of my five (actually, six) favorite burger places, to date:

1. Joy Burger 2. Bill's Burger & Bar 3. 5 Napkins Burger 4. [tie] Black Iron Burger, Shake Shack (I still want to try one without the sauce...) 6. Burger One (large, flattened patties get extra seasoning from being cooked on the same flattop grill that cooks a morning's worth of bacon and onions!)

(I would also love to include the burgers at Dorrian's Red Hand, but since I also work there and am responsible for the specialty burgers—including the new Blue Mountain Burger!—I'll sit this one out. But go try one.)

I could comfortably put Burger Joint at number 7, and they should still find great compliment in that (they're number 7 out of, something like, 500...!), as I left not just an enjoyable lunch, but a homey conceit of a small kitchen and dining room with hungry diners (yes, a great many of them tourists) that kept me in a "comfort" frame of mind, before returning to ever-waiting reality.

Bun Apple Tea!


Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien | 119 West 56th St.) (bet. 6th and 7th Aves.) | 212.245.5000 | parkermeridien.com |