From Gray Bars to Black Iron


Black Iron Burger Shoppe | 540 East 5th St. (bet. Aves. A & B) | 212.677.6067 | www.blackironburger.com

YES. THIS WEEK was very busy. So much so that I hadn’t had the opportunity to leave 84th Street since last Friday when I went to visit my friend, Danny, at Lenox Hill Hospital where he was being tended to for a burst appendix. I was the self-employed Prisoner of Yorkville I bartend, as many of you know, at Dorrian’s during the weekend and during the week I do graphic/web design from my apartment directly above said bar.

I don’t mind busy weeks, especially ones like this week when clients actually pay, and pay on time. And after subsisting on my own cooking, leftovers, and food deliveries the whole week, I pursued the sole yet perfect opportunity to try out another well-received and well-reviewed new food place. Plus, the place is in my new favorite, up-and-coming food neighborhood: the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

First, I discovered Caracas, on 7th Street between 1st and Avenue A, after seeing it featured in an episode of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. Then, after seemingly each of my most trustworthy magazines listed Porchetta as NYC’s best pork place, also on 7th between 1st and A, where I spoiled myself to a divinely memorable birthday lunch!

Next on this particular agenda was a place the same mags said was a great new burger place—yes, yet another one!—called Black Iron Burger.

My friend, Marcy, who lives in the neighborhood, finally tried it out last week and raved about it. Sold! I was definitely going to have to try it. So at a little after 3:30 pm today, I jumped the M15 Limited down 2nd Avenue.

Having skipped lunch in anticipation, I was giddy with excitement; the bus ride tried desperately to spoil my good mood. Four—count ‘em, four!—stops for wheelchair-bound passengers. Now, I am completely sympathetic, but as I was close to starving, it was achingly heart-breaking watching the local buses passing me by!

Adding insult to injury, all the junior high school students just getting out of school loaded onto my bus like they were on their own prison release and that made the two toddlers start wailing at the top of their lungs like (trying desperately to avoid a Heidi Montag reference), um, like a primate zoo during mating season (?!).

Gratefully hopping off the bus at 8th Street and A, I power-walked my to 6th and A, past McSorley’s until I happened upon this innocuous yet pleasantly deco’ed storefront:


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I loved the “Olde”-style look of the facade, and maybe hoped briefly that the place wasn’t trying to be kitschy, “theme”-y, or ironic, especially with such a cool logo and sign:


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Stepping into the place, which was empty, prompting me to briefly fear they were only open for dinner, the ambient charm continued:


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The bartender, Mike, was gracious, comfortably low-key, and very LES-ish, as was the rest of the staff, which I thought was great because I’ve always felt that, no matter where you decide to grab a bite or sit for a drink, you should never forget that you’re in New York! He was also kind to make me aware of the weekday lunch prices, which pretty much amount to $1 off for draft beers and a similarly discounted price for a burger, a side, and a soft drink.

I hadn’t planned to have a beer (I debated the option of beer or milkshake, the milkshakes of which I had heard were also good), but after the bus ride from Dante’s imaginations and the quickly elevating humidity, a frosty beer sounded like a great week-ender (and weekend “beginning”-er)!

I chose the house brand, Black Iron Ale, and took hearty sips while the bartender, also my cook, prepared the Black Iron Burger, medium, with horseradish cheddar and a side of fries. 5 sips and 4 minutes later, I was presented with this straight-from-the-flattop grill plateful:


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After a quick spread of Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard (no catsup!) on the underside of the top bun which then promptly got secured on top, I took my first heady goodness of a big bite….

Now, before I get into any silly discussion of “Was it the best burger ever?”, i defend that such arguments are ridiculous and moot to the point of being almost rhetorical.

It is, indeed, a great, sumptuous burger. The burger had great, clean, delectable beef flavor and ran clear with meaty juices. The bun was crunchy on the outside and airy-yet-sturdy on the inside without the “fight” on some buns that fool your mouth into sometimes believing you’re biting through a bagel or baguette.

The cool, crisp veggies—roughly-shredded lettuce, thinly sliced red onions, slightly thicker slices of tomato—maintained their bite and firmness throughout the whole increasingly feral event. Let’s take another look at this bad boy, shall we?:


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The fries had that always favorable crunchy exterior/airy interior ratio, and, though lightly seasoned, never shied from its roots as a potato. Someone is bound to ask me if it’s better than a Shake Shack burger; how would I answer that? I would turn down neither! “Shall I compare thee to a Burger Joint burger? Thou art more recession friendly yet more geographically inconvenient.” I will eat their again, yes, referring, if not dragging, skeptical and curious friends alike fully secure with the knowledge that they won’t be disappointed.

I left sated. And considering I couldn’t even finish my fries I was so full, the damage was minimal. I got out of there having just had a cheeseburger with fries, and 16oz. pint of ale, and an extra side of great onion rings whose exterior crunch held its own against my catsup offensive. And I wound up spending $20 total, which included a $4 tip.

Now I am back in my “cell”, right before “lights out”, and as I read this back to myself I feel it only appropriate to imagine Morgan Freeman doing this as a voiceover. I’m playing both prisoner and warden, and feel I made excellent use of my self-alloted time off for good behavior.

Maybe I’ll run into you next time I’m on the outside…

Bun Apple Tea!

.kac.

PS Oh yeah, about those onion rings…:


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Black Iron Burger Shop on Urbanspoon


Black Iron Burger Shoppe | 540 East 5th St. (bet. Aves. A & B) | 212.677.6067 | www.blackironburger.com



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