Still A Cornerstone Burger


Corner Bistro | 331 West 4th St. (at Jane and West 4th Sts.) | 212.242.9502 | cornerbistrony.com | | |

TALK ABOUT “OLD SCHOOL”! I find it almost reassuring that the venerated New York City pub-slash-burger joint-cum-institution, Corner Bistro, doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page, eschewing today’s modern conventions for more lo-fi tradition. And it turns out they’ve been clinging to this nostalgic ideology since they first opened this corner box in 1961, while, more and more every year, enjoying one of the best burger reps in city history. Actually, “enjoying” would be the wrong word; they are so gritty and real old school Gotham that they could give a rat’s ass whether you like their burgers or not!


Corner Bistro

Corner Bistro


And after nine years since my last visit, I was happy to find the vibe and atmosphere still the same: underwhelming. And I mean that in a good way. No bells and whistles. No hip hop for white people or dubstep. No hipster staff with tattoos, ironic beards, or face ornaments. No karaoke or trivia nights. Just a worn out bar top with semi-comfortable stools, well-trodden floors, a snow-capped bartender, and an unamused server. The menu is still sparse—4 burgers, 3 sandwiches, chili, fries—with the burgers of note still grilled in their conveyor belt-type contraption.

I order a cheeseburger, medium, and a side a fries. Simple order, simple prep, simple service. Simply delicious.


Corner Bistro Cheeseburger

Corner Bistro Cheeseburger

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Corner Bistro Cheeseburger

Corner Bistro Cheeseburger

Corner Bistro Fries


And then the discussion—internal or through forum—begins. Is this (still) one of the best burgers in New York City. Diehards swear by it. Others cry, “overrated”. Me? I found this burger had great texture—I love a loose interior crumble and exterior caramelization—but do prefer a bit more of those lovely warm, clear beef juices running down my chin and slowly disintegrating the integrity of the bottom bun. The beef had great flavor, but could’ve used more salt (under-salting less of a crime to me than over-salting, unless, of course, I’m drunk!). And, as is always the case at a place that has high turnover (Corner Bistro boasts long lines and long waits during peak hours), the accoutrements were delectable, with the cool, crisp lettuce, firm plump juice tomato, bright, earthy onion, and briny crunchy pickles putting the band back together with ketchup and mustard for another great concert.

I defend to the in-the-minority naysayers with a movie analogy. Th films Animal House and Porky’s were critically panned for their base humor and lowest common denominator mentality and were never going to be in the run for an Academy award. They were also commercial hits and became the very model of teen movies that defined the 80s, were emulated in the 90s, and still set the standards for copycatters from 2000 to the present, in movies such as Scream and American Pie, or even lovingly referenced and revered in movies like, let’s say, Old School!

Corner Bistro started out is a quiet little local pub where a guy could get a cheap cold beer and a cheap burger when he got hungry, regardless if it was before noon or after midnight. An innocuous hangout of no pretense and just enough apathy to relax with. But then early, and quickly, it became a bellwether cornerstone of burger pubs in what has now long been the best burger city in the world. And I give it all the credit in the world for being—yes, despite this particular burger’s scant shortfalls—still one of the best of thousands of burgers in all of New York City.

So regardless if whether you look up to Corner Bistro as the high standard of burgers, or look down on it as overrated, Corner Bistro will always stand tall by doing what it’s been doing right for legions and generations of fans for years, but for then also not giving a shit whether you like it or not!


Corner Bistro



Bun Apple Tea!

KACnyc


Corner Bistro on Urbanspoon


Corner Bistro | 331 West 4th St. (at Jane and West 4th Sts.) | 212.242.9502 | cornerbistrony.com | | |



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