This weekend, like so many other New Yorkers, we made an attempt to visit The Clock, the 24-hour movie at the Paula Cooper Gallery in West Chelsea. But the wind and the wait meant we lasted about a minute. So to make up for our feeble attempt at joining the queue, we’d though we’d pick another line to conquer, if we could find one indoors. The answer? Corner Bistro, of course, the Greenwich Village bar with the long-standing must-eat burgers at the corner of West Fourth and Jane. In these days of ever-multiplying fancypants burgers (made with grass-fed meats or in the style of Juicy Lucys or with foie gras-truffle toppings or build-your-own buns or smashed patties) it’s almost kind of fashionable to say the Bistro burger ain’t what it used to be.
Well we’re here to say that’s all wrong. It’s simple — a thick house-formed patty cooked on a broiler and served on a soft bun with L, T, O and bacon, if you go $7.25 Bistro Burger — but it’s damn juicy and damn tasty, salty, beefy bliss.
Want proof? Just check the rapidly congealing puddles of beef fat on your little paper plate when you’re done. (Little paper plate!) And as we were happily reminded by George Motz in his seminal book Hamburger America (a new version hits streets soon) the mix of sirloin and chuck (and maybe some porterhouse, the owner told Motz) is still walked over each day from ye olde Meatpacking butcher shops just a block or two away.
Another fun fact: Mimi Sheraton, the former Times food critic who recently noted she wouldn’t head to Brooklyn if she had to stand in line to eat when she got there, is probably the person responsible for creating those lines at the Bistro. Back in 1977, Motz recounts, Sheraton reviewed the place — the first such formal rave for beef and bun — and the result is now burger history. We don’t know how long Sheraton lasts at Corner Bistro, but if any food is worth waiting in line for, wethinks, it’s a damn good hamburger.