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Thursday
Sep252008

Burgers & Beers at the Corner Bistro

Amidst the chaos of last week's historical Wall Street meltdown, I found myself wondering what, if any, coping mechanisms people used to get them through this tough time. Would bars be getting more business? What about casinos? And how about drug dealers? I would assume so, but maybe not. This was a financial crisis, after all.
In what has become all too habitual, I decided to numb my pain with a good, inexpensive meal. Noshing on a cheeseburger, fries and a beer (or three) sounded like the perfect dose of medicine for me. My friend Susan and I made our way to the charming West Village neighborhood and found ourselves at the Corner Bistro. Before we walked in, I was imagining us having to wait in a long, winding line for a table. The Corner Bistro is an infamous institution in New York known for their burgers, bar scene and painfully cramped quarters. Luckily, Susan and I arrived around 6:30 p.m., which is considered "meal time for Seniors" by Manhattan standards. We scored a fantastic corner booth in the bar room without having to wait a second.

I wasn't sure whether it was the jazz music singing to me in the background, the old fashioned tin ceilings and the chocolate brown hardwood floors, or observing all of the names and initials etched in our butcher block table; but this restaurant felt very comforting, uplifting and "old New York" to me. Corner Bistro's food menu is simple: Burger, cheeseburger, grilled chicken sandwich, BLT, chili, and French fries. The full bar menu, on the other hand, is much more extensive.

Susan and I each started with a cider beer and split a custom order of chili-cheese fries (I say "custom" because chili, cheese, and French fries are all on the menu, but they aren't offered as the combined greasy masterpiece which I ordered) as an appetizer to our Bistro Burgers ("Bistro" is the addition of cheese and bacon). The cider beer was cold and the chili cheese fries were a hot mess (in a good way). Thin, McDonald's size French fries, were piled on a plate and topped with American cheese slices and doused with homemade beef chili. Pasteurized-processed cheese is normally something that grosses me out to the point of avoidance (except when used in grilled cheese sandwiches), but it worked well with this dish because this type of cheese is creamier than other varieties, such as cheddar. Plus, the chili was piping hot, allowing the processed product to melt seamlessly over the fries. (Oh, who knows, maybe I'm just trying to console my inner "white trash!") Our Bistro Burgers arrived on small, 6" diameter paper plates similar to those that cake used to be served on at childhood birthday parties. Fresh iceberg lettuce, a thick tomato slice and white onion graced one half of the bun, while the thick beef burger patty topped with melted American cheese and bacon graced the other. After a sprinkle of salt and a lather of ketchup, I united the sandwich together and took my first bite. Fitting my mouth around the burger wasn't easy, but I was determined to taste every element, from the bottom bun to the top bun.

Susan and I must have been silent throughout our entire meal. I was so entranced by my Bistro Burger, that I was speechless. The fresh hamburger buns must have been buttered and grilled prior to the addition of ingredients, because they held their shape beautifully. The beef patty had a crusty, perfectly seasoned and salty exterior giving way to a velvety medium cooked interior. The crunch from the lettuce, onion and bacon was a welcome textural and flavorful contrast to the soft bread, meat and melted American cheese. All in all, a perfect cheeseburger.
 
When I came home from work today to edit this review prior to publishing, I reread the first paragraph a couple of times. How ironic was it that just a week ago I had somewhat of a sense of job security, and today, I now find myself in the same situation as so many others on Wall Street? On Tuesday of this week, I received the grim news that the hedge fund that I've worked for the past three years has decided to shut its doors. Needless to say, I'm heartbroken, disappointed, scared and angry. So now I ask myself the same question I hypothetically asked others in my first paragraph, "What coping mechanisms, if any, will I use to get me through this tough time?"

*Something to note when dining at Corner Bistro: it's CASH ONLY

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