331 W Fourth St (at Jane St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 242-9502
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Burgers
Area: Greenwich Village
Nestled away on a quiet section of West 4th Street, many blocks in from Seventh Avenue, is a turn of the 20th century relic called The Corner Bistro. Unless you live in this part of The Village I doubt you'd ever make it here. Aesthetically speaking, it's nothing to write home about and most would pass right by. In fact, it's just a typical bar you'd find on any street corner in Gotham, red marquis and all. But if food is your thing, money is tight, and beef is your meat of choice, you may know a thing or two about this place. You see, the Corner Bistro has been serving up one of the best burgers in the city for years.
Walking through the door you may want to arm yourself with a set of earplugs though. The music is deafening. Or, like my sister and I decided, you could just deal with it, let your soul indulge in some seriously loud Rock and Roll, and remember the reason that you came… the thick and juicy burgers, the thick and juicy burgers, the thick and juicy burgers…
We got there at about 8:30 on a Saturday night. The lines to the back room tables were long and practically out the door. So being that we were minus a party of four, we scanned the bar for a couple of stools. We got lucky, and as it turns out, in more ways than one. Russell Crowe's double was tending bar that night and came right over to take our order. I think my sister thought he was checking her out. Good for me because I was ridiculously hungry and craving a beer.
Drinks are pretty standard here, a fully stocked bar with a typical assortment of imported, seasonal, and local beers, including NYC's own McSorley's Ale from that other relic across town. We ordered our drinks and I asked for the menu. Silly me. There wasn't one. Russell pointed to the the black and white diner board on the wall with a choice of nine things to eat: The Bistro Burger, with bacon and cheese, $6.75, the standard Cheeseburger, $6.00, Hamburger, $5.75, and Grilled Chicken Sandwich, $6.00. Also on the list was a BLT for $5.50, Grilled Cheese, $3.75, Chili, $5.50, Chili Burger, $6.75, and Fries, $2.50. Skinny fries that is, which I had heard were quite good. Yup, that's it, no formalities, no fuss, and no long list of food choices.
We both ordered the cheeseburger and split an order of fries. Five minutes later the food was delivered. I wondered for an instant how it came out so fast. I mean I know we weren't sitting uptown at the Plaza Hotel with a made to order Beef Wellington or anything like that, but this wasn't McDonald's either. Then my good sense kicked in. Obviously, when you're visiting one of the city's best spots for burgers and that's basically all they serve, the cook's going to be firing them up all night long. So in this way it was like a fast food joint. When it came to the quality of beef however, make no mistake, it was Grade A all the way.
Served on a paper plate you'd probably buy from the dollar store, is a 1 1/2 inch thick, one half pound ground sirloin burger grilled to perfection. On top of this mouth watering mound is a slab of melted cheese, fresh onion, tomato, and a spine of iceberg lettuce. Yes, I did say paper plate and iceberg lettuce. Nothing's perfect after all. In fact, neither was the bun. It was soggy and cheap and if you ask me they could have sprung for a couple of sturdier pieces of bread for this baby to sleep on. It also would have made eating it a bit more pleasant. Getting it to fit in our mouths was an obvious challenge. The bun was breaking up and falling all over our hands which was not helping us look at all attractive to Mr. Crowe over there belting out Rock and Roll songs.
In the end it didn't matter. He was married and we were ready to leave. So pleasingly stuffed and at least a pound heavier we headed out to our next destination… a blues bar. Not that we'd be able to hear the music after an hour in this place. Oh well, I guess a good burger at these prices comes with some sacrifices.
Review By: Andrea Muller