Final Word on Corner Bistro, A Burger Saved by Toppings

Date July 1, 2009

Whenever the conversation about Manhattan’s best burger arises, Corner Bistro, the self proclaimed “last of the bohemian bars in west Greenwich Village,” always seems to get a mention.  My question is always “why?”  Despite being broiled, the burger is par-cooked and flavorless.  The only saving graces are a plethora of toppings which divert attention away from a lackluster patty.  I respect an old school bar that offers $2.50 beers all night and serves burgers until 4AM, so if you’re looking for a drunken nightcap, head on over.  But to call Corner Bistro one of the best burgers in Manhattan is a disservice to all of the finely crafted ones out there.

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Last week I dined on one of their $6.75 Bistro burgers (toasted bun, American cheese, deep-fried bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and raw white onion beneath the burger) for the first time in almost two years.  My theory was confirmed.  The burger was juicy and cooked-to-order medium rare but lacked any hint of spicing, even salt or pepper.  I’m not usually one to pile on veggies with my bacon, cheese and beef, but this burger necessitates it.  The towering burger below was the final result of my resurrection of the Corner Bistro burger.  I don’t know if it was my hunger or the pleasure of seeing something so gloriously gluttonous, but with all those toppings piled on top, plus a heap of Heinz, this was finally a tasty burger.

IMG_1381 comp

THE FOOD MENU

IMG_1348 comp

THE BEER MENU

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CORNER BISTRO

331 West 4th Street at Jane Street
New York, NY10014
Mon-Sat 11:30am- 4:00am
Sun 12:00pm- 4:00am
212-242-9502

29 Responses to “Final Word on Corner Bistro, A Burger Saved by Toppings”

  1. FN said:

    Foodguy, please get out to A Bistro in Brooklyn for their burger. Interested in your opinion.

  2. Before Sunrise said:

    So, in your opinion, which is the best burger in NYC? My sister is visiting this month and she always wants a good burger. Suggestions?

  3. PigTrip said:

    This was your first visit in almost two years– what did you think of Corner Bistro’s burger back then? Is it that they slipped or have been surpassed by the newcomers?

  4. Phil said:

    Good to know, I always hear so much hype about this place.

    Food Guy, do you ever do fast food? just wondering……

  5. DWeez said:

    Yeah, it’d be interesting to hear your take on the best NYC burger. I would also suggest the fries there.

  6. AG said:

    Glad to see you weren’t a fan. It’s such an overrated burger, yet people still praise it in all it’s unseasoned glory. My recent burger endeavor brought me to Veselka, a few problems here and there, but overall pleased with the temp., seasoning and char.

  7. The NYC Food Guy said:

    FN,
    Where is A Bistro? Want to join with me?

    Before Sunrise,
    Burger Joint is my top pick in Manhattan as of now.
    It’s at Le Parker Meridien Hotel.
    Here’s all the inside info: http://nycfoodguy.com/2008/05/09/burger-joint-secrets-to-success/

    If you want something more expensive and pretty delicious, make a reservation at
    Minetta Tavern for their Black Label Burger. It’s $26 of dry aged steak and buttery onions on a tasty bun. The fries are standard, however, but the experience is swanky in an old school NY kind of way.

    PigTrip,
    I’ve maintained this same opinion since day 1. The first time I had it was after a night on the town and I had it to go, with all the toppings already on it, something I wasn’t about to take apart on my lap. It was really tasty although I think the booze helped. The second time I was sober and just went bacon and cheese and it was really mundane. The third time it was back to the toppings, while sober, and the burger was not good. Then the two year break and now back with this final word. Do you have any thoughts?

    Phil,
    Funny you ask, don’t tell anyone but I ate a McDonald’s #2 yesterday out of pure guilty pleasure. It was delicious but I regretted it immediately. I rarely do fast food, however, unless I’m in a bind or on a road trip.

    DWeez,
    You would suggest the fries at Corner Bistro? I can’t disagree, they’re fried in the same grease as the bacon. Nice.

    As of now, the burger I like the most is Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien. It’s flame broiled, tender, and pretty damn delicious, without and without the toppings that constitute “the works” (lettuce, tomato, pickle, sliced red onion, mayo, mustard, ketchup). The fries there are also good, McDonald’s style, but tastier because they’re served in a paper bag and there’s just something good about fried food in a paper bag. Brooklyn Diner used to be my favorite burger but it has definitely slipped and fallen prey to inconsistent preparation and recipe changes (no butter on bun and different fries) which isn’t cool with a $17 price tag. I had it the other day and it was still tasty but not my favorite anymore.

    How about you DWeez? top burgers?

    AG,
    Veselka is solid but not great. I agree. I thought the bun was weak last time I ate there, it was more Kaiser-like than fluffy as it previously had been. What’s the best burger you’ve had lately? Top burger in BK?

  8. Phil said:

    Has anyone ever had the burger at buby’s???

  9. Pete C said:

    i used to think corner bistro hada very solid burger…maybe i need to check again….
    you should check out the chocolate place around the corner…. best hot chocolate i ever had…. made the original style by mayans with hot pepper….. but much better on a cold day..

  10. Slappy said:

    Food guy, you said it — if you’re hammered at 3 am, this burger is pretty decent. the fries were OK from what i remember, and they serve it to you in a brown paper bag when you take it to go–and anything served in a brown paper bag is good. what other burgers are around in nyc at 4 am that are better than this though? beggars can’t be choosers at 4 in the morning!

  11. BurgerComa said:

    I’m glad you think poorly of The Corner Bistro Burger. Now less people will be waiting on line (for up to an hour some nights) and I don’t have to wait as long for the best Burger in NYC. There is a reason this place has a line out the door all hours of the evening 7 days a week without any advertising or PR from guys like you…. Its the best. The less people that know it the better for us real Corner Bistro fans.

  12. Billingham :: Burger Bashing :: July :: 2009 said:

    […] Food Guy bucks conventional wisdom and trashes the Corner Bistro’s famed burger.  "Saved by toppings" isn’t code for "Best in New York" Posted by: […]

  13. Bill said:

    I don’t know that he is trashing it, just that he doesn’t think it’s that good and not the best (in his opinion). I’ve have only tried it once, late last fall and I absolutely loved it. The simplicity of it really wowed me and I didn’t think it needed anything. I’m really glad NYCFG described exactly why he didn’t like it. So many reviews on sites don’t give enough detail (and really you don’t need to be a food writer to provide that kind of info) and the very reason someone dislikes something may be the very same reason someone else would love it.

    I may have to head back there to see how it measures up and to Burger Joint to see if I end up liking it this time.

    Has anyone tried Black Iron Burger in Alphabet City? I went there a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was the best burger I’ve ever had, but I’d go back again. My medium burger was nice and pink, good crust from the flat-top and the sesame seeded bun held up nicely. The fries are the food service kind and they were open about that, but the cook put an 80/20 blend of pepper and salt on them and it really brought them to another level!

  14. 2Kizzle said:

    I ATE WITH THE FOOD GUY LAST NIGHT AND MY GOD HE LOOKS SO DREAMY IN PERSON AND THROUGH THE COMPUTER – I THINK WE SHOULD AUCTION A 5 COURSE DINNER WITH THE FOOD GUY AND DONATE ALL PROCEEDS TO EVENTUAL LIPOSUCTION AND CLOGGED ARTERY REMOVAL FOR HIM CCCCORRRECCTT.. BISTRO IS LEGIT, PARKER MERIDIAN IS TOO, SOUP BURG ON UES IS RIDICULOUS – THE SCHNOZBERRIES TASTE LIKE SCHNOZBERRIES – YOU BOYS LIKE MEXICO?!!??!?! WOOO HOOOOOOO

  15. FN said:

    Foodguy, it’s in Fort Greene. I would love to join you but I will be back in Paris in a few days so maybe next time I’m back in town. Take a peek:

    http://pufflist.blogspot.com/2008/11/bistro.html

  16. Rev said:

    Been there and couldn’t agree more. Totally overrated.

    http://burgerconquest.blogspot.com/2009/02/corner-bistro-if-at-first-you-dont.html

  17. AG said:

    Right on about their bun, too squishy.

    Best burger lately? Best in BK? I’m partial to Dram Shop in Park Slope, with their double-patty burger, shredded lettuce and American cheese. Plus their fries are skin-on Belgian style and delicious.

    Also really like the Txikito burger these days. A completely different model of burger, 2 patties, goats milk cheese, a creamy spicy Spanish mayo, cornichons, pickled onions on a Tom Cat Bakery bun. Paired with a side of spicy patatas and cod-roe mayo and you’ve got a contender.

  18. Phil said:

    AG… MAN that Txikito burger sounds INCREDIBLE!! Where can I find that?!?!?!?! Also at Dram Shop?

  19. Don said:

    I just spent a month in NYC and tried burgers at Corner Bistrp Dresslers, Minetta Tavern, Shake Shack and The Little Owl. Hands down no contest its the Little Owl, but leave the bacon off!

  20. 0-R said:

    corner bistro is O-VER-RA-TED! you are spot on w/ this review food guy

  21. stevenp said:

    Burgercoma, yes, it does appear your senses have left you, true to your medical state. CB is decidedly a subpar burger, acceptable perhaps but not even in the same league as, say, the Burger Joint or even the Shack. Throwing a bunch of secondary veggies and crap and charging a somewhat inexpensive price does not save a burger if the meat itself is not tasty. And CB’s burger meat is not great, as FG accurately noted above. Not to mention that you often get a precooked burger, which is even worse. Don’t worry, you won’t see me or any other sober burger aficianado making the line longer in front of you at your favorite spot.

  22. Anonymous said:

    Past 2 times I have went I have been horribly let down – very upsetting.

  23. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Phil,
    Never had the burger at Bubby’s. All I had were pancakes and banana cream pie, sadly neither was really that delicious and I waited a while to sit. Any recs at Bubby’s?

    Pete C,

    Wow man, thats a big claim. Thanks for the recommendation, I’m usually over there late night but I’ll try to make a trip this winter for a taste of the hot chocolate.

    Slappy,
    Funny you ask what other burgers are around at 4am that are worth eating. On Fridays and Saturdays, Stand, on 12th street off University Place, tries to stay open till 4am. I say “tries” because they’ll close early if they’re not getting business.

    Veselka on 2nd Ave and 9th street also has a decent late night burger though it has really disappointed my last two visits. Bad bun and overcooked.

    I’m still on the hunt for a great late night burger, there has to be an awesome diner out there that’s seriously producing good burgers. Anyone finds anything, send it this way. Thanks.

    BurgerComa,
    Enjoy Corner Bistro without me. I’ll try to find a better late night burger for you. And as far as not needing PR guys, I think that’s where the problem with Bistro lies, I have a feeling it was great a while back, when it was a lot less popular, but now it’s not you Corner Bistro Fans, it’s everyone and their mother who geos there. The result being par cooked, flavorless burgers that save time and make it easier to mass produce. The problem with Bistro is that it’s now just flying on it’s laurels, not doing anything to get better because the reputation is established and they have no reason to improve. I’d be worried if I were you, the state of CB’s burger is on the decline and it’s only worse from here. What’s your 2nd favorite burger?

    Bill,
    Thanks for backing me up. Great minds think alike.

    I have been to Black Iron but I went very early on. I’d love to get back there and try it again, the Black Iron burger with the horseradish sauce was definitely tasty as were the fried green tomatoes. Hit me up, let’s meet up for a burger.

    2Kizzle,

    Um yea. Thanks. I think. Ha.

    FN,
    Hit me up when you’re back in town. I remember reading that review when you first wrote it. Good find.

    Rev,
    How is it that you’ve been holding your site down but Burger Club gets the glory? BS!

    AG,

    The Spanish burger sounds pretty interesting. I remember hearing about Dram from you, I’m going to have to check both out.

    Phil,
    You can find the Txikito burger at…. Txikito. It’s a Basque Spanish restaurant and the burger is on the lunch menu, as far as I know Tuesday to Friday, 12-3.

    Here’s Serious Eats review of the burger with a photo:
    http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/02/ed-levine-on-txikitos-burger-chelsea-nyc.html

    Here’s Txikito’s website:
    http://www.txikitonyc.com/index.html

    We should meet up and check it out. Let me know if you’re game.

    Don,
    Very interesting appraisal.
    So you went for Dressler’s over Dumont or Dumont Burger, the places that made creator Colin Devlin famous? Interesting. I personally wasn’t blown away by the Dumont Burger’s Burger. I had bacon cheese and onions and also tried the mac and cheese, nothing was ridiculous. The fries were good though.

    Bistro doesnt even belong on that list of places you tried and that’s exactly the aim of this post: to dispell the notion that it has a place on the list of NYC’s best burgers. It does not. It’s a crappy burger. The patty sucks. It’s just cool because it’s served until 4am and it’s cheap.

    I’m surprised you like Little Owl better than Minetta. Did price influence that argument. Also, why do you say no bacon on Little Owl? I tried it today with bacon and I thought it was tasty but by no means the best I’ve had. Then again, as my friend noted, chef Joey Campanaro was not cooking in the kitchen. I personally liked Minetta better. Obviously a better beef blend (LaFrieda’s Black Label) and the onions were really tasty. Bun is close, but if I had to choose, I’d probably go with the Minetta bun, it was just buttery enough while still being light and airy. Hard not to love. My issue with Little Owl is two part: 1) The American Cheese is too strong of a flavor for a $16 burger. I would like cheddar and that’s sadly not an option. 2) the burger itself, while juicy and perfectly cooked to order, just didnt pop. Not enough flavor or char on the exterior for me. I need that outer crunch.

    When are you coming back? What else is on your list?

    0-R,
    Thanks.

    stevenp,

    Well said sir.

    Anonymous,
    I experienced exactly the same. Sad story. What’s a good burger you’ve had lately?

  24. ScottV said:

    I miss the burgers at McHale’s

  25. HowfreshEats said:

    I don’t know what it will take for you to see the truth- a Piper’s Kilt Burger. Stop wasting your time with this nonsense.

    It’s been years since I ate at Corner Bistro. I thought it was good, but not destination worthy. I also thought the burger was too thick, pause. Stretch it out a little.

    I agree with the Black Iron tout. Really tasty burger- though the buns have way too many sesame seeds. Good people too.

    Shake Shack still wears the gold.

  26. Societe Perrier » Blog Archive » Week in Reviews: Aldea Gets a Deuce said:

    […] twenty minute wait a bit much, NYC Food Guy finds that it’s the toppings make the burger at Corner Bistro, Fork in the Road finds great, cheap tacos at El Centenario/Luz de Luna #2, Food in Mouth finds the […]

  27. Kyle said:

    First, love the blog. Been a long time reader and must admit you were part of the inspiration for the start to my own blog with a buddy recently. We’ve yet to formally review Corner Bistro, but have been there in the past…very underwhelming. Its on the books to get to again, but I gotta say the burgers never wowed me. The meat was definitely fresh, but the seasoning (or lack there of) was disappointing. The bacon is much much better at JG Melon and the rest of the burger doesnt make me want to come back. As a pub, I dig Corner Bistro. As a destination for the best nyc burger, Id pass and recommend plenty of other spots. Keep up the great stuff and would love for you to check out our blog: Best Burger NYC. Maybe an add to the blog roll? We’d love to start it up!

  28. Bill’s Bar & Burger in Meatpacking District Overrated By Critics | NYC Food Guy said:

    […] and 4AM Friday and Saturday, so if it wants to be the prime late night neighborhood option over Corner Bistro and Pastis, creating a great burger on a quiet  Tuesday should be child’s play, […]

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