Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Revealed: The Secrets of the Le Parker Meridian 

Curiosity might be pictured as a chain of shot glasses extending across a very long bar. My early curiosities were complex—why did animals have souls which were not immortal? why does my younger brother’s birthday come before mine if I was born before him?—the equivalent of kamikaze shots. As circumstances and biological predications have permitted, my curiosity has grown to encompass far simpler things—we are on whiskey and chilled vodka now. There is very little of life or New York City that doesn’t interest me these days.

So when my friend called me this afternoon and said we should have burgers at a secret midtown burger joint I eagerly agreed. Ordinarily lunch is really too early for burgers, unless you’ve already been drinking. But my friend has become a regular at a very unlikely greasy skillet in midtown and I wanted to experience it first hand.

The Burger Place is hidden in the lobby of Le Parker Meridian. To get there you enter through the modern glass façade of the hotel, walk through the shiny lobby past the check-in desk, and follow an enormous floor to ceiling curtain long a narrow passage running perpendicular to the desk. At the end of the corridor is an unmarked door on the right. Stepping through the door is like entering another world. You go from glitzy New York hotel to divey, greasy, burger haven in the distance of a threshold.

The patrons are surly, the staff is unaccommodating, and the burgers are great. They come wrapped in white paper, with fries in a brown paper bag. For appearances sake, we brought along two young women who work in the neighborhood. Burgers, fries and drinks for four cost thirty-one dollars even. After we ate, I wanted to tell my friends about my shot-theory of curiosity but we were too well-fed for theory just then. It was time for walking and cigarettes.