A Tale of Two Burgers: The Corner Bistro & Prune

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Clotilde just completed her book tour (I love the video of her giving a talk at Google) and I am honored to say that Craig and I were co-Chairmen of the Official Welcoming Committee, ushering Mme. Clotilde to her first American nosh-spot on a tour that would take her through Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco. Where did we take her? Did we take her somewhere fancy? Somewhere trendy? Someplace important? Nope. We took her to a bar for burgers.

Not just any bar, though. We took her to the Corner Bistro–often thought to have the best burger in New York. I’d never been there before, so it was as much an adventure for me as it was for Clotilde (Craig had been there before and he was a fan.)

There’s not much to report about the place. It looks like a bar, it’s in a charming area of the West Village, when you sit down the service is gruff, and there aren’t many choices. (Here are the choices, posted in the window):

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One doesn’t come to the Corner Bistro, though, for froofy service or a Grilled Chicken Sandwich. One comes to the Corner Bistro for burgers. And what a burger it is! Here’s a picture from Clotilde’s moblog (my picture didn’t come out) of the Corner Bistro burger:

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This burger is a wonder. It’s thick, it’s perfectly cooked, juicy and covered in cheese and bacon. If eating a burger is a sin, this burger is like going to Vegas with a hooker who you kill, stuff in your trunk, and push off into a canyon. “Plus,” says Craig. “It’s really cheap.”

We noshed these burgers in a dim corner and chatted up Clotilde who was just revving up for her tour. I think she thought the burger was a perfect start to her trip–she cleaned her plate with flair and had a very satisfied look on her face. (Not satisfied enough, though, to refuse ice cream on the walk back to her hotel!)

A week later, Craig had very exciting news in the morning: he got a big chunk of money to make his first feature film (he’s shooting it this summer in Seattle–that means I’ll be there for a bit too!) and so, to celebrate, we went to Prune for lunch.

Going to Prune for lunch seems like it might be wildly decadent, but it’s actually incredibly reasonable. You’re eating brilliant food by a brilliant chef at diner prices. Prune’s lunch burger costs $12; my local diner charges $10. And the Prune burger, like The Corner Bistro’s, is also a wonder:

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What this burger has that so few other New York burgers do is character. There’s lamb mixed in with the meat and that gives it a depth of flavor that’s incredibly unusual and incredibly effective. Plus it’s super juicy and the English muffin bun, which Craig was wary of, soaks in all the juices and provides a perfect vehicle for the flavor powerhouse you’re putting into your mouth. (They could be a little less skimpy with the fries, though.)

So between these two burgers, Corner Bistro is where I’d go for the classic all-Ameriacn sinful burger experience. But Prune is where I’ll go when my tastebuds cry out for more. Either way, this is a good city for burgers.

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