Beacon’s Burger Bar Attempts to Gain Coveted Midtown Lunch Status
By now, if you’re a regular reader of this site then you have pretty much figured out my rules for what qualifies as a true Midtown Lunch. The most important rule is probably the one about the meal costing under $10, but I fully admit that sometimes this rule isn’t always clear. Does that mean with tax it has to be under $10? How about drinks? Or chips? Or french fries? What part of the meal must be $10? For example alot of people will email me and suggest a sit down restaurant with an $8.95 or $9.95 lunch special. Sure technically, that could be considered a Midtown Lunch- but I tend to shy away from those places, unless they are doing something that you can’t get anywhere else in Midtown. After all, once you add tax and tip and everything- it ends up being over $10, and not necessarily a great value.
On the other hand, when the bar menu loophole was discovered at Del Frisco’s I immediately blogged about it. $9.95 got you high quality steak tips and mashed potatoes at a sit down restaurant, where lunch normally costs $40. If busting into a super fancy steakhouse, dressed like a schmuck, and eating the cheapest (but totally filling) thing on the menu isn’t the epitome of Midtown Lunch’ish behaviour, then I don’t know what is. They raised the price two weeks later. To some, it may still be worth it- but it’s no longer a Midtown Lunch. In the end, sometimes the whole price thing just comes down to a gut feeling.
So a few weeks back, my gut and I headed over to Beacon, an upscale (read: expensive) American restaurant on 56th btw. 5+6th to check out their “Burger Bar”- which has an under $10 loophole of their own.
I first heard of Beacon’s “Burger Bar” last year on the Strong Buzz, and then a few months later a commenter recommended it in a post about Five Guys. While Beacon’s regular menu is totally out of the ML price range, their “Burger Bar”, a 6 seat chef’s table right in front of the kitchen, had one item for under $10. An $8.95 order of Mini-burgers. I thought, “that could be promising.”
From the moment we arrived at Beacon the service was pretty outstanding. We were seated at a long “bar” situated right in front of the open kitchen and given our “burger menus” which consisted of three items. Burger with fries ($12.95), tuna burger with fries ($13.95), mini burgers ($8.95). I was nervous when the mini burgers didn’t say w/ fries, so we asked the waitress whether or not they came with the order. Her response- something to the effect of “sure, we can give you fries with those” calmed my fears. After we ordered, they served us an amuse- or taste of their brick oven pizza, something a lot of fancy restaurants do. This place was all class! (You know how I feel about the free food…) But the nicer they were, the more worried I was that this was just too good to be true.
When the mini burgers with fries finally came out, we had our first disappointment. As the waitress set the tall order of fries down (for two of us to share) she said “complements of the chef” making me realize the fries didn’t actually come with the burgers- they were just giving us free fries (the restaurant was not super full, and you could tell they were excited to have us sitting at the burger bar.) On top of that, the mini burgers weren’t sliders at all, but a 1/4 to 1/3 pound burger on top of country bread, cut into four quarters. There’s no question it was quality meat, and cooked perfectly medium rare- but the gut couldn’t help but think this wasn’t really a Midtown Lunch- especially if the fries didn’t always come with the meal.
When you sit at a Chef’s table, they will often give you preferential treatment- but usually you’re spending a ton of money. We ordered the cheapest item on the menu, no drinks and were certainly not dressed the part. I don’t know if they saw me taking photos of my hamburgers or what, but the way we were treated was laughably good. Free fries made the mini burgers worth, but without them I’m not sure this is a Midtown Lunch.
That being said, I know alot of you aren’t as strict with your budget as I am, and their burgers are definitely high quality. So if you are looking for a new (read: classier) experience than the ones I typically write about, then maybe the Burger Bar is right for you. If you come to this site looking for the best deals on the most food possible in a quick and easy setting- Beacon is not going to change your life.
- Quality meat, in a fancy setting for under $10 (sort of)
- If you’re lucky they’ll give you free stuff (although maybe you have to be taking photos of your food?)
- There is free pickles and free cole slaw at the burger bar
- The burgers weren’t actually sliders. It was one open face burger, cut into four pieces
- It doesn’t actually come with fries
- To order off the burger bar menu, you have to be seated at the burger bar- which only has 8 seats
Beacon, 25 W. 56th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-332-0500