Your First Look at Clarke’s Standard
P.J. Clarke’s first foray into the take-away market, Clarke’s Standard (Lex+54th), opened the other day without some of the major kinks seen in other openings. Yes, the lines were long, but the behind-the-counter assembly line kept the burgers moving. And though we saw part of the menu, there were a few surprises. I stopped by during the lunch rush to see if the burgers are worth and to get my hands on some cheesy tots.
First, the burgers. I picked up a Standard (American cheese, tomato, lettuce, and standard sauce) ($7.50) while my friend chose a Brooklyn au Poivre (cracked pepper sauce, farmer’s Gouda, peppers, and onions) ($7.75). Both burgers were a good size–bigger than Shake Shack, smaller than Five Guys–the meat was juicy, but not greasy; and had been well-seasoned, I tasted a bit of black pepper in my burger. The bun-to-burger ratio was also favorable: the bun lasted throughout the burger without losing its consistency and was a normal soft bun, not sweet brioche. The burgers come in a little cardboard holder which does cause juice to collect on one side of the burger, and some ingredient sliding, not a problem if you’re eating in, but could be a problem if taking out.
The Brooklyn au Poivre might have been the better of the two, especially if one was hoping to keep their final bill below $10. The bottom of the actual patty had been encrusted with pepper, like a steak au poivre. My friend appeared to enjoy this aspect of the burger–it not only adds to the taste, but also the texture.
My burger was good for a standard burger, possibly better than any of the burgers I had in that area when I worked there. My only issue came from the cheese, an issue that could simply have been a first day kink. I like my cheese a little melted, and my cheese slice was not. Had the slice been placed on my burger right after the grill, this would not have been a problem.
Now, as you can see, both of us got sides. I went for the $4 cheesy tots while he got the $3.50 cheese fries. Knowing P.J. Clarke’s, and having done some research on their tater tots, I can assure you that these tots are homemade and not the frozen variety. The “cheesy” quality comes from the Parmesan cheese dusting, the same style you get in the restaurant. Yes, $4 for half dozen tots is expensive, but they’re freaking delicious and some of the best in the city. The cheese fries were a little underwhelming in comparison. They’re still good though the nacho cheese melted and reformed–hopefully another first day kink.
The surprises came in the form of ice cream and condiments. Clarke’s Standard is aiming to be your place to get a burger and shake. They have the regular vanilla, chocolate, and black & white available for shakes–all of which looked thick and decadent. And then there are also small ice cream cups you can get in a half dozen regular flavors and one rotating seasonal, right now it’s Cinnamon Donut. Either way, they’ve got your need for sweet treat covered.
Towards the back of the restaurant is where you chose your fountain soda and your condiments. They have your regular sweet ketchup, plus they also have tomatillo relish, spicy ketchup, brown mustard, and good mayo. As a fan of mixing mayo and spicy ketchup for my fries, I was a big fan of having this many options and the freedom to control my mayo:ketchup ratio.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with Clarke’s Standard. It lived up to the P.J. Clarke’s name and was able to give us a respectable burger on its first day of being open. For those working in Midtown East, it definitely gives a much-needed good burger joint. The one big stickler is the price point as an entire meal will run you over $10.
- It’s P.J. Clarke’s little brother, and P.J. Clarke’s is simply one of the best burgers in the city.
- You don’t have to just get a cheeseburger, you can get fancy pants cheeseburgers for less than $10.
- Burgers. Shakes. Parmesan-dusted homemade tater tots!
- An entire meal is over $10 aka way too expensive for lunch.
- You’re only getting six Parmesan-dusted homemade tater tots for $4!!
- I don’t need fancy pants mustard on a fancy pants burger.
Clarke’s Standard, 636 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street), (212) 838-6000