The Dip

They say that, in New York City, the only constant is change. While that may be true, my view is that the only constant is the better the restaurant, the smaller the space. This maxim bears out in the new kid to the East Village, The Dip.

Nestled between residential properties, The Dip asks its potential patrons to dip their bodies downward and into the literal hole in the wall that is this restaurant.

I’m being generous when I say the space can accommodate seven guests at once, maybe eight, if they’re malnourished. And there aren’t any tables, it’s all counter space and you’ll be lucky if you can snag a backless stool in a game of musical stools as customers enter and leave The Dip.

Their spare decor reflects the spare menu. There are five sandwiches to choose from, including a french dip, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, and grilled cheese. You can order a French onion soup, fries, coleslaw, and/or some kind of salad for a side. As there’s no alcohol here, you’ll have to be satisfied with San Pellegrino or a Coke product.

All of this is fine because, small and spare as it may be, The Dip delivers big flavors.

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buttermilk fried chicken sandwich

MDP ordered the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, which is enough for two people to feast on because there appears to be two chicken breasts crammed between the brioche bun halves. Cherry peppers and coleslaw adorn the sandwich, with a smear of mayo to do it justice. When I asked MDP how the sandwich is, he mumbled between bites very good so I’ll take that to mean the sandwich is, in fact, excellent.

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french dip sandwich

I ordered the item to get at The Dip: the french dip sandwich. Delectable shaved steak rests aplenty on a toasted garlic bread roll, with gruyere and cherry peppers to round out the flavors. But the magic is in the deliciously salty au jus and thick, creamy horseradish on the side. Heaven on a foil wrapper.

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fries and coleslaw

We also ordered fries and coleslaw, which were nice addenda to an outstanding meal. The fries rival those of McDonald’s, but are far superior due to their just-right saltiness and crisp exterior. I found the coleslaw to taste fresh and feature just enough mayo without feeling too heavy.

While The Dip’s food is outstanding, it feels like they’re working out the kinks with fulfilling orders as of yet. The hipster-esque dude sitting next to me complained about being “here 15 minutes before [us] and they got their chicken first” to his model girlfriend. She demurred to comment on his chicken situation and went on to regale him about her eyebrow threading ritual as she stood beside him. In the end, he received his chicken sandwich a few minutes after we received our food and heartily consumed the fried chicken itself, but not the bun. Some kind of keto adaptation, I imagine.

Anyway, if you do attempt The Dip, visit on a nice day when you can take your food to go and eat at a nearby park or bench. A table is optimal if you order the french dip, so you have ample ability to, well, dip.

The Dip
58 Saint Marks Place (Between First and Second Aves.)
New York, NY
Take the N to 8th Street or the 6 to Astor Place. Walk east. 

Burger Joint (West Village)

I remember when Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien (LPM) hotel was the best kept secret in town. I used to go there when I was in college. One of my friends was hip to all the next-best burger places in the city, and welcomed me to the wonderful (and then-hidden) world of Burger Joint. Nowadays, when you go to LPM for a burger, you’re destined to meet a long line of hungry patrons and a no-seating situation.

burger joint cheeseburger

cheeseburger

That’s why it’s so very important that Burger Joint has expanded to the West Village. Situated on 8th Street by Macdougal, Burger Joint is easy to miss. Don’t expect a street address or sign reading “Burger Joint” when you go. Just look for the signature burger that’s emblazoned in the front left window.

When I arrived, I almost asked someone if I had, in fact, walked into Burger Joint. But as soon as I saw the cardboard sign in the window displaying the Joint’s hours, I knew I had found the place. You see, at LPM Burger Joint, the menu is listed, in Sharpie, on a slab of cardboard. The no-frills atmosphere of the hotel version–which is a dive, and that’s being generous–is nearly replicated at the 8th Street location. Yet there’s something classy about the dim lighting and secret room and long, skinny booths at the new Burger Joint that elevates it, in a way. (The menu and instructions for how to order your burger are listed on cardboard, by the way.)

So, how was the burger? Divine, as usual. The LPM Burger Joint serves up one of my favorite burgers, and the 8th Street location is definitely among the top contenders for best burger in the city. I ordered mine with “the works”: ketchup, mayo, mustard, tomato, lettuce, sliced pickles, and onion. All this was on a perfectly rendered patty topped with cheese and laid artfully on a squishy bun. Okay, so maybe it’s not artfully done (as you can see in the picture), but the taste is tops–and that’s what’s important, right?

burger joint fries

french fries

And the fries are stellar. Served in a little brown bag, the shoestring french fries were perfectly salted–as in, not overly salted–and crisp. They were full of potato flavor and fantastic.

I love Burger Joint’s no bullshit approach. I like that they wrap the burgers in white butcher paper and hand them to you directly from the kitchen. I like that there are paper plates on the counter in case you need one for your ketchup and fries. I like the cardboard on the walls and windows and the long, empty bar near the entrance. And, most of all, I like that you can get a seat at this Burger Joint. Apparently, NYU students haven’t found it yet.

So, you must try the new Burger Joint. It’s conveniently located just a block or two from the West 4th Street subway station. Washington Square Park is but a few steps away, so even if the students catch on, you can always take your burger to the park.

Burger Joint

33 West 8th Street (by Macdougal)

West Village, NY

Take the A/B/C/D/E/F/M to West 4th Street. Exit by 8th Street and walk a block or two. 

Sarabeth’s

Oh, Sarabeth’s. I’ve wanted to go to you for so long. And I finally did. And I have to say, I have mixed feelings.

sarabeth's lobster roll

lobster roll

When my lady dining partner and I entered Sarabeth’s, we were both struck by the sophisticated atmosphere that the Park Avenue South location exudes: wide open windows, lots of natural day light, an open floor plan with seating in the rear. Because we didn’t have a reservation (for lunch!), we had to sit at the marble countertop bar, which was fine. We parked in a corner spot and chatted for a while, and an accommodating bartender asked us for our drink orders immediately.

I had planned what I was going to order a day in advance: Sarabeth’s lobster roll with coleslaw and housemade potato chips. I like that they say “housemade” instead of “homemade” because, as you may know, I take issue with restaurants claiming their offerings are “homemade” (if they aren’t made in my or your kitchen, they’re simply not homemade). The brioche roll was buttery and the succulent pieces of lobster were perfectly doused in a mayonnaise dressing that delighted the palate. I was pleased with the sandwich. As for the coleslaw, well, it was subpar, in my opinion. But the potato chips definitely made up for the coleslaw–they were well-done and crispy, and had a solid potato flavoring.

sarabeth's turkey burger

turkey burger

My lady dining partner opted for the turkey burger, which was served on a giant bun with guacamole and Sir Kensington ketchup on the side. It also came with limp french fries which were tepid and fair, at best. She found the burger to be juicy and enjoyed its flavor. Much better than Grey Bar’s version, she noted.

For dessert–because at Sarabeth’s, you have to order dessert–we got the cherry crumb pie which was topped with a delicious vanilla ice cream and neatly placed in the center of a large white plate defined by a circle of chocolate-balsamic sauce. While the ice cream was outstanding, the cherry cake left something to be desired. It was sweet and had a nice crust, but it didn’t wow me.

The Park Avenue location is Sarabeth’s latest outpost. I’m happy to see such a restaurant in my work neighborhood, as it offers me a nice place to take a colleague or friend for a special lunch occasion.

sarabeth's cherry crumb pie

cherry crumb pie

All in all, Sarabeth’s is worth visiting, but be sure to bring your credit card or lots of cash–the menu is on the pricey side.

Sarabeth’s

381 Park Avenue South (at 27th Street)

Flatiron/Murray Hill, New York

Take the 6 to 28th Street and walk south one block.