It’s a Wednesday in Midtown, and I’m bored with my usual rotation of lunch options. Time for a new place! Beacon, the restaurant, has been around a long time, of course. Its burger, while it’s $19 on the dinner menu, is rumored to be excellent, thanks to the wood fire used to grill everything. So when Beacon opened Side Door — literally a side door to the right of the main entrance — and offered a $10 lunch special featuring the burger? Yeah, I was there.
For your ten dollars, you can get either a burger — with or without cheddar cheese slices — or Mr. Pink’s Double Dog, two beef dogs on a po’boy roll with parmesan, grilled onions and sweet pepper relish. Maybe next time, Mr. Pink, I’m about the burger today.
No line on this overcast day, so that means I’ll have my food nice and quick, right? Well… they have some kinks to work out. But I’ll explain later.
I ordered the cheddar burger, medium rare, and chose the “Tiger Tea” — why get water or a soda instead of a quart of tea with lime? By the time I had that burger in hand, I also had the Chilled Roast Tomato Salsa soup and the chocolate chip cookies to take back to the office, too.
The burger comes with two slices of cheese, red onion, pickles, and tomato. It’s fairly big, too, more than four ounces by my estimation. And the “onion roll” has thin onion rings baked into the top, just to point out it’s an onion roll.
Ohhhhh, was this tasty. Wonderful char on the outside, perfectly pink inside, still quite warm even after a four block walk back. It tasted as good as anything I’ve made on a grill. No, I take that back. Side Door uses better ground beef than I do. This was a stellar grilled burger.
For $5, this would have been a tasty chilled soup. You’d pay that for a 12-ounce soup in a lot of places in Midtown, and not get something with half the tastiness of this creation. Fairly thick, with diced jalapeño, a little cumin, and what I think was olive oil drizzled lightly on top, the soup had a definite kick to it, but the heat of the jalapeño contrasted nicely to the creaminess and light acidity of the tomato base. Would I buy this? I would, but honestly, not when there’s a burger to eat also. Maybe if there was a smaller food item to pair with it?
The rest of the lunch, featuring a quart of the Tiger Tea (in a reusable container!) and chocolate chip cookies. The cookies (four for $1) tasted like pure Toll House recipe, perfectly solid cookies, thin and crisp, so if you like your homemade cookies that way, you’ll love these. The chips were… chips.
But that Tiger Tea… first off, it’s a quart. Second, the menu says it’s lemonade and iced tea, but there’s a slice of lime floating in it, and it tastes strongly of limeade. And it is tasty. Really tasty. I don’t know how much it is a la carte, but I would buy this daily if it weren’t such a walk from work.
So, about the wait time and service. I placed my order, and as there were no cheddar burgers ready already, the guy working the door went to the kitchen to place my order (and the guy who ordered right after me). He said at the time it would be “three or four minutes”, which yeah, sure, I can wait for that.
After about fifteen minutes, during which time I was kept reassured, and he disappeared periodically to check, he came to me with the tomato soup to try, gratis, while I waited. While I enjoyed that we talked a bit, I praised the soup, and he went back to check again.
I didn’t get my burger for about thirty minutes. Only one other person had ordered during that time. Apparently the cooks in the kitchen haven’t gotten the word that the Side Door has customers. too, as the guy at the side door told me he personally had to put the burgers on the grill eventually. But the burgers arrived, I had a free soup, and I started walking back to the office. About hafway I realized I forgot my tea. Grrr. So I walked back, and he was waiting for me, gave me the tea, apologized as if it was his fault, and offered me the cookies to boot. Um, okay!
All the above would cost $16 normally, which is a bit high for lunch. $10 for a burger, bag of chips and quart of tea? Total win. The wait time? With any luck, that was an anomaly. The food they serve at Side Door is well worth another visit to give them a chance to show me the wait time doesn’t have to be that long. As it was, the service was super friendly and helpful, and of course generous. So I’ll definitely go back later this week — Wednesday and Thursday are good days, he said — and take another chance for that delicious burger.
(Note: I did return the next week for the same cheddar burger, tea and chips. This time, with a burger in the warming oven, I had no wait whatsoever. The burger was more medium than medium-rare, and a bit less hot, but otherwise still tasty and worth my ten dollars. So the wait time this first trip was an anomaly.)
The Side Door @ Beacon
25 W 56th Street
(closer to 5th Avenue than 6th)