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Finally got in the door. My first trip ended at the door, a wait to get into a restaurant and bar at capacity. As Zagat says it “takes an act of Congress to get a reservation.” Having lived in Greenwich Village for many, many years, I’ve still been a bit shy about going to Minetta Tavern not wanting to deal with its popularity and the crowds, which are well known. Today is the time to do it and I am in luck once again. All the tables are full but I see two seats at the bar and I grab one in the center. I should have done this a lot sooner, it’s terrific and everyone will fit right in.
Minetta Tavern Experience: Tuesday evening May 21, 2013 I walk into Minetta Tavern about 7:30 P.M. and sit down at the bar. The seating is tight but the other patrons are friendly and everyone makes room. Once again I am fairly sure what I am having, surprise, it might be another burger. Minetta’s reputation as a stellar French Bistro is well known and the menu is terrific. The burgers have a legendary reputation as well, this is what draws me in tonight.
I order a Johnnie Walker Black Label on the rocks from the very friendly and engaging bartender after looking through the menu. The Bartender thinks I am ordering the Minetta Tavern Black Label Burger, the burger for which the Minetta is well known. I tell him I’m still looking at the menu. Of course I will order the Black Label burger but I want to sip my drink a bit.
I order a medium Black Label Burger. This burger is simple: a selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pommes frites. The smaller, and $9 cheaper, Minetta Burger comes with cheddar so I tell the bartender that I’d like to get cheese with that and he says one word “No.” Now the bartender has been very nice and attentive so far, his response was not meant to be admonishing, rather some good advice. I said “but I like cheese” and he again says “No.” Now I am enjoying this and look at him quizzically and he tells me the burger needs nothing, it is deliciuos and best the way it is. I trust him and go without the cheese. The guys dining next to me at the bar hear the exchange, praise the burger and tell me it needs nor wants any cheese.
The scene is lively, moderate sound level and a full, fun crowd. The bar faces the wall with about 15 seats. Seating is close in places but manageable and makes the bar experience enjoyable. Any seat would be good.
My burger arrives and it looks fantastic and perfectly done with a heaping portion of pomme frites. I ask for ketchup, dip a few fries in, then grab my knife and begin to add ketchup to my bun. The bartender spies me and says “you don’t want to put ketchup on that.” I sullenly begin scraping ketchup off the bun while the two guys next to me look on with the bartender approvingly.
Well, they were all right. Take their advice, order the Black Label Burger as is with the caramelized onions. It was great, cooked perfectly, just juicy enough and the meat blend with the onions was missing nothing, one of the best burgers I have ever had.
The scene here is quite entertaining. While sitting at the bar a couple of Investment Banker types came in dropping names to the bartender, names he, myself, nor the others at the bar recognized. I think they were expecting something “extra” but just looked foolish. I had a terrific night without dropping anything except the ketchup from my bun.
The seat next to me opened up during my stay and a guy sits down and quickly orders the Black Label Burger. His burger arrived quickly as did mine and he ate it very fast then left. During our brief conversation I learned he was a chef in a Midtown restaurant and had never had a Minetta burger. I think he was on a spy mission.
Business Travelers: Minetta Tavern is a classic Greenwich Village institution updated into a fantastic French Bistro attracting lively, entertaining and fun crowds. A great way to spend an evening in New York City with with friends, co-workers, clients or colleagues. Reservations are not always easy so plan ahead. The bar seats do turn over fairly well so walking in and eating at the bar is not a bad option. Minetta is worth the cab trip from wherever you may be in New York. Take some time to walk around the area streets (Thompson, Sullivan, MacDougal, W 3rd, W 4th and Bleecker) which some call the heart of Greenwich Village. This area is full of bars, restaurants and an eclectic collection of businesses. Washington Square Park is about a block away. New York’s legendary Blue Note Jazz Club is right around the corner on W 3rd Street. Walk west on Bleecker Street across 6th and 7th Avenues into the West Village and you will find yourself surrounded by high-end shopping. A comfortable place for women traveling on business.
113 MacDougal St
New York, NY 10012