Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dear Evil Discussor... Eisenberg's vs. Shake Shack. Whose side are you on?

Seems that the kind, gentle, paper cap-wearing, line-cooking souls at Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop are pouring a hot bucketful of lard on the greasy grilltop that is the NYC Burger Wars. (Alright, fine, that analogy makes very little sense. Plus, I'm not even sure there are NYC burger wars really. I was just trying to make it sound all sensational. But anyways, just go with me here.) Just recently, out in front of the venerable, glorious, old-New York coffee shop, a handwritten sign was leaned up against the window, saying:

"Hey! Why not grab something to go so you can eat in the park and watch people stand on line for an hour waiting to get something to eat."

Funny? Okay. Grammatically correct? Kind of. Incendiary? Hell yes. It's a fucking proclamation of war. Food War. And you best take cover. Now, Eisenberg's is obviously, not so subtly, referring to the Shake Shack, Madison Square Park's outdoor burger and fries stand at which right now, as we speak, and at any time of day or night, teeming masses of people stand in line, waiting impatiently for a tantalizing mouthful of burg. And which most likely siphons some business off of Eisenberg's daily tally. Clearly, Eisenberg's is not so happy about such things. And are doing what any business in the free market would do. Proclaiming bloody fucking war. Word war, yes, but still, it's war I tell you. A war that just might go down as the nastiest war ever fought, using strictly handwritten signage as weapon, between two places that serve food, in and around the corner of 23rd and 5th, in the month of July. Or maybe not. Maybe it's just a single handwritten sign, a single lob of a grenade, that will flare out and smolder, barely doing any damage, forgotten forever, and that'll be that.

But still. Maybe its fucking war! That would be more fun, wouldn't it? Maybe it'll even be remembered in the distant future as "The 23rd Street-5th Avenue Flatiron-Area Madison-Square-Park-District Horrible Burger War Of '06!" Or better yet, even just "The Horrible War." And, trust me, this is not just a war about foodstuffs. No. This is much bigger than that. This is a war of Old-World vs. Newbie. Of Indoor Dining vs. Al Frescoliciousness. Of Cockroach vs. Rat. And, yes, of Melamine vs. Cardboard.

Eisenberg's, and their handwritten sign, or, as I've taken to calling it, their initial provocation of bloody burger war, is very clear in message. Their handy advice is that you should go to Eisenberg's, buy food, take it out, bring it to the Shake Shack, sit facing the people in line, and in front of all of the hungry sad foodless faces, fill your own face with food, while cackling maniacally like a crazy homeless person. And that's fine. Actually, its a pretty novel idea. And might be kind of a fun thing to do one afternoon. If anyone is up for it this Saturday, please do let me know. But where they lose me, is in their subtly sly read-between-the-lines suggestion that they are a better alternative to Shake Shack. This is a problem, see, when you take into account the fact that Eisenberg's is, in fact, not a better alternative to Shake Shack. And barely even an alternative at all. Yes, I suppose they do both serve food. But when one wants to go to the Shake Shack, it is generally because one wants to eat a hamburger, no?

Now, look at these two hamburgers. The first, from Shake Shack. The second, from Eisenberg's. Which burger do you prefer?

Now wait. Take your time. And really think this over. Look at these burgers closely. Examine them. Really take a good look. Notice, if you will, that there's something not quite right here. Something's amiss. Do you know what that is? That's right. You guessed it. One of these burgers is not a burger. It's a fucking tuna salad sandwich. What Eisenberg's is known for. Supposedly the best tuna in town. And granted, I'm sure it is a great tuna salad sandwich (I wouldn't know, because, obviously, tuna salad is for the ladies), but that doesn't change the fact that it is definitely not a burger. It is similar to a burger in that it's something you hold between two pieces of bread and bring up to your mouth, instead of leaving on your plate, and cutting with a knife and fork. But that is what is known as a sandwich. Not a burger. And I know what you're thinking. Yes, Eisenberg's now does serve a burger. It's advertised in its windows as The Eisen Burger. Admittedly, very clever. And probably very tasty too. But again, I wouldn't know. I haven't had it. Know why? Cause the Shake Shack is right up the street.

Which maybe might bring me to my point finally. It's not like the Shake Shack needs any more support. Certainly not my evil support. But sometimes hype is hyped for a hyping hyped reason. The Shake Shack has a most delicious burger. A meat cookie beyond compare. A burger that is so good, you might want to, for some reason, wear white gloves when eating it. (pictured) As if you were a white-glove doorman, opening the doorway to your belly, so that the precious burger may enter. It's that good. Twenty-million line-standing assholes cannot be wrong. Shake Shack, however, does not have a delicious fried egg sandwich in the morning. Or hot coffee. Or hot pastrami. Or open face tuna melt. Or chicken noodle soup. Or can of sardines. Or chopped chicken liver. Or salami and eggs. Or egg cream. Or all sorts of other delicious and halfways-archaic diner offerings. For those things, I would most certainly head to the king of the classic NY diners. And rest assured, sweet House of Eisenstein, if the Shake Shack started making tuna melts, I would pass them right by, and come see you, I swear it. If I liked tuna, that is. But, when I want a burger? I'm gonna shake my way all the way down to the Shack, hombre. And that is likely the gayest thing I've ever said. Especially, the "hombre" part.

Listen, even if I were to want a burger at Eisenberg's, the place closes at 5PM on weekdays and 4PM on weekends. Whatthefuck how'sthat? Not really prime burger-wolfing hours, no.

I do love love you though Eisenberg's. And you know it hurts me to say these cruel things. I love you with all of my luncheonette-loving heart. I want to have your little luncheonette babies. But when it comes to wanting a burger, please don't get between me and my meat. That sounded weird, but I think you catch my drift. I'm sorry, but history be damned. Venerable institutions be screwed. I'll take the deliciously juicey homemade-edy goodness of a Shake Shack burger, the magical allure of sucking it back out under a clear night's stars, in the very middle of Manahatta, staring into my lovely lover's eyes, wiping grease off of her chin with the hairy back of my hand, any day, over the possibility of maybe having a somewhat decent burger in the confines of your sweetly sweaty coffee shop, between the hours of 7 and 4 daily of course. I'm not afraid to say it. Call me a slave to the over-hyped, overly-written up, overly-lined up, overly-crowded, critic's darling, trend crazy, fad happy, horrible culinary ways of New York City, if that's what you must call me. But also, call me after you get in the Shake Shack line and you're close to the front, would you? That way I won't have to wait too long.

Oh yeah. And I wish you wouldn't use the term on line when what you really mean to be saying is in line, Eisenbergians. I've told you before how I feel about that.



Blogger concha said...

saturday. let's go. i'm down.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Evil Discussor said...

Okay. Call me. Use your Evil Phone.

5:41 PM  
Blogger concha said...

this deserves a gawker link, i think.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Evil Discussor said...

you must tell the gawkers to gawk my ass then. they must bring my message to the people.

10:20 AM  
Blogger concha said...

alright. i told 'em. it's in their hands now.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post officially takes the cake (burger, I should say) as ED's longest post ever. Longer than "Are you becoming less funny?" Hats off to you, Evil D.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Maulleigh said...

I just did a Jack Tripper-esque spit take and now there's tuna fish all over my computer screen. How could they fool me for years about the tuna burger thing? You're a real Morley Schaeffer with the in-depth reporting.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ever try the Eisenberger? How does it compare?

8:25 PM  

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