There’s no way a stand-alone restaurant could continue to operate in such prime real estate as the northwest corner of the New York Times building without turning out a fair bit of business, which means the food can’t be bad, or even mediocre really, because a fair bit of business, by definition, requires a fair number of repeat customers. Convenience and traffic from the adjacent Port Authority, be damned.
I had a Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen experience a few months back and it was — meh. A green chile cheeseburger ($8.99) that smacked of Tex-Mex and overwhelmed the patty that was way too well done. Needless to say, as this blog can attest, I’ve avoided their expensive burgers (six of eight fall in the $6.99 – $9.75 range) since.
Today, almost out of desperation (that’s another story), I decided to give it another go. I think I finally get it. I think I learned how to eat at Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen:
1. Don’t go. Stay. It might be counter-intuitive to the lunch “hour” most anyone I know doesn’t take, but a burger and fries are two foods that just do not transport, even if you’re carrying them yourself.
There is no re-solidifying cheese allowed. Let’s not even talk about the fries that got soggy from their own hotness inside the paper bag/takeout container. Stay. Eat. Schnipper’s does a good burger, and even better fries, but you’re wasting the experience if you wait to eat. (Plus, you miss out on the cute circular tray and Schnipper’s retro-styled paper lining.)
2. Stick with the basics. Their other burgers are probably improved from eating on site also, but there’s something about a classic cheeseburger, that I shelled out a *mere* $5.99 for, that tastes so much better than the $8.99 green chile burger. Hmm. Might have been the fries ($2.75).
3. Insist — as in repeat — your desired burger done-ness. Do I eat bad beef? Try not to. You say you have good (decent) beef? Okay I want it cooked medium-rare.
I look at my receipt and I do not see “medium rare” explicitly listed out, as in, after the toppings somewhere. So I reconfirmed that I want my burger medium rare, and the cashier smiles at me and says, “It doesn’t show up on your receipt, but it shows up on the one for the cooks.”
“Great, thanks,” I say. Guess what. Burger showed up medium rare.
4. Schnipper’s for happy hour? Yes! Hear me out. They have a half-dozen really decent beers priced at $5.50 / 16 oz.; 12 oz. PBR cans $3; suddenly after 5 o’clock Schnipper’s menu prices come within range, cheap even, compared to bar snacks or other like options, and there’s a gigantic outdoor seating area from which to watch the sun set over the Port Authority. … seriously, I think this guy’s got the right idea. (You can always move inside.)
*TIP: There are a bunch of other menu options, most of which are priced out of my lunchtime budget but might make an excellent early dinner: two fish tacos, $8.99; grilled four cheese with bacon, $8.99; chopped market salad with chicken, $11.99.