Friday, September 25, 2009

The Ear Inn

We met family friends for dinner last night at a historic dive in SoHo called The Ear Inn (pictured above1). Last week, I had seen a Guardian article on the "50 best things to eat in the world"; number three on that list was the burger at a New York City restaurant called Little Owl. George, an old friend of my parents, enjoys a good burger, so I invited him to join us. It turned out that Little Owl doesn't offer burgers for dinner, so George suggested the Ear Inn. An old man, he enjoys visiting old places. His son Jimmy joined us.

The family loves meat: Jimmy mentioned he was taking a charcuterie class at the French Culinary Institute in town. He wants to learn how to age his own steaks. He made an interesting point about burgers -- an obvious one, in hindsight, but an interesting one nonetheless: places that cook all their burgers well done (e.g., Five Guys, In-and-Out Burger, etc.) ought to be considered in a separate category from restaurants where you can get burgers cooked to order. That's a distinction Matt and I didn't make when we listed our top five burger places2. Jimmy also noted how difficult it is for restaurants to do something seemingly so simple: consistently cook a burger to order. I mentioned that celebrity chef Bobby Flay's Burger Palace doesn't seem to be able to do this. His stated M.O. is to cook the burgers medium but you have good odds of getting your burger bloody or overcooked instead. The Ear Inn cooked our medium burgers the way we ordered them. Good burger, but no fries: there's no fryer in the cramped kitchen.

1The writing on the wall in the photo, next to the arrow, says that the blue line represents the water's edge of the island as it was in 1766.

2Matt's been too busy to post regularly on his eating blog, thanks in part to Launching Innovation, but if he reads this post, he'll have another two burger places to check out when the dust settles.


Anonymous said...

The Ear Inn used to be a favorite place of mine in NYC. They are more known for their chili (and mussels). They also had a very smooth Guiness.

I recommend you go there on a cold night. Drink guiness, eat chili and eat mussels; strange combination but it works.

DaveinHackensack said...

Jimmy ordered a Guinness, and his father ordered the mussels. I had a Boddingtons ale -- something new (for me) that was on tap. I'd get it again. Does seem like this would be a cozy place on a cold night though. Last night was pleasant, so there were folks drinking outside on the sidewalk. Apparently, they have some grandfather clause where you can stand on the sidewalk in front of the Ear Inn and drink.