Existence moves through the 4th dimension; C2H5OH through arteries and veins. These two phenomena coincide with regularity on the weekend, but rarely are there observers interested—and sober—enough to take note. Compelled by the urge to be a little more “quanty,” Bwog’s award winning team of (social) scientists decided to conduct field work at a nearby food distribution center that the locals refer to as, “Tom’s.” We were to maintain a strict policy of non-interference—observation only—for a period of 12 hours, 8 pm till 8 am. Results follow.
We know you’ve been waiting a long time for Bwog to finally weigh in on the “newcomer.” But really, the question of the best burger in Morningside is so much more complex than a petty squabble between Five Guys and Mel’s. Thus, we’ve taken our time to really get our shit together. Burgers are complicated. They need context. Our own Ladies who Lunch (read: none of this “vegetarian” bullshit), Sylvie Krekow, Lily Icangelo, and Katheryn Thayer delved into depths of Morningside’s Burger circuit, chomping their way through serious pattyage (aided by not insignificant amounts of liquid courage) to bring you this comprehensive guide.
|Criterion||Five Guys||The Heights||Mels||M2M||Tom’s|
|Quality of Burger||A-||A-||B||B||F|
|Gettin’ Your Drank On||N/A||A||B||N/A||N/A|
The Heights: This $9 burger is well worth braving the notorious bouncer Anna for, especially if you’re saving on the happy hour $4 margaritas. It was remarked of their classic burger “this could have just come off a barbecue at a friend’s house.” It’s a good honest option: the meat is juicy, the cheese is real, the bun is toasted, and Grey Poupon is on the table. The Heights burger was our hands-down meaty thickness winner, and, for the classic burger lover, a clear win.
Mels: You burger aficionado, you! If you’re the type who will wait 45 minutes for a $12 burger cooked to order with premium ingredients, well, we have to question why you are drinking at Mel’s, but this is your spot for a drunken burger. We sampled “The Broadway”, a spicy, smokey masterpiece, served on rye with jalepenos and top-notch bacon. The meatiness was decent (a little on the dry side), but the intensity of the bacon undeniably offset any disappointment in the beef department. The problem with this burger, aside from price and wait time, is that it doesn’t satisfy that primal burger urge—just look at that miserable excuse for a bun. Overall, the burger disappointed. It was in no way greasy, and being strict adherents to the “classic burger” school of drunken burger analysis, reviewers had little to say besides, “was there cheese?” There was, but most likely not enough for any one’s satisfaction.
The Health Department is, as of this summer, requiring that every restaurant in New York display the letter grades they most recently received for cleanliness.
This is a nightmare for everyone; it’s rare that any restaurant will sneak away with no health violations. The grades will be assigned during the next year, when the Health Department conducts its next rounds of inspections. The grades will be issued as follows: 0-13 points gets an A, 14-27 a B, and 28 and above a C. You know, like Calc II. This numbered rating system, however, is due to be made more lenient (after all, who cares about burned-out lightbulbs?) before the letter grades are assigned so the correlation between numbers and letters isn’t accurate just yet.
In the meantime, that Health Department has created a website that lists the violations of every restaurant in the city after their most recent inspection. The results from Morningside are occasionally surprising (Hewitt/John Jay) and generally terrifying (there are mice everywhere). Here’s a list of the most popular Columbia restaurants and bars. We note when they were most recently reviewed and pick their most notable violations. Individual links don’t work, but if you want to go through every single one of them, go here for 10025 and here for 10027 and start clicking. These restaurants will probably maybe get their shit together in the next year so that they don’t get big old fat B’s in the window once the next round of inspections starts. We can but pray.
- As of February 23rd, Deluxe, blissfully, has a mere 5 points for its plumbing (which a friend of Bwog’s may be partially accountable for, as she got her pregnancy test stuck in the toilet. Whoops!) Mill Korean has 2 points for plumbing.
- Brownie’s, you are angelic. 0 points as of last September.
- Vareli and Maoz each have 2 points, Maoz because it does not have an “immersion basket.” Noobs!
- As of January, Koronet has a dazzling, sparkling 4 points for plumbing. The Heights also has 4 for mysterious pesticide use as of January.
- Law School’s Lenfest has 7 for bad toilets as of last November.
- Cafe East also has 7 as of May for improper cold food storage.
- Cafe 212 has 8 for inadequate lighting improper “non-food contact surface” construction. So, phew. Last inspected last September.
- As of last August, Symposium has only 5 points, even though the food sometimes tastes like it has been bathed in chlorine.
- After a rough 62 violations in June 2009, Campo bounces back with 4.
- Strokos has 9 violations as of January, one for cold food behind held above 41 ºF.
- Carleton Lounge in Mudd has 9 as of last December for evidence of mice.
- As of January, Dinosaur BBQ has 10 for bizarre internal food cooling/heating measures.
- Ferris Booth gets 12 as of last December for improper cold food storage.
- Lion’s Head gets 11 as of last February. “Evidence of mice or live mice.” Now it begins, friends.
- Thai Market has 14 as of March, for improper cleaning.
- As of May, Uris gets 14 for improper food surface cleaning.
- JTS: 15, for evidence of mice as of February.
- The Diana Cafeteria gets 14 as of April for improper cold food storage and undated or expired milk.
- Heartbreak: M2M gets 15 as of July, for evidence of mice, improper cleaning, “evidence of flying insects” and “inadequate personal cleanliness.”
- Butler Cafe got 18 in March for the thermometer rule and improper cold food storage.
- As of June 4th, Ollie’s also gets 15 for cold food held above 41 ºF and evidence of mice.
- La Negrita, or 999, or whatever, has 15 as of July 8th, but no mice!
- As of June, Taqueria has 17 points (coulda been worse) for cold food held above 41 ºF but no vermin!
- John Jay Dining Hall, the would-be mother of them all, got 18 last July for evidence of mice, rats and flying insects.
- As of last September, Columbia Cottage has 21 points for cold food storage and some weird problem with a thermometer.
- Le Monde was last inspected in April, and got 21 points for spoiled food. Fun fact: Bwog once found a caterpillar in our salad at Le Monde, but they were very nice about it.
- Cannon’s, which the Health Department spells “Gannon’s” gets 21 for improper handwashing, a bad bathroom, etc. Last inspected in March.
- Max Soha has 23 points as of January for mice, flying insects and improper food surface cleaning.
- Kitchenette got 23 last December for roaches and improper cold food storage.
- Some actually shocking news: Hewitt has 5 more points than John Jay, clocking in at 23 as of March, for food unprotected from contamination, improper thawing procedures, and improper lighting.
- Roti Roll, or “Roti Rill” according to the Department, gets a 25 (still not a C, right!) for flying insects and improper cold food storage. Inspected in July.
- Tom’s, last inspected in September 2009, gets 21 for the weird thermometer problem and improper cold food storage.
- Vine, inspected in March, stores neither hot nor cold food correctly, and gets a 22.
- As of March, Nussbaum has 23: evidence of mice.
- Faculty House, fanciest place in the 100-27, gets 25 for evidence of mice and improper storage or usage of sanitized equipment as of March.
- Havana Central has evidence of mice and spoiled food as of March; 24 points.
- Inspected in January, 1020 shocks and awes with 22 points for improper handwashing facility/toilet area.
- Hungarian: 22 points for evidence of mice and rats as of January.
- We knew Pinkberry was made of weird animals. Well, psych, but it is apparently made of unpasteurized milk, earning it a whopping 30 points.
More listings, while we’re at it: in the Princeton Review 2011 college listings, Columbia was listed as being in a “great college town.” Unclear if that’s Morningside Heights or New York, but you make your own guesstimate. The Princeton Review also ranked the Top 20 best college newspapers. Guess who’s missing?
Update: And we almost forgot Pinnacle—21 points as of February, for evidence of mice, milk improperly dated/expired.
| “French fries in a bowl,” circa 2006
The Wikipedia Collection
The smell of old grease wafting from Morningside’s finer college-grade establishments is irresistible in this indecisive weather. But which one to pick? The musty, fast-paced oil of HamDel? The old-fashioned, touristy lard of Tom’s? Or, the sushi-soba mix of M2M? In this installment of “The Rest of the Best of,” Bwog analyzes the gluttonous offerings of the area.
They’re classic, they’re expected, they’re from your home town. Tom’s McDonald’s-style fries are a pleasant American yellow, and once you’ve slipped a few into your mouth, it’s an easy, nostalgic ride. The fries are thin, well-salted, and horrifyingly greasy. The puddle left at the bottom of the dish at the end of our nutrient-deprived meal is more guilt-inducing than the threat of impending finals. They’re far from gourmet, but you’ve known that taste since you were born, and they’ve been served at diners across America. Rely on them for a quick, lazy, 3:00 AM fix.
How many restaurants can you say birthed the greatest intro sequence to a television show, spawned the digital music revolution and has the most expensive french fries since the Potato Famine? According to Suzanne Vega in the Times, Barnard ’82 and folk singer, Tom’s is more than just a refuge for overpriced appetizers. Apparently, she wrote a song about how great it was that she got half-full cups of coffee and then some British producers really liked it, so they looped it up and made this dance hit (below), which is remarkably different from the original. The original, because it was a single voice singing a capella, was so warm that the creators of the MP3 in the early
2000s 1990s thought that it would make a fantastic test subject. When Vega heard the MP3 version, she decided that she still liked the vinyl better, much to the chagrin of the engineers whose blood, sweat and tears created the music format that would make Napster and all of its subsequent legal troubles possible. Hurrah Morningside Heights!
In the midst all this heart-breaking excitement about John McCain, we were reminded to check in (as we do from time to time) with his daughter Meghan, CC ’07. Today Meghan answered 11 questions for MSNBC, in which she revealed her love for HamDel and her father’s love for Tom’s. Tom’s.
“Q: Your dad is coming to Columbia this week to appear with Barack Obama for a Service Nation event. Since you went to Columbia, where are you looking forward to taking your dad around your old stomping ground?
A: The Hamilton Deli, it’s where I used to eat every meal. I also really love Tom’s. That was my dad’s favorite thing about Columbia — that it was by Tom’s Restaurant. He used to tell everyone, ‘Meghan and I ate at the Seinfeld restaurant!’ He could have taken me to Nobu, but we went to the Seinfeld restaurant (laughs).”
Oh and then she makes some joke about wanting to drink with Obama at the Heights, but Obama not wanting to. In conclusion, none of this will make you feel any better about being denied entrance to The Non-Partisan Service Spectacular of 2008.