5 E. 51st. Street
(Between Madison & 5th)
New York, NY 10022
~ THE 2004 JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION ~
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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THE 2004 JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION
GALLO OF SONOMA AMERICA'S CLASSICS AWARDS
NU (O5/10/04) – Each year The James Beard Foundation Awards presents the Gallo of Sonoma America's Classics to four locally owned and operated regional restaurants that have withstood the test of time and are beloved in their communities. These restaurants are more than likely casual, offer a very distinct menu and atmosphere and are a slice of American culinary history. Following are profiles of each recipient written by members of The James Beard Foundation Restaurant Awards Committee.
New York City
The Prime-Burger, 5 E. 51st St., New York City
PH: 212-759-4729, Owner: Tony DiMiceli
First there was Hamburger Heaven, which, opposite St. Patrick's Cathedral, was the flagship of a long defunct chain of pre-war burger joints immortalized by Truman Capote in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Then there was The Prime-Burger, a family-run offshoot which today recalls a more optimistic age when office workers with few spare dollars and minutes to lavish on lunch could still feel pampered. As an alternative to sitting at the counter, parties-of-one are afforded the grander option of grabbing a box seat along "the track," as those rows of blond-wood, tray-fitted sectionals are known.
As forward-thinking as this seating arrangement was, who could have predicted The Prime-Burger's circa-1965, coffee-shop-modern appeal would not only last through but also reach a new peak in the twenty-first century? Whereas regulars used to beg owner Tony DiMiceli to renovate, now the mere changing of a spent light bulb causes a stir. Among the throwback fixtures maintained by DiMiceli and his sons Michael and John are gentlemanly waiters in white jackets and bow ties, a change maker rather than a cash register, and, best of all, soft, juicy, fresh-tasting hamburgers machine-shaped on the premises with four ounces of prime -- what else? -- meat. The steak fries are cooked to a well-done crisp; the homemade onion rings, just scrumptious.
The coffee-shop fare could fairly be described as reliable: George Davis has worked the broiler since Hamburger Heaven days. At the time of headwaiter Arthur Ward's arrival in 1955, Russell Teal already had several years under his belt as prep man. And Ed Adams has baked his signature apple crumb and sweet potato pies at this address for mort: than half a century. Now there's a relic to -- and with -- relish!
--Dan Young, Restaurant Critic and Author
~ WAY TO GO! ~
POSTCARD FROM TOM
Washington Post food critic Tom Stetsema’s monthly report from the road.
PRIME-BURGER (5 E. 51st St., 212-759-4729)
True to its name, this '60s-era coffee shop across from St. Patrick's Cathedral grills up a first-class hamburger – plump, juicy and a bargain at $3.75. Made from actual prime beef, the sandwich is one of more than two dozen choices, served by veteran waiters at either a mile-long Formica counter or school desk-type seats with swinging tables. Save room for a slice of pie (hope for apple crumb or pumpkin). Sandwiches $2.95-$6.95.
~ Prime Burger ~
5 E. 51st St., 759-4729
Who'd think that a funny old coffee shop would still survive smack-dab in the middle of some of N.Y.C.'s .choicest real estate? This place is directly across from St. Patrick's and a skip from the Valentino boutique. Drop dollars at Saks, then economize here.Sit in their mile-high counter stools nd have real, not pre-fab, hamburgers. Or let one of the waiters sporting: a white jacket and bow tie tuck you into one of their interesting box seats with high chair-like trays. A must-see.
~ THE NEW YORK OBSERVER ~
DECEMBER 26, 1994-JANUARY 2, 1995
Prime Burger, at 5 East 51st Street, is an idiosyncratic New York treasure. Ask to be seated at the one-of-a-kind swivel tables, where what looks like a grade school desk serves as your table. Prime Burger serves hamburgers cooked in an old-fashioned broiler you see as you walk in. The burgers are very good, but ask for your broiled to order because to complete with fast-food chains they’ve taken to pre-cooking burgers. Skip the plump fries to save room for the homemade pies. The sweet potato is excellent, as are the coconut custard and the apple crumb. Prime Burger’s vibe is unusually warm and friendly, and a welcome respite from seasonal sensory overload.
~ The New York Times ~
The Best Bites In Burgertown
By ED LEVINE
Coffee Shop Burger
The $4.50 cheeseburger served at PRIME BURGER is made from four ounces of prime beef, making it both the right size for me and the right price. The patty at this nostalgic favorite is cooked quickly in an industrial-strength broiler, so it stays moist and juicy. You must specify that the burger be cooked to order, though. When the restaurant is busy, the staff parbroils the meat. Opt for crunchy housemade onion rings, instead of the mediocre fries, and save room for dessert. Eddie Adams has been making superlative pies and cakes here for 55 years. At 5 East 51st Street; (212) 759-4729.
~ AMERICAN/HAMBURGERS ~
Address 5 East 51st St. between Madison & 5th Aves.
Transportation E, V to 5th Ave.
Open Mon.-Fri. 5 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-5 p.m.
Accepts Cash only
Reservations Not accepted
The Prime-Burger The Prime-Burger is a relic to relish on the midtown lunchscape. The circa 1965 coffee shop started as an off-shoot of Hamburger Heaven, a pre-War chain of burger joints. When the HH fleet perished, new proprietors redesigned two of the flagship stores and reopened as The Prime-Burger. This, the last surviving locale, opposite St. Patrick's Cathedral, recalls a more optimistic age when urban designers and architects endeavored to satisfy the needs of working people. As an alternative to sitting at the long counter, parties of one have the grander option of occupying one of the 24 box seats collectively known as "the track". Arranged in groupings of six, these large, blond-wood sectionals are divided by wide armrests equipped with highchair-like trays. What fun!
As forward-thinking as this seating-system was, it's doubtful that the designers thought its appeal would not only last through but also reach a new peak in the twenty-first century. Yet the shop's 1960s modernism, with its groovy lamps and mineral-textured dropped ceiling, is in vogue. Whereas both first-time and longstanding customers used to beg owner Tony DiMiceli to renovate, now they plead with him not to. The mere changing of a spent lightbulb causes a stir. Among the throwbacks painstakingly maintained by DiMiceli and his sons Michael and John include gentlemanly waiters in white jackets and bow ties, a change maker rather than a cash register, and soft, juicy, fresh-tasting hamburgers ($3.65) machine-shaped on the premises with 4 oz. Of – what else – prime meat. The steak fries are cooked to a well-done crisp; the homemade onion rings ($2.95), just scrumptious.
The standard coffee shop fare – challah French toast ($2.35 as a breakfast special), say, or golden chicken-in-a-basket with fries ($9.95) – could fairly be described as reliable. George David has worked the broiler since 1954. At the time of headwaiter Arthur Ward's 1955 arrival, Russell Teal already had five years under his belt as prep man. And Ed Adams has baked his signature apple crumb and sweet potato pies (both $2.95) at this address for more than half a century.
~ NEW YORK POST ~
MONDAY, APRIL 10, 1995
NEW Time Warner prez. Richard D. Parsons will get the royal treatment tomorrow at the Plaza when he takes home the Pratt Institute’s 10th Annual Founder's Award. Bill Cosby will pay a rare public tribute, Judy Collins will emcee, and Parsons will get to review 10 different portraits painted of him by Pratt students. Among attendees will be Laurence Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller Jr., and former Whitewater prosecutor Robert Fiske. Despite the distractions and multiple toasts, his attention may be riveted to the dessert. Eddie Adams, who normally makes one lemon meringue pie a day at Parsons' favorite low-key haunt, the Prime Burger on East 52nd Street, is whipping up 80 of the treats for his favorite customer's celebration.
~ THE PROVIDENCE SUNDAY JOURNAL ~
Cheap eats: the burgers are prime
The Dallas Morning News
Dinner at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House can end with one of New York’s priciest tabs, but the ticket The Prime Burger is one of the lowest. And the food makes it one of the best.
This Midtown legend offers one of the cheapest breakfasts anywhere. Pancakes or French toast cost $1.95, add ham, bacon or sausage for a buck.
But the Prime Burger is what this diner is all about. The lean, hand-formed patty is thick enough to be cooked medium-rare. The basic is $3.50. Cheese and bacon make it $5.50.
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