"Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler was playing as I entered Clarke's Standard on Lexington. The offshoot of P.J. Clarke's is less pubby than expected and more like fast food meets 50s diner. It is just the latest salvo in New York's ongoing burger wars led by Shake Shack. And compete it does.
First off the place is immaculate. Diners sit at sharing tables with butcher block tops. Vintage photos adorn the walls. The space is light and airy, and the service is friendly.
To order, simply step up to the counter, pick your favorite and wait for your name to be called. I went with "The Standard." What arrived was a perfect 100% Angus beef patty, thick and juicy, and medium rare just as I ordered. There was a layer of melted American cheese, butter lettuce and tomato served on a St. Joseph roll. It was accompanied by a side of crispy sweet potato waffle fries. All for under ten bucks.
Bu there's a lot more to be found at Clarke's Standard. In fact, there are six different types of burgers including one topped with charred green chilies and another called the "Brooklyn Au Poivre" with a pepper sauce, gouda and savory onions. You will also find four types of grilled hot dogs. Aside from chili, cheese and kraut, there's also a Banh Mi Dog topped with shredded carrot, cucumber and cilantro with a sriracha mayo.
Clarke's also offers a house-made veggy burger and a buffalo chicken sandwich made with organic chicken, a sweet slaw and bleu cheese dressing. Shoe string fries, cheesy tater tots and Butcher'd Chili round out the sides. As an added bonus - beer - Pacifico is on tap along with one other brand.
And if none of that satisfies you there is always ice cream. Salted caramel, wild strawberry and malted milk chocolate are just a few of the flavors. They're also making milk shakes. And while Shake Shack may have some newfound competition, New Yorkers are better off it!