I went to New York in 2008 with a buddy of mine to get a taste of what the Big Apple was really like. Literally. I searched Google, a couple weeks before arriving, for food I'd like to try. But I missed this one.
We were in the burrows of Martin Luther King Street in Harlem in the midst of conducting my travel ritual - finding and buying exclusive shoes at different stores - when Kirk spots a White Castle. A White Castle! If Harold and Kumar didn't get your mouth watering eating 35 White Castle sliders, there is something wrong with you. We don't have White Castle in Calgary, and even though I felt VERY uncomfortable being in a place where I potentially could get robbed, I decide "When in Rome...".
Walking into the restaurant was alot like walking into a train station to validate your tickets. The walls were bare white, other than the plexi-glass protected White Castle adverts on the walls. A cluster of Plain white and blue tables with stools bolted to the floor. And the best part - the counter was sealed in bullet-proof glass with a small speaker and "doggy-door" looking opening to slide in your money and recieve your order. That alone was a valid reason why I should be worried walking around with 3 bags of shoes in Harlem.
If that weren't enough, an old guy colorfully deck out in Enyce gear, with either his daughter or jailbait girlfriend, stormed to the counter, banging on the window yelling "YO! WHERE YA NAPKINS AT?!"
We place our orders through the window and sat down on our carefully picked, cold, hard seats. Sack Meal 4 - 20 sliders with 4 large fries. Needless to say, I won't be coming back to this location. The burgers were too greasy and ill prepared, the buns were soggy, the fries were both greasy AND soggy. And my coke tasted like I filled it up half way with coke, then filled it to the top with water and ice.
Here are some tesimonials from Yelp on my iTouch:
"Okay, I had to try a White Castle in Harlem. It was everything I expected, customers cursing at the staff, people getting frustrated by the wait and of course the bullet proof windows between the staff and customers kept me giddy for my little burgers. The burgers were greasy and the fries were salty. What else do you want me to write?"
"I was in Harlem yesterday, and I thought, I ain't never had a White Castle Burger before, I guess I'll go and try one (or four). I got in there and the experience was totally complete. The registers were covered in glass to prevent robberies, the soda machine was shut off ("so the crazies don't come in here with a plastic bag and fill it up" according to the register) and the really friendly lady at the next table chatted with us about the neighborhood (while dealing drugs) Can't say I didn't experience the real Harlem.
As for the food, exactly what I expected: greasy, tasty, and just a tiny bit questionable. The sliders were greasy heaven in a box (though any more than four would probably make me throw up) and the fries with honey mustard was a good flavor combination. As was expected, one of my friends found a hair in one of her sliders, and I bit into something slightly fishy from my fry box when I wasn't paying attention. All in all, it was a trip I will not soon forget, a true Harlem experience."
"Seriously, the only way I can get those burgers are the frozen family packs I get at the supermarket. But it just taste so much greasier and better when you get them from here, even though I feel like I'm going to get shanked here. I will never come here at night, no matter how hungry I am."