No Smoking in the Kitchen Area
In fact, the Kitchen Area as well as the Dining Area had both been non-smoking for years, but the antique warning remained above the well-seasoned grills of the galley for every customer to see. Little indications like this really tell you how out-of-time this coffeehouse restaurant was.
Soup Burg itself was an antique along Madison Avenue. It stood out like a sore thumb on a well-manicured hand of painted fingernails and bejewelled knuckles.
Over the years many may have stumbled upon it while visiting the Whitney Museum of American Art. That's how my friend Catherine and I had come across it. The Whitney's in-building café -- the perfect picture of modernity -- left something to be desired so we had ambled down a block or two to find burgers at reasonable price at the Burg. This was much more along the lines of what we were looking for; a $15 club sandwich in a museum basement was not.
And it was at that point we saw the real sign -- the sign which read that tomorrow Soup Burg would close its doors forever on Madison. I was tempted to run back to find a curator. If he couldn't restore this relic and permit people to continue to enjoys its charms in the future, at least he could pass along a few ideas for the sake of the Whitney café.
Soup Burg was truly a rare portrait of unpretentiousness along the avenue. Its mustard, a deliciously dark and malted concoction, was strictly self-service at your table. The waiter, who eventually resigned himself to posing for a photo on what was his last weekend on the job, politely smiled when taking our order. But he wouldn't ask how you'd like your burger cooked and how you'd like your burger dressed. Instead, he would just take down an order number. And that was enough. Which is great. By perfecting their kitchen craft -- and not by serving plates that are made to order -- Soup Burg had been making the third best burgers in the city (according to Time Out NY).
The home-made iced tea at Soup Burg was unsweetened and fresh daily. It was fantastic and refreshing -- refreshing because it was a hot day but also refreshing because it wasn't the ubiquitous canned Nestea. Downing two glasses of it made for the best swan song Soup Burg could muster on this particular Saturday and we pulled ourselves back up the block to the Whitney.
SOUP BURG 922 Madison Avenue (73rd Street); the branch at 1095 Lexington Avenue (77th Street) is open.