This past Monday night, we learned another of Marshall Eriksen's endearing quirks: he's been bedeviled (as is Regis Philbin, it turns out) by a cosmically good burger he had eight years ago, somewhere in Manhattan. The problem is, he forgot where.
It was a fun episode -- particularly if you're a New Yorker. Because unlike so many sitcoms, this is a show that quite often gets it right. Sure, Ted and Marshall live in an apartment that would be a castle by NYC standards; but at least it's not Monica and Rachel's a-little-too-nice Greenwich Village pad on Friends or Paul and Jamie's inexplicably huge flat on Mad About You. Besides, Ted and Marshall's place can't be made too small -- because as How I Met Your Mother's executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas reminded me when I visited them on the set last year while reporting for CBS Watch magazine, the cameras, after all, do have to fit!
In particular, Monday's episode, "The Best Burger in New York," got it right on several fronts. We New Yorkers do bemoan the loss of the real Upper West Side stalwart bar Fez, at 85th & Broadway. (And yes, every available retail space does seem to have turned into a Goliath bank lately -- although possibly that trend is over as of this week!) And, Carter and Craig had told me, they personally mourn the recent real-life loss of Midtown pub McHale's at 47th Street & 8th Avenue; it's one of the inspirations for Maclaren's bar on the show, and was where the two guys first started writing comedy together over a beer, as they took breaks from their MTV internship during college. And finally, there's the fun moment where Marshall goes ballistic on a guy who haplessly suggests the West Village bar The Corner Bistro -- the stereotypical answer to the question "Where can you get the best burger...," even though it's tiny and always packed (and I've never had the patience to wait for a table.)
By the way, just in case you are about to visit New York and want to, like Marshall,go on a quest, here's what you have to do: go to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. But do it soon -- it will close for the season in early December.
A very close second: somewhere new Frank and I just discovered, a place called Five Napkin Burger at 47th Street and Ninth Avenue. It's run by the owners of UWS favorite Nice Matin, and let me just say that the classic, titular burger, with its caramelized onions, soft Boursin-like French cheese and rosemary aioli, is so good that, like Barney, I want to make burger babies with it.
This week's episode not only made me laugh, but it made me hungry -- and now I'm passing it forward. Feel free to blame me at your Weight Watchers meeting.
How I Met Your Mother
Mondays at 8:30 PM Eastern