I was finally able to save enough money and splurge on a visit to Sunnyside’s premiere restaurant: White Castle. Located on the corner of 43rd street and Queens Blvd, the gleaming edifice, shining like a beacon to gourmands from around the world, was recently honored in a special issue of the Michelin guide. The guide declared its food and atmosphere so exquisite that it awarded White Castle its first ever five star rating.
Aspiring diners must make a reservation well in advance (as a food reviewer I was able to get special treatment, so my wait was only 4 months, but on average expect at least a year), but those willing to forgo dining inside the castle’s opulent interiors may opt for the drive-thru. But be aware that black tie attire is required even for take-out.
Founded in 1921, White Castle has managed to keep the secret behind its signature sliders hidden to this day. No competitor has ever been able to imitate the cheese-like substance that tops its burgers. But the biggest mystery of all is how they’re able to mold chicken into the shape of a ring.
I give a decisive thumbs up to the $1.39 fish slider. Like in many exclusive French establishments, the portions are small, as it’s all about the quality, not quantity. And yes, for this price you could get a premium cut steak at Peter Lugers, but trust me – I would prefer the bacon cheese slider any day. And at White Castle they definitely don’t nickel and dime the customer – for example, ketchup is available in unlimited quantities. You can just go up to the bin and squeeze out as much as you want. Truly, a king’s feast!
With a focus on natural, organic ingredients, you won’t find any mass produced vegetables or fruits on the menu. In fact, you won’t find any greens at all, because the perfectionist chefs here have yet to find a farm that conforms to their strict standards of quality. The only vegetable that even comes close is the onion, but even with those, White Castle’s master chefs have to deep fry and cover them in bread to make them acceptable for their divine palates. Similarly, the crinkle-cut french fries have to be frozen and aged for at least a month before the potato matures into an edible form.
In addition to the regular menu, the award-winning chefs are always innovating with new dishes that are available only for a limited time. We were lucky enough to enjoy the impeccable shrimp nibblers. Caught by hand right here in the East River, the shrimp are carefully sorted to ensure only the smallest ones ever make it to the diner’s table. The flavor is amplified by a generous breading process that makes the shrimp simply melt in your mouth.
Above you can see our tray after we’ve completed our magical dining experience. The food may be gone, but the memories will live on forever. I hope I will have the privilege of eating at White Castle some day again – perhaps next April Fool’s Day.