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Circuit Court New York

Trailer Park
271 W. 23rd Street/8th Avenue
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A question for you reader-eaters: What's worse than going somewhere lame? After dining at Trailer Park, I've found the answer: being the only person to think it's lame. Folks, I've been on the bench long enough to have witnessed countless perjuries, but Trailer Park is a real sham, and believe you me, deserves the maximum sentence. Life in solitary, if I had my way.

Sign out front.Now, in my experience, restaurants are set up so that you can go in, eat some füd, and if lucky, have a little fun in the process. Yet, there's a sinister, persistent pattern of restaurants that try and force-feed you their unique ideas of "fun," usually more than you can stomach. Ever paid to be slapped around by an Ed Debevic's waiter? Ever see a Benihana chef twirl his knife, cut himself and then bleed on your steak? (I have. It was awfully sad, but the steak was tasty.) Did David Lee Roth's old codpiece make your meal at the Hard Rock Café? Fun, huh? If I remember correctly, the last time restaurant fun was served was at my 11th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, and I think that was only because I got all the G.I Joe's I had asked for. It sure wasn't the animatronic rat.

Trailer Park is oddly situated in Chelsea, around the corner from testosterone-packed Big Cup coffeehouse and Rawhide bar. This area has plenty of quality, somewhat fancy restaurants (Chelsea Bistro, Bottino, Monster Sushi, 18th and 8th) many of which have some offshoot fusion cuisine, or things that require garnish of some sort. I should have known from the brand-new retro sign not to walk in. Once inside, my dinner buddy Katie and I were assaulted by the mish-mosh of kitch, camp, crap, and irony. Ooh look: a bamboo-lined bar, old country LP's on the wall, a clothesline strung up with funny slogan t-shirts and...BJ and the Bear? Ha! I loved that show! Basically, it was filled with everything you can buy at the "vintage" shops near St. Mark's Place.

Boigah.Given the décor, you'd think Trailer Park would have gone all out with the menu. But no such luck. No Pork Rinds, Frito Pie, Twinkies or our beloved corn dogs -- that actually might have changed things for me. But instead, just burgers, hot dogs, mac and cheese and chili. I ordered a burger with grilled onions, fries and coke.

We sat. And waited. And watched the trashily-uniformed waitresses make their way through the crisp, fabulous, tucked-in lower Park Avenue advertising crowd, all laughs and smiles, beers and high-fives and action-packed. How were they having so much fun? What the hell is wrong with me? Should I have watched Joe Dirt? We waited some more.

Who's happy? I noticed the pretty girls. Katie noticed the cute boys. We looked around at them noticing each other. And no one noticed us. And after thirty minutes, my burger came, already cold. It sucked. Big and juicy looking, but really just wet and tasteless, and not even worth the measly $6.95. Grilled onions usually make for a great burger. Unless you can tell that they had been grilled 13 hours before. I also have the feeling that the seasoned fries would've been delicious, had they not already formed a sticky mess at the bottom of the plate. And that's when it finally dawned on me: This wasn't about the füd at all. Trailer Park is just a bad sitcom: The joke was on me and I wasn't even looking for one. Not fun at all.

Postscript: Okay, so I've heard from other people that the chili is pretty good, as is the mac and cheese (despite being described as "Fiskar's orange-colored"). Katie liked her burger well enough, but it certainly wasn't anything to seek out. Really though, don't waste time or money eating here. There's a Boston Market, a BBQ, and Subway nearby that'll do the trick for the same or less money. Drink if you want. From the looks of it, you'd probably get lucky. Well, luckier than me.


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