The Vincent Burger at Vincent: “Adieu, Adieu to you and you and you”

Vincent Burger

2015 marks the “death of fine dining” in the Twin Cities, following the closing of two of its classic gems, La Belle Vie and Vincent. Culinary excellence has surpassed the elegance of white tablecloths and jacket-required dress codes. Our high-end dining options are just more accessible. I’m obviously a burger dude, but I love a fancy-schmancy meal, and when La Belle Vie closed, I got sad even though I’d never been there, but rather because now I never would. So when Vincent announced its imminent closure at the end of the year, I vowed to put its legendary burger on Burger Fetish in memoriam.

But first I had to eat one, so I got the crew together, and freaked them out when I told them where we were going. We eyed the dining room through the windows wondering how much we’d stand out, then walked in and got a booth in the still-classy-but-not-so-stuffy bar area. It was their late night happy hour and we ordered a few extremely reasonably priced drinks, shared an order of poutine, and got a round of Vincent Burgers.

Chef Vincent Francoual moved to Minnesota from New York–where he spent time at four-star fine dining French restaurants Le Bernadin and Lespinasse–in 1997, but hails originally from France where he began his culinary career at age 15. In 2001 he opened Vincent A Restaurant on Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis, which was well-received off the bat. But in 2009 he introduced a burger that paid homage to both Daniel Boulud’s uber-decadent db Burger and Minneapolis’ own Juicy Lucy.

Vincent Burger cross sectionAt first glance, you’ve got a fairly standard California-style: lettuce, tomato, and raw onion with a special sauce that a finger-swipe confirms is actually a pretty standard special sauce: ketchup, mayo, pickles. The burger is grilled–with a very elegant quarter-turn crosshatched grill marks–which as we all know dries out the meat a bit but delivers a really excellent flame-licked taste, served on an eggy squishy also-grilled bun. But the star of the show is hidden from view. It’s stuffed with smoked gouda and braised short ribs, and it’s delicious. The short ribs are barely-holding-together tender and full of amazing flavor, and the gouda is just delightful and rich and goes toe-to-toe with the short rib. The California toppings and special sauce give it an air of familiarity, but the stuffing really drives the point home that you’re eating something special.

Following Vincent’s closure, chef Francoual will be moving on to a position as Cara Irish Pubs‘ Culinary Director. Luckily for us, they’re bringing the Vincent Burger to all of the locations, but before it becomes an Irish pub staple, I’m just gonna insist you get one at its original home while you still can. You’ve got two weeks from my publication date until Vincent closes, folks. Go on happy hour when the burger’s only $8. Go bid farewell to Twin Cities fine dining by eating the lowest-brow thing on the menu. But go and fucking love it for being damn tasty.

Ahem. Announcement time.

No post next week because I’m heading to New York City! I’m joining my family to celebrate Christmas, and I’m using it as an excuse to take a week off of work to eat as much as I can, but it somehow feels like it still won’t be enough. It would behoove you to follow me on the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr because I’ll be eating an unhealthy amount of burgers at as many damn places as I can, chronicling my travels on the various social medias. Of course, I’ll be giving a full round-up right here on the Burger Fetish main event, but that’ll be the next entry in about two weeks. ‘Til then, you can all drool over pictures from the road.

The Ten In the Pit at Memory Lanes: “Obviously, you’re not a golfer.”

Memory Lanes 10 in the Pit

“That burger’s such a pain in the ass,” Andy tells me. “I started frying the pickles and onions when I saw you walk in.”

Full disclosure: my buddy Andy cooks at Memory Lanes, told me about this hulking behemoth, and promised to make it with a lot of love if I came and ate it. I paid for it like I usually do, and he in no way attempted to sway my analysis of it.

Memory Lanes is a bowling alley in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood. It’s been around for ages, formerly known as Stardust Lanes, but they drum up attention with their annual Memorial Day block party, and weekly Monday night punk shows. Also, you can go there to bowl, which is awesome. But their food mostly goes unnoticed.

I brought the crew, enticing them with bowling, but for me the game and the very nature of my surroundings were afterthoughts, as evinced by my score (81 in one game, and I wasn’t paying attention in the other…but low). I was there for the “10 in the Pit.”

“10 in the Pit” refers to the bowling situation where collision physics work in your favor in a manner that not only knocks all the pins down, but pushes them all off the lane into the abyss behind. It’s a strike that’s better than a strike. It also refers to a burger with fried pickles, fried onions, bacon, barbecue sauce, and in lieu of a bun, two grilled cheese sandwiches.

“It’s like a 10-step process,” Andy says. “You have to fry the veggies while you grill the burger and make two grilled cheese sandwiches at the same time. It’s so fucking annoying.”

Memory Lanes 10 in the pit xcGotta say, grilling the patty dried it out. I ordered it medium rare and it ended up a dry medium. The four slices of bread didn’t help on the moisture either. Ciabatta is a weird choice for the bread; I would have preferred a simple soft Wonder-like bread. As it is, the grilled cheese buns had a density that I wouldn’t be mad about on their own, but didn’t end up squishy enough to function as a bun. In addition, the sandwiches didn’t end up getting very toasted and buttery at all. The cheese melted, but there wasn’t enough of it to contribute a smooth, creaminess to the overall experience, which I expected to be a lot gooier. The barbecue sauce did a lot of the heavy lifting flavor-wise and kept the whole thing moist, which was much appreciated. The fried pickles were–surprise!–pickled green tomatoes, which added an awesome unexpected crunch along with acidity, and while they and the onions couldn’t stay crisp in the face of the barbecue sauce, the mealy sauce-laden batter ended up texturally delightful. The bacon was well-cooked and crisp and smoky.

No one orders the 10 in the Pit expecting culinary genius. You do it for the decadence. I got it for the Instagrammability, but ended up really enjoying it. It’s well-conceived. The dryness of the grilled cheese carried the burger well, and the flavor mostly comes from barbecue sauce, which was great. It’s texturally interesting, the flavors are balanced. If anything, it doesn’t push the envelope far enough to be that ultimate hedonistic this-is-why-you’re-fat gluttonous foodporn.

“We all hate making it. I hope it comes off the menu,” Andy says. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The Thai Superstar at Blackbird: Thai one on

Blackbird Thai Superstar

Being sick is the fucking worst.

My nose is stuffed up, my throat is sore, and I have a headache. I have a routine that involves zinc and pho and constant hydration and peeing all the time, followed by giving up and eating whatever I want because I can only care about my health for so long before the siren song of the burger is too alluring to resist.

Mmmmmmmmm.

In 2007, husband-wife team Chris Stevens and Gail Mollner opened the upscale casual Blackbird Cafe in the Southwest Minneapolis’ Lynnhurst neighborhood, only to lose it to a fire in February 2010. It only seemed a minor setback, though, as they were able to quickly reopen in November of the same year at 38th & Nicollet, and have been going strong since. They have a widely diverse menu with small plates, sandwiches, entrees, and snacks with modern American, Italian, and Asian influences throughout their scratch house-made comfort food. The dining room has just as varied of decor as the menu, with a hodgepodge of thrift store finds, a collection of antlers, and a spinning disco ball. It was one of the first chef-driven restaurants to open on South Nicollet, paving the way for places like last week’s Nighthawks and longtime favorite, Revival.

Blackbird postcardBut they seemed to have mysteriously omitted a burger from their menu, so they were off my radar until I caught word that they correct this egregious error on Tuesdays, serving fancy chef’d up burgers once a week. I hollered at Teresa and she picked my sick ass up.

If I hadn’t been sick, I’d take full advantage of their ridiculously-priced $12 pitchers of one of my favorite local everyday go-to brews, Surly Hell, as part of their Tuesday night Burgers & Beer special, but I had to refrain in the interest of I hate being sick.

They had three options: the Brian Wilson–avocado, grilled pickled red onion, romaine & special sauce, the Thai Superstar–braised oyster mushrooms, grilled tomato nam prik & Kewpie mayo, and the Pineapple Express–grilled tomatillo salsa, pineapple, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño & smoked paprika aioli. Teresa failed to disclose that she’d already eaten dinner and only wanted dessert, but I convinced her to split an order of their chicken lemongrass potstickers in a ginger garlic broth. The broth alone was incredibly salty but balanced the succulent dumplings supremely, giving a full-bodied flavor that coated my mouth in a stocky richness. But it meant I only got to try one of the burgers. But I now pretty much have to go back for more. Which is a total win-win because it was delicious.

The Thai Superstar had me at “Kewpie mayo”. Or “Oyster Mushrooms”. Or “Roasted Tomato”. Ah, hell, it was the entire stack of Umami-laden toppings. Braising the mushrooms removes the chewiness you get from the usual cooking methods, creating tenderness that didn’t dominate the texture, and brings out a fantastic subdued earthy flavor. Nam prik is Thai for “hot sauce” in the same sense that any “hot sauce” isn’t easily defined, but in Blackbird’s iteration it’s a Thai-inflected pico de gallo with–I’m mostly guessing, here–roasted tomato, cilantro, lime, chilis and fish sauce. It fills a lot of roles in this burger: acid, mostly, but the cilantro pops freshness, and I wouldn’t call it spicy, but it spikes a mild heat every so often that doesn’t linger. It’s fucking delicious and I’d try it on anything. There isn’t a better mayo than Kewpie. It does the heavy lifting of American mayo–that whipped fatty creaminess–but it’s smoother and less eggy, and it’s got MSG! Blackbird really slathers it on, and it balances and completes this burger. The toasted house-made bun is squishy and buttery and crisp around the edges. Damn near everything I’m looking for in a bun.

Blackbird Thai Superstar - InteriorLest we forget the patty, which was a perfectly pink medium rare, but rather lacking in sear. Most places that aren’t necessarily burger-centric but put a lot of craft into their burgers have a flat-top griddle cranked the fuck up to sear the shit out of their beef on contact, and Blackbird isn’t one of those places. I’m not mad about it! Sure, I love a sear, but the patty was certainly well-cooked, well-seasoned, and a tasty burger that stands on its own. It’s complete and well-thought-out. There’s unique masterly-executed flavors here. And no cheese! I think it’s the first Burger Fetish entry with no cheese. And I’m still not mad about it!

And this is what Burger Fetish is all about. If I were eating similar permutations of the same damn burger over and over, we’d all be getting bored. Great burgers don’t need to adhere to some mythological standard. They just have to be great.

All three burgers are $10 each and come as-is. They seem to rotate the variations periodically without warning, but I doubt they’d sell a burger that didn’t meet their quality standards or match their unique compositions.

It didn’t cure my cold, though.

Double Cheeseburger at Nighthawks: “You Look Smashing, Darling.”

Nighthawks CheeseburgerAfter a long-ass day cooking for other people, the last thing I want to do is cook for myself. A solid half of my shifts I don’t end up eating because I’m tired, I don’t want to cook anymore, and slapping together a crappy meal for myself feels like a waste of time when I mostly want to get the fuck out of there. But late night dining options in Minneapolis are often lacking. Yeah, there’s diners, taquerias, pizza shops, and typical bar food for post-10pm noshing, and I’m definitely not knocking the stupid-tasty late-night options, but sometimes more than a midnight sandwich, I want a damn good meal.

And sometimes you get the best of both worlds, and sometimes that’s a burger.

I got off work around 10 on Friday and headed straight to Madeleine’s for a beer before biking to Minneapolis’ poppingest restaurant corridor, South Nicollet. Home to Blackbird, Kyatchi, Hola Arepa, Ramen Kazama–its newest entry, and of course, Revival, Nicollet Avenue is leading the wave of chef-driven comfort food.

Chef-owner Landon Schoenefeld loves fucking with the traditional, cheffing things up at Haute Dish by twisting cuisine into chimeric concoctions that are simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, like his take Tater Tot Hot Dish and General Tso Sweetbreads. He’s actually behind a bunch of burgers around town from stints at many, many restaurants over the years. I’ve already covered the Haute Dish burger, his outstanding take on a California style. At Nighthawks, opened spring of this year, Schoenefeld takes an approach perpendicular to that of Haute Dish, using advanced technique and months of research to craft excellent consistent versions of standard diner fare.

Madeleine got a single patty and I got a double ($10 and $15, respectively). It comes with potato salad or coleslaw, or you can upgrade to french fries for $2…which I did!

At my request, we got seats at the kitchen bar, overlooking their diner-style open kitchen because even after a long day of it, I still love cooking so much I have to watch other people do it, and I really wanted to see the magic technique behind this burger. Conventional wisdom dictates that smashing a patty is strictly verboten because it squeezes the fat out, losing that all-important juiciness. But smashing a patty maximizes contact with a griddle to attain an excellent fucking sear. BUT at Nighthawks, we watched the cook masterfully smash the patty within seconds of contact with the griddle, guaranteeing an imperial sear without moisture loss because the fat hasn’t had a chance to melt yet. After a couple of minutes, she flipped the patty, but absolutely did not smash again because at that point the now-liquid fat would squeeze out. I’ve heard about this method, but it was a pleasure to observe.

I don’t know if I enjoy actual burger geekery itself as much as I enjoy geeking out over burgers. And I don’t actually know if there’s a difference.

The patty didn’t have as ungodly of a sear as its older brother at Haute Dish, but it was as supremely seared as you get by conventional methods. It was well-seasoned, damn near verging on being oversalted, with a very strong black pepper flavor. Smashed burgers naturally end up on the more done side of medium-well, but what was missing in pink juiciness was more than made up for in retained fat and a fucked up amount of cheese. American cheese enveloped each patty in goopiness that rolled off onto the griddle for a touch of literal grilled cheesiness around the edges. Topped with freshly grilled red onions, giving it a sweet just-fried-enough outside with a still-firm crispy center. Pickles–acid, tasty, wonderful, and thankfully not too sweet paired with the onions. I’m never going to stop talking about how fantastic pickles are, and they make–and their absence breaks–a damn good burger. And a very tasty burger sauce, featuring all of the standard burger toppings blendered along with–according to my sources–a bit of bun and patty. It’s saucy, tangy, and what else would you want on a burger but more burger? The bun was a perfect squishy and it went by mostly unnoticed, just how I like.

You know when there’s, like, two overcooked fries in your McDonald’s fry sleeve, and they’re crispier and browner and have a deeper flavor? Nighthawks managed to capture that fry and figured out how to make a full order of them. They’re glorious and well-seasoned, and oh so crispy.

Double-patty American Cheese burgers are a hot trend, with David Chang claiming it’s the only way to do it, there’s enough of them in the Twin Cities to do a burger crawl (and they missed a few), and it’s reached the point where places are actually trying not to make them. It makes a great burger without too much fuss, though getting fussy with ’em pays off, like at Nighthawks. I’ll admit that overanalyzing burgers as I do leaves me wanting more variety and I seek out burgers that don’t just pile on the American, but it’s a treat to go back and eat damn good straight-up cheeseburger that’s trying really hard to be a damn good straight-up cheeseburger.

The Cheeseburger at Tongue In Cheek: “Movin’ On Up to the East Side”

Tongue in Cheek CheeseburgerWhen an affluent turn-of-the-century — a term that’s bothered me since we turned yet another one — neighborhood loses the industry that built it, it has a tendency to go downhill rather quickly. The Twin Cities have an absolute grip of areas that tanked in the 1970’s, due in part to interstate construction, factory closings, and disgustingly erroneous placement of Kmarts. Both cities are working to turn empty storefronts into businesses, and get white people hard-working higher-income earners moved back in. You might call it gentrification, but in my opinion, it’s an overall positive to attempt to build communities where higher- and lower-income earners live alongside each other, serving one another’s needs. It’s a utopian pipe dream, but anything’s better than letting neighborhoods go to shit, tearing them down and building condos.

The Payne Phalen neighborhood in St. Paul’s east side is undergoing such a revitalization, starting in recent years with the opening of a handful of upscale chef-driven casual restaurants like Ward 6, Cook St. Paul, and today’s burger provider in question, Tongue In Cheek. They’re comfy neighborhood joints that are attracting attention from all over the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro thanks to the quality of cuisine everyone’s come to expect from any contributor to our local food scene.

Tongue in Cheek opened in 2014 with not just a focus, but a commitment to only using animals raised in humane, sustainable ways. Chef Leonard Anderson worked for several years at fine dining restaurant Aquavit in Minneapolis under James Beard award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson before it closed. He moved on to W.A. Frost for a few years where he met General Manager Ryan Huseby, and together they opened Tongue In Cheek, along with Chef Anderson’s wife, Ashleigh Newman.

They close at 10, and I met up with Madeleine and her crew around 9 o’clock, but everyone didn’t make it until 9:30, making us “that guy”. Working as a cook, you naturally hate “that guy”; he’s the reason you aren’t leaving early. But after many years of hating “that guy,” you give up. Your shop’s got posted hours and you can’t be mad that people want your damn food so damn much that they rush over to get in before you close. I stopped worrying about being “that guy” a while ago when I stopped hating “that guy”.

We split some appetizers and got a burger. I was a bit thrown off by the cherry tomatoes and burrata. I expected a big lump of mozzarella wrapped around creamier mozzarella, but they left out the outer shell in favor of a creamy ass mozz spread. Regardless it was a damn tasty twist on a caprese. The pork rillettes was also creamy, but made of pork, which is one of the greatest concepts in the history of food. You basically confit pork until it’s the most tender pork can possibly be, then you chop it all up — fat included — into a paste and then serve it on toast and allow the foodgasm to unfold naturally. This version included a solid amount of latin flavors for a tex-mex take on the traditional spread. Unfortunately, both of these apps have since departed from their seasonal menu, but they indicate fantastic things for the menu at large.

In any case, Burger Fetish is about burgers, and Tongue In Cheek has a good one, which I knew before I had my first bite. There were only a handful of guests at that late hour, but all of them appeared to be there for the same thing, as we watched trays of burgers arrive at each table while we waited for our dining companions, increasing anticipation, and we weren’t disappointed. The patty was cooked medium to order, and tasted a bit dry. If you’re a longtime reader, you may recall my entry from last week describing the values and drawbacks of grilled burgers, and moisture loss is an unfortunate side-effect that was apparent here, though the grill provided a great flavor, and the patty was well-seasoned. A simple lettuce was placed in the proper location between the bottom bun and the patty, but a heartier green wouldn’t have wilted. A young cheddar didn’t kill the beef flavor with too much sharpness. Aioli worked spectacularly as a simple fatty sauce with just enough garlic, keeping things just smooth enough, and the bun well-moistened. Speaking of the bun, it was grilled, giving a distinct toastiness you can only get on a grill, though it was just a bit too bready. The real clincher was some quick-pickled cucumbers for a spectacular acid crisp. Sure, parts of it weren’t perfect but it came together nicely, with elements balancing each other well, uniting like Voltron to make a very tasty burger.

It’s $12 and comes with fries, and you can get it with a fried egg for $14 (total. The egg does not cost $14). Fries were tasty, a battery crunchiness, soft inside, tossed in herbs and salt. They accompanied the burger well.

It was a good night out. The space is very chill, and our crew had a nice time. Payne Phalen is well on the way to being one of the Cities’ top eating destinations, and Tongue In Cheek is a huge part of that. Driving through the neighborhood, it looks like there’s a lot of work to be done, but it feels more like opportunity than despair. I can’t wait to eat all the burgers that are sure to come from that part of town. And, I guess, other food they might make there. I don’t know.

The Halloween Whopper at Burger King: “The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors”

Burger King Halloween WhopperBecause I fucking had to, that’s why.

In September 2014, pictures surfaced online of a Japanese Burger King Whopper variation with a black bun, black cheese and a black sauce, called Kuro, which is Japanese for — no shit! — black. The bun and cheese are tinted with bamboo charcoal, and the sauce is made from squid ink. To add to the blackness, the patty apparently had a ludicrous amount of black pepper mixed into it. Everyone stateside had a good laugh about silly Asians and what’ll-they-come-up-with-next?! until late September 2015 when Burger King announced they’d be selling a black bun Whopper in the US for Halloween season, and America shared a collective gasp.

Of course, Americans wouldn’t dare to stomach a sauce made with squid ink, so they went with an Uncle Sam-approved alternative: A1 Sauce. It’s baked into the bun and sauces the burger in lieu of ketchup (the mayo’s still there, too), but the whopper is otherwise unchanged: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, standard Whopper patty, and American cheese — the usual yellow kind.

I had to have one. So I went and got one.

It was…a Whopper. [shrug].

The A1 sauce added a hint of extra tanginess, and was unnoticeable in the piece of bun I tore off to taste; it just tasted like bun. Otherwise, it was a Whopper. [shrug].

Which is not to say it’s without its merits, most notably the “Flame Broiled” process, or “Fire Grilled” as they’ve rebranded their cooking method to highlight the fact that they don’t griddle their burgers like damn near everyone else. To date, I haven’t eaten a grilled burger for Burger Fetish. Flat tops have an advantage of creating that sear I can’t stop talking about, and they keep a patty juicier, but grilling creates a unique taste at the sacrifice of moisture. When your patty heats up, its fat melts and drips out. When the fat hits the heat source (whether charcoal or gas, the effect is the same), it causes a small flare-up to jump up and lick the patty, giving a tiny char. You don’t want too much fat to drip out at once, causing too much flare and too much char, giving it an overcooked bitter burnt taste. But a tiny amount of fat dripping at irregular intervals causes just the proper amount of char, and a smoky flavor that cannot be achieved on a griddle. Fat loss, of course, is an integral part of this phenomenon, but that’s your trade-off.

These are the things I think about. [shrug]. Welcome to Burger Fetish.

One of the cold comforts of fast food is that you can walk into any Burger King anywhere in the world and a Whopper’s going to taste exactly the same. Besides some minor A1 flavor notes, this remains true of the Halloween Whopper, which is good, but not noteworthy. Perhaps this was intentional; the visual interference of a black-colored bun is disorienting enough without the Whopper tasting vastly different. I love Whoppers. I always have, and I loved this one, too, but for the same reasons I’ve always loved Whoppers. It’s good, it’s weird-looking, but at the end of the day, it’s pretty much a Whopper.

And, because you asked*, it turned my poop green.

___

*no, of course you didn’t ask, but I really wanted you to know.

The Cease and Desist & The Blucy at Blue Door Pub: a Hooker with a Heart of Gold

Blue Door Cease & DesistHands down, the coolest fucking thing in Minneapolis* is the Midtown Greenway, a bike trail on an old train route spanning the entire city that I can take all the way from my place in the Whittier neighborhood to the Mississippi River in less than half an hour. Then, it’s just a quick ride across the bridge to St. Paul, a suburb of Minneapolis.

Calm down, everyone, I’m kidding. Jeez.

I used to live in St. Paul, I love St. Paul, and I don’t get back there nearly enough. I don’t have a car, I live and work in Minneapolis, and I’m usually tired when I’m not working. If nothing else, Burger Fetish is going to bring me across the river to eat some fucking St. Paul burgers, starting with that one, up there.

Madeleine was in St. Paul and I took the magical Greenway to meet her at the Blue Door Pub in the Merriam Park neighborhood. They opened in 2008 in the old location of shuttered Puerto Rican restaurant Puerta Azul and named it in translated homage to its former occupant, slinging sexied-up pub grub. Apps are all fried everything: ten flavors of wings, battered green beans, cheese curds, zucchini fries, a variety of loaded tater tots, and muhfuggin Spam bites — spam, pickles, and cream cheese breaded in a panko & potato chip crust. And — oh! — burgers. And — oh my! — lots of burgers.

I’ll reserve the disputed history and proper spelling of the Juicy Lucy for a future post, but the crucial information is this: the cheese is on the inside of the patty. Construction involves making two very thin patties, sandwiching a piece of cheese between them, and pinching the edges shut. You griddle this epiphany, cooking the meat and melting the cheese, serving the masterpiece on a bun with your choice of hopefully corresponding toppings and sauces, and put the cardiologist on speed dial.

The Blue Door’s contribution to the Juicy Lucy conversation is the Blucy, of which they have 11 varieties on the menu, and a rotating special, ranging from basic (the Classic: a patty stuffed with white American cheese) to the not-fucking-around (the Bangkok Blucy: a patty stuffed with coconut-soaked mozzarella topped with pickled ginger served with a side of curry sauce). After my recent case of the blah-blahs, I needed an ooey-gooey cheeseburger with a capital CHEESE, and Blue Door knew exactly how to hit that spot: the Cease and Desist.

They take a patty stuffed with White American and diced pickles, then they top it with standard yellow American and grilled onions, shredded iceberg lettuce, and “‘Merican sauce”. Let’s not split hairs: they’re going for the flavor profile of a Big Mac here, and they kill it. Our burgers came flying out of the kitchen bafflingly fast, but upon further inspection the speed was consistent with quality of the patty. They must be using a hell-hot griddle to cook the patties for a couple minutes a side, achieving a crusty sear without making the molten cheese tongue-murdering lava-like. The American on top was a great mix-up to the mouthfeel, giving cheesiness on cheesiness enveloping the patty in the traditional sense while the stuffed cheese is good and melty in a way that stays creamy and oozy and, hell, cheesy. The pickles added acidity, and worked remarkably well with the molten cheese inside the patty, not skimping on heating them up in the usual fashion by putting them on top of the meat for residual heat. ‘Merican sauce was what you’d expect: some combo of mayo and ketchup for tangy sauciness. Add lettuce for crunch, onions for sweetness, and I loved it so much that I got another.

What? I was hungry, and we didn’t get any of the aforementioned apps. I got some hand-cut fries with my first burger, which were okay. Kinda chewy, not so much crispy, a tad overseasoned — I typically complain the reverse, but it happens — but nothing to write home about. And when Madeleine didn’t get her own fries, I should have guessed she’d eat half of them. Plus, I don’t know when I’m going back here, so fuck it: two burgers, punks!

My stupid phone died, so Madeleine came to the rescue and took this picture with her phone.

For round two, I got the eponymous Blucy, a straight-up patty stuffed with blue cheese and garlic on a bun, no toppings. Blue cheese pairs stupid-great with beef, and of course garlic goes great with everything. I put a little ketchup on the side for dipping. This time, the methodology revealed itself. The cheese was oozing out of the cracked patty, confirming my suspicion the grill must be hot as fuck, which can work great, but once seared, expansion and contraction continue, and the crust can strain. I wasn’t mad, though; It was well-seasoned and Lucys start falling apart at first bite anyhow. I really only brought it up to show how smart I am.

So, two stuffed burgers that I dug the shit out of, and a bunch more on the menu means I’ll definitely be back. They opened a second location in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood (whew!) in 2013, offering a few burgers exclusive to each location, which means even more burgers to eat without having to cross the river into Shelbyville.

I’m just kidding again, St. Paulians. Get over yourselves.

_____

*I reserve my right to hyperbole. Also, please note that I consider the “coolest fucking thing” in Minneapolis an easy way to bike to St. Paul.