Stayin’ dry at Juicy Lucy’s

Gimmicks don’t appeal to me at all…well…most of the time. I mean, we’ve all fallen for the con at least once in our lives. Hell, in my naivete I bought a set of tile cleaning products “as seen on TV” that claimed almost miraculous restoration to 50-year-old grout. The only cleaning occurred when a few of my brain cells were erased from the toxic fumes. I’ve never seen a gimmick work like it claimed…not once, but I still fall for them from time to time.

Last week I convinced John to try Juicy Lucy’s, the fairly new hamburger joint on N. Carrollton Ave. I’d tried a stuffed hamburger (that was also deep fried) before at the now-shuttered McGuire’s Sports Bar in the Warehouse District, but it was only a fair experience. Yet here was a shop that was wholly devoted to the stuffed-burger phenomenon, a place that had likely perfected the technique. Plus, they had already opened a second location in Metairie, so they must be doing something right…right?

We chose to sit out front and watched the traffic roll by on Canal Street while we sipped on LA-31 Bière Pâle‘s poured into chilled, thick glass goblets. It threatened to rain, but the overcast sky was perfect for picture-taking, so we decided to risk it. Our appetizer of fried mushrooms came out before we finished half of our beers. They were hot, crispy and quite juicy, only slightly cooled by the spicy, signature “Juicy” sauce. Simple but tasty, we gobbled them down just as our burgers arrived.

John ordered the “Juicy Mid City” stuffed with sharp cheddar cheese and applewood smoked bacon and a large serving of French fries on the side. I opted for the “Juicy of the Day” which turned out to be a “True Brees” stuffed with mac & cheese and applewood bacon. Instead of fries, I opted for the onion rings. Truth be told, both burgers were rather dry (I prefer mine medium) and the bacon in both of ours was not cooked all the way and kind of rubbery. The onion rings were beautifully thick and crisply fried, but whomever seasoned the batter got a bit slap-happy with the salt. I love salt, but those rings were just too much for me.

We were going to attempt dessert, but our server (who I thought might be an owner), said all they offered was a brownie that wasn’t very good, “I ain’t gonna serve you that” he stated resolutely. Well, I’d go back for the mushrooms and might chance the onion rings again, but there are too many other great burger joints in this town to settle for one that’s just so-so. If only Lucy was Juicier…

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Burger perfection at GB’s Patio Bar & Grill

Everyone in New Orleans has a favorite burger joint.  A friend of mine loves the hand-formed burgers and sweet potato fries at Beachcorner Bar & Grill on Canal Street and another touts the overstuffed baked potatoes and heady Monsoons at Port of Call in the Quarter, but my burger of choice is lovingly made at GB’s Patio Bar & Grill.  Located on Maple Street on the river-side of Carrollton Avenue in the Riverbend, GB’s is an unassuming, neighborhood restaurant with a welcoming patio dining area replete with fans or space heaters, as the weather dictates and a small staff that remembers your face and treats everyone like an old friend.  John and I were in the mood for a leisurely burger in a comfortable atmosphere and GB’s always fits the bill.  I am down a grand total of 42 pounds and this is my 13th cheat.

As soon as we sat down, our waiter smiled at us from across the brick-lined patio dining area filed with large iron tables and chairs.  He greeted us with menus in hand and took our order of drinks.  As many times as I have been to GB’s, I have never ordered an appetizer, we always go straight for the burger. But, in the spirit of indulgence, we decided to try the Spinach and Artichoke dip in addition to two 6 oz. cheese burgers cooked medium rare and served with a side of French fries.  GB’s offers other great sides like a baked potato with lots of extras or a small salad, but I was in the mood for fries.

The dip came out in a timely fashion, piping hot and smelling delicious.  It was served with crispy, warm tortilla chips and we gobbled the cheesy concoction down in short order.  I’ve had tons of Spinach and Artichoke dips before and this one was really quite good.  Initially, I had wanted the potato skins, but John overruled me by choosing the dip and I was not disappointed.

After a comfortable interval, our burgers arrived cooked to order with a large pile of freshly grated cheddar cheese atop the perfectly grilled meat.  Fresh toppings like a thick, juicy slice of tomato, some pickles, red onion and shredded lettuce were included on each plate and all of the tables are conveniently equipped with various condiments including mayonnaise and ketchup.  I once asked our waiter why the burgers at GB’s are so tasty and he explained that the owner hand-grinds the sirloin and uses his own combination of spices and sauces to create perfection on a bun.

We always enjoy the juicy burgers at GB’s but I can rarely walk away from their homemade cakes.  Craving chocolate (as usual) we ordered a slice of German Chocolate Cake.  We were served a huge slice, but had no difficulty devouring the moist, rich, chocolate cake with creamy, coconut-laden frosting.  As usual, it was absolutely delicious.

Walking away from the restaurant, we were pleased that we had another wonderfully satisfying cheat and comforted knowing a great neighborhood bar (conveniently in our neighborhood) was still offering an affordable and tasty meal in a relaxing courtyard patio just blocks away.  Perhaps next week we should range further from home, but it’s nice to taste the familiar from time to time and neither of us could think of a better place for the perfect burger but GB’s Patio Bar & Grill.