Tuesday, February 19, 2013

That's One Juicy Lucy!

So, if you ever end up on a business trip to Minneapolis, this is the first place you should go when you get off the plane. The 5-8 Club has been around since 1928, and is the area's iconic "Dive Bar" - that is also home to the burger that should be featured on the city's flag. There is an apparent debate about where the Juicy Lucy was invented- at the 5-8 or at neighboring rival "Matt's Bar" - but personally, I don't care, I just wanted one. 5-8 was on my way and only minutes from the airport, so there I went.

The setting is unassuming- it's a bar with a dining room- seat yourself, and the waitress will come talk to you soon enough. My waitress was actually very nice, and even went so far as to suggest that I should get grilled onions on my Juicy Lucy- which was a great call. Once upon a time, I tried to make my own Juicy Lucy at home- it was good, but I knew it was nowhere near the original, so I couldn't wait to try the real thing.

The Juicy Lucy looks unassuming from the outside. IT looks like just another burger on a good quality soft roll. This burger doesn't have all the "salad" adornments that most burgers seem to have these days- just a burger on a bun, a few pickle slices, and glob of grilled onions. The fries were pretty good- fresh potato, fried to just the right crispness and enough salt to make itself known without being obnoxious. Yes, the burger looks dull and boring on the outside, but looks can be deceiving...

One bite and you'll understand. The burger is formed around a generous pile of american cheese. When the burger cooks, the cheese melts, and melds together with all the juices from the meat until it turns into something akin to hot lava. The well-seared crust on the outside, the nuclear-hot melted cheese, and those carmelized onions all add up to a decadent, artery-clogging flavor experience you just can't get anywhere else.

Eat carefully- on each bite, the cheese will continue to ooze out. I gave myself no less than three minor cheese burns- each of them worth it. The cheese and beef-juice mixture flows like lava- it's a messy experience, in a good way. The burger just tastes damn good, and has this lava-like core, that forces you to slow down and enjoy it- or risk personal injury.

So most people seem to think it's a bad idea to visit Minneapolis in February, if only because it's very cold, and very snowy. As you can see, though, February is Juicy Lucy month at the 5-8 - so there's a great reason to make the trip.

A dive bar treat like a Juicy Lucy can only go with a Dive Bar beer. I did this old-school style- and avoided the great microbrews and complex ales- instead I opted for an old standby- a Rolling Rock- yes, I traveled all the way to Minneapolis to have a beer from Pennsylvania. Rolling Rock has a very mild flavor, and a watery consistency- but it's great to wash down hot food with. While it's short on flavor it can be refreshing on a hot day (yes, I know, it's Minnesota in the winter)- or to soothe flesh scalded by oozing, nuclear-hot cheese.

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