Tag Archives: burger

The Nook (St Paul, Minnesota)

Last week’s schedule had me flying to the Twin Cities to give a guest lecture at the University of Minnesota (anyone want a lecture on radioisotope power supplies for space exploration?), and my flight arrived at lunchtime, so I decided to check out one of the area’s better-regarded Jucy Lucy joints; the Nook. First of all, some background for those not familiar, a “Jucy Lucy” is a hamburger with a layer of cheese crimped between two patties. Done right, it’s a nice combination of cheese, crispiness, and juice, albeit with more than a bit of a hazard of hot cheese burns on one’s lips. As you can read over on my review of another Twin Cities stalwart, Matt’s Bar, there’s always the perennial question of who makes the best Jucy Lucy in the Twin Cities. When I lived in the Twin Cities, there were always two places that claimed supremacy and had their followers, the abovementioned Matt’s Bar, and the 5-8 Club located a few miles south on Cedar Ave. But since I left the cities in 2001, the Jucy Lucy phenomenon has spread greatly, with over a dozen places selling them (and the trend is even national, I noticed a “Juicy Lucy” is on the menu at Richard Blais’ place now). The Nook is a relative newcomer to the Jucy Lucy scene in the Twin Cities, opening in 2000, but in the last few years, their Nookie Burger (their variant of the venerable Jucy Lucy) is now frequently mentioned in Jucy Lucy supremacy discussions, so I figured it was worth dropping by.

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Hawksmoor (Spitalfields, London, UK)

Because we were trying to do the trip to Frankfurt on the cheap, my tickets had what most people would consider to be an inconvenient 21 hour layover at London Heathrow. For me, this was an opportunity; my brother and sister-in-law live in London (hence all my frequent London and UK entries), so it gave me a nice opportunity to meet up with them, have some dinner, drinks, and pudding, get rested up, and get back to the airport in plenty of time for my flight. As far as dinner goes, it allowed me an opportunity to finally cross one major food destination of my to-do list: going to Hawksmoor, get a seat at the bar and try their famous Kimchi Burger. It was recommended to me a few years ago by someone on Flyertalk.com, but it’s been resilient to my efforts to actually get one; my first attempt was thwarted by my travel schedule (I was stopping off in London on the way to Spain), and my second thwarted by the large numbers of other people visiting Hawksmoor for Christmas festivities. But this time, I finally managed to pull it off, with my brother and sister-in-law in tow.

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Worthy Burger (South Royalton, VT)

Back in August (while Carol and I were in Iceland), one of the greater Upper Valley area’s most anticipated restaurants, Worthy Burger, opened for business. The location itself has been the source of a bit of drama in recent years; originally it was supposed to be a bar run by Freighthouse Brewing, but then as the plans for the brewery got scaled back, plans adjusted, and several folks including local chef Jason Merrill, Dave Brodrick (known for the well-respected Blind Tiger in New York), and Kurt Lessard decided that the South Royalton region was ripe for a gourmet burger bar. So after several months of extensive renovations while locals kept peering in and spreading rumors about the impending opening (some accurate, some not), Worthy Burger finally opening in August.

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Gamli Bærinn (Reykjahlíð, Iceland)

After our most succesful trip to Husavik for whale watching, we headed back down to the Myvatn area. It started to rain pretty heavily, but we still had a nice hike through Dimmuborgir. After seeing many cool lava formations, and be regaled with the stories of the Yule Lads. After some reading up on it from the various signs at Dimmuborgir, I learned that the Yule Lads are the result of a head-on collision between old Norse and Christian traditions: the Yule Lads are the sons of the mountain trolls (Grýla). Unlike the Grýla themselves (who search out and scare naughty children), the Yule Lads only come at Christmastime, and are more mischievous than anything else: they have names like door-slammer (Hurðaskellir), bowl-licker (Askasleikir), sausage-swiper (Bjúgnakrækir), and meat-hook (Ketkrókur, he looks down chimneys and steals roasting meat with a long hook). The supposed way to get the Yule Lads to leave you alone is for your parents to give you lots of clothing at Christmas. I swear I’m not making this up, this is from the signs at Dimmuborgir! But after all that hiking, we were again a bit wet, a bit tired, and really wanted some dinner. While Vogafjós almost lured us in again, we decided to mix it up and try another of the area’s (very few) restaurants, Gamli Bærinn, a pub located next to the Hótel Reynihlíð.

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Gamli Baukur (Husavik, Iceland)

First of all, sorry about the delays, but after a brief stay back in the US, work had me traveling off to Germany, where for most of the trip I was without my laptop. So I’m still playing the catch-up game. But the next stop on our trip through Iceland was a morning of whale watching up in Husavik, a small fishing town in Northern Iceland that since the 1990s has had a pretty significant whale-watching. Sure, I thought I’d been on some good whale watches before (in Southern California, and in New England), but Husavik blew both of them out of the water, since it’s one of the best places in the Atlantic to go whale watching (the bay outside Húsavík is a major feeding area in the northern Gulf Stream). The result was three hours of fairly active whale watching, with humpbacks coming right up to the boat, some white-nosed dolphins, and even a few bottled-nosed whales. See my picture here, it was even cooler than their tourism brochures. But after all that whale watching (which include some cinnamon buns and hot cocoa as snacks), we were rather hungry. Luckily, Gamli Baukur is right on the dock…

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Joe’s Farm Grill (Gilbert, AZ)

Well, after two days of testing in the Superstition Mountains, we were again hungry. This time, we decided to head back into Gilbert for a visit to Joe’s Farm Grill. Joe’s Farm Grill is the sister restaurant to the previous night’s Joe’s Real BBQ. Located just west of the corner of Ray and Higley in Gilbert, if you are in the area, Joe’s Farm Grill is hard to miss, since it has a rather large neon sign, and is basically a large “retro-futuristic” building nestled in amongst the citrus trees at the edge of a working farm. The farm isn’t a new thing, it’s been there since the 1920s, with the Johnston family being there since the 1960s. The restaurant is actually constructed around what’s left of the 1960s ranch house, although the renovation is so significant that you have to look carefully to actually find evidence of the original house (you can see some of this in the “fireplace room”).

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Patati Patata (Montreal, QC)

Carol’s employer has some pretty cool employee benefits programs. One of them tries to address the fact that the Upper Valley area of NH/VT isn’t exactly the most happening place, and offer a lot of programs for both local recreation, as well as travel. As part of this program, they offer up cheap trip (that’s how we went on last month’s trip to New York City for Grimaldi’s, for example). This month, they offered up a cheap day trip to Montreal, so at 5am, we hopped onto a bus at Dartmouth, and by 10:30 we were at Dorchester Square in downtown Montreal. After breakfast and some light shopping, we decided to head up to one of my favorite parts of town (the “Plateau”, where there are a lot of cool shops and restaurants on Boulevard St Laurent and Rue St Denis). To get up there, we availed ourselves of Montreal’s most excellent Bixi bike rental system. After an hour of riding Bixi bikes around Mont Royal park and the plateau, we decided a small lunch was in order. We ended up going to a place that’s been on my hit list for a while: Patati Patata, a small little diner featuring sliders and poutine.

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Chris Madrids (San Antonio, TX)

Often when I’m traveling, I’ll find that a local place has gotten a lot of positive buzz. It will be on most of the “top 10” sorts of lists for a city, either in absolute terms of quality, or as a place you are supposed to check out (these aren’t necessarily the same, there are places I heartily recommend visiting while also noting that they aren’t necessarily the best, like Louis Lunch). And the simultaneously get listed as one of the places in their region, and maybe even the occasional mention on national “Best of” lists. Chris Madrids in San Antonio is one of those places. Most any major list of "must eat" restaurants in San Antonio includes Chris Madrids on the list, and it also is a perennial favorite on several “Best burgers in Texas” lists. I’ve even seen it get a few mentions on “Best Burger in the US” lists. Seeing that our B+B was only 2 miles from Chris Madrids, we decided we had to give it a try.

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Ray’s Hell Burger (Arlington, VA)

(Closed) Well, sometimes the combination of work and personal travel means that there literally is no rest for the weary. I had barely done laundry from the back-to-back-back Chicago, Dayton, and Austin trips, when my travels again had me heading out for 5 days to the DC are for a conference. I rather like going to DC (and do so a lot, usually 4-5 times a year), but it’s never convenient getting there from my house in New Hampshire; I either have to deal with planes, trains, and metros (BWI), a long bus ride (BOS), or inconvenient flight times (DCA). This time I opted for the last of these, since I was staying in Crystal City. Indeed, my with 6:45 am flight, I arrived at DCA and was out the door with my bags by 8:10am on a fabulous Sunday morning, with nothing on my slate until 1:45 in the afternoon (yes, my client scheduled things for Sunday…). After a nice, pleasant walk to the hotel (Yes, Crystal City is only about a 20 minute walk from DCA), I realized I had the better part of 4 hours to get something useful done. So I grabbed a bike from Capital Bikeshare (which is one of those bike rental services that’s just perfect for a visitor like myself), and decided to take a scenic ride north on the Mount Vernon Trail to Arlington, and Ray’s Hell Burger.

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Streats (White River Junction, VT)

(Closed) After our weekend of wandering around Austin eating BBQ and sampling several of Austin’s many food trucks, you’d think that we’d start to be a bit worn out on food trucks. Well, we weren’t. About a week after we got back from Austin, we decided that the weekend weather was nice, and we wandered over to White River Junction, Vermont to check out Streats, our area’s latest food truck. That’s right, the Upper Valley actually has several food trucks (some of which I’ve even review here, like Wicked Awesome BBQ, but I’ll admit I’m way overdue for reviewing Vermont Crepe and Waffle and Mama Tina’s Tamales), of which Streats is the newest arrival. Billing themselves as a “mobile canteen”, Streats is currently located in a mostly vacant lot at the corner of Prospect and Bridge Streets, just west of the bridge to West Lebanon, New Hampshire (for those familiar with the area, it’s across the street from the Listen Center)…

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