The burger: Welcome to the True Confessions portion of Burger Friday. Here goes: I'm not a card-carrying member of the Juicy Lucy (or, in some circles, Jucy Lucy) Fan Club. It's not that I'm opposed to the burger's quirky novelty act bit of engineering, which places cheese and other ingredients inside the patty, rather than on top of it. Let's face it: In the burger universe, that innovation displays Nobel-level ingenuity.
For me, the problem lies in execution. In so many iterations, the patty is thin, dry and relatively flavorless. Worse, what's often a low-quality cheese immediately breaks down into a watery liquid, and within the first bite or two it has all but drained -- sometimes rather dangerously, as it tends to attain molten lava-levels of heat -- outside the burger and onto your lap. Ouch.
But that's not the case with the stuffed burgers at the Blue Door Pub (or pubs; a second location opened in Minneapolis' Longfellow neighborhood earlier this year). They're called Blucys, and they're the stuff of genius, no pun intended.
The hefty 8-ounce patties are thick, generously charred, well-seasoned and well, juicy. The cheese situation is a vast improvement, too. Order the "Classic," and a big-old hunk of sharp Cheddar (it's Tillamook, a way-better-than-average brand) just barely oozes out of the patty's center. Even better, the cheese manages to insinuate itself into just about every bite.
But co-owners Jeremy Woerner and Patrick McDonough don't stop there. Their signature Blucy is a taste bud-teasing combo of salty blue cheese and finely minced fresh garlic, and it's a wowser. Another travels to southeast Asia, filling the patty with coconut milk-marinated mozzarella then topping it with pickled carrots and ginger.
Other favorites include the always unbeatable pairing of mushrooms and Swiss cheese, which ranks right up there with the mix of Cheddar and smoky bacon. Although the temptation is to go overboard with the fillings, Woerner and McDonough wisely embrace restraint; no everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mentality here. No wonder this place is always packed.
Price: Order the "Classic" and pay $6.50, a primo deal. The Blucy price ceiling is $8.50, for that Cheddar-bacon burger, topped with a fried egg.
Fries: $4, and addictive, just exactly what you'd expect from a high-performing burgers-and-beer joint. Fries lovers will love them, but they shouldn't overlook the exceptional basket of crispy, Champagne cork-sized tater tots, ($4, pictured below), which have a propensity to disappear, fast.
Insider's tip: I've never walked into the Blue Door's original location (at Fairview and Selby in St. Paul) and sailed into a seat; the cozy joint seems to be elbow-to-elbow from open to close. Which explains why -- in terms of convenience, anyway -- that I've come to prefer the its Minneapolis counterpart, since it has nearly twice the seating capacity. It also boasts a larger menu, starting with several other Blucys, including one stuffed with a rosemary chevre and roasted garlic.
Address book: 1811 Selby Av., St. Paul, 651-493-1865; and 3448 42nd Av. S., Mpls., 612-315-2470.
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