Today's guest review comes from a good friend of mine, Paul Scrabeck, who used to live in Minneapolis. While his comments regarding the distinguished nature of this blog are dubious at best, I think he is right on in his assessment of Matt's Bar. I had the wonderful opportunity of trying the Jucy Lucy last summer, and it's a real treat! Without further ado:
First of all let me say that being published on such a distinguished blog is an honor. The only thing that makes me a worthy contributor is the recent opportunity I had to break bread at Matt’s Bar and consume the subject of today’s article: The one and only Jucy Lucy.
Let me begin by saying that the contrast between the temperature of the air outside of Matt’s and the temperature of the cheese inside of (yeah, that’s right, INSIDE) my Jucy Lucy was vast. My visit to Minnesota just happened to be during the middle of January and a frigid Arctic front was blowing in from the North Pole. Brings up the question, how much do circumstances and atmosphere play into how good a burger tastes to a person? A topic for another entry perhaps? In my case, conditions were perfect for a great experience. I was in Minnesota on a business trip and found myself with a friend in south Minneapolis where Matt’s Bar happens to be located. We were cold, hungry, and since I am from Minnesota but live in Colorado, something nostalgic is always nice when I’m back visiting and Matt’s was one of my favorites when I lived in the Minneapolis area. After a short dialogue about what we were hungry for, we decided on Matt’s and made the trek down Lake Street in my rental car to see if there was a table available at the regional favorite. Much to our joy, there was.
The Jucy Lucy is a bit of a different creation than any other burger. The only time I’ve eaten a burger with a pocket inside of it is when consuming a Jucy Lucy. There are plenty of other creations that include a “pocket” for the ingredients, but the only one that is 100% beef is the Jucy Lucy. For those not familiar with a Jucy Lucy, it is a burger with a “built in” pocket in the middle that is completely sealed (by meat) around the outside. The inside is filled with melted, when fresh off the grill, boiling cheese. For those still not tracking, think jelly donut except with hamburger and cheese.
This Jucy Lucy was grilled to perfection. There was a thin crust externally on the burger. It was not thick, but it was evenly coated with a little bit of crust, the kind of crust that comes from searing the outside layer of meat with the hot grease on the grill. It gives a little more texture to the hamburger. It is a technique I am fond of. The meat itself in a Jucy Lucy is usually cooked well done given the nature of the structure of the Jucy Lucy. With cheese inside of the burger to melt and thinner outside walls than a normal burger, by the time the cheese is melted sufficiently, the burger is cooked with no pink left. Most burgers cooked with no pink become dry and may feel like they’ll plug your esophagus as peristalsis begins its motion through your GI tract. Though the Jucy Lucy is not pink and cooked thoroughly, the loads of cheese melted inside provide plenty of moisture and lubrication for a smooth entry as the Jucy Lucy prepares to meet her destiny.
One of the other things I think is unique about a Jucy Lucy: it has no “fixings”. Matt’s gives you an option of onions or no onions. I chose no onions as I am maybe what you might call a purist: I like my burger because of the hamburger, not all of the extra things that can drown out the actual taste of the hamburger. Other than onions, they have mustard and ketchup at the table. For a burger purist, this is all you need.
In conclusion, we need to discuss the bun. Matt’s uses a simple white bread bun bought from some local distributor I’m sure. It is not what sets your meal at Matt’s apart, as it's average at best. What sets Matt’s apart is the atmosphere and the uniqueness of the burger. For a great experience and a really good burger that is different than pretty much anything else, try a Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis next time you are there! On your way out you may see a sign with this clever little saying to leave you with a smile, “The best burger on earth coincidentally has a molten core.”