Tag Archives: Burgers

Pimento Cheeseburger at The Lamar Lounge – Oxford, MS

4 Jul

This burger, without question, is one of my favorite dishes in North Mississippi. We have lived in Oxford going on 3 years now, but it took us a while to find this gem of a bar/restaurant. The Lamar Lounge is a part of John Currence’s Oxford Culinary Empire. At last count, Currence operated 5 eateries in this little town of about 25,000.

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As the logo suggests, the Lounge is a bit pig-centric. Yet the burgers are what keep me coming back for more. Especially so if you slather house made pimento cheese all over the perfectly cooked beef. Pimento cheese has long been a Southern delicacy and a treasured condiment for Dixie Diners in the know. In our opinion, nothing beats fresh, scratch made pimento cheese. Many varieties exist — and finding some in your local grocery store has become increasingly easier.

Lamar Lounge Pimento Burger Good

Basic ingredients are a good sharp cheddar, some quality mayo (we like Duke’s), and chopped up nuggets of pimento (mild red pepper). Some even add jalapeno for an extra kick. Palmetto brand pimento cheese out of the SC Lowcountry makes a delicious jalapeno blend. Look for it in Kroger or WalMart stores across the South.

Lamar Exterior Good

When driving down North Lamar, look for the red neon BAR sign. It is your beacon for good food and drink. Service is casual and very laid back in a hipster sort of way. Live music is performed on many nights. They even show a movie from time to time. Go to their web site or give ’em a ring for more details on that.

Lamar Interior

The interior is a bit dark — those seeking more Vitamin D can ask to be seated outback in their open air patio. That space is illuminated with Napa style patio lights. It also provides a scenic view (and a sniff) of their whole hog pig smoking operation. Yes, they cook whole hog here — a real rarity here in the Magnolia State. Deer antlers and other wild game adorn the interior walls. The bar, a tourist attraction on its own, once belonged to Eddie Fisher, star of stage and screen. Fisher, most famously the husband of starlet Liz Taylor, had his initials carved into the rich mahogany.

This is more of a locals dive when compared to other Oxford dining institutions. But this local suggests you drop by and enjoy a burger, some terrific seasoned fries, a cold Yalobusha brew, and some Hollywood history — right here in the heart of Mississippi Hill Country.

***Bonus Tip — the collard greens are tasty too!

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“The Gulf” Adds Some Needed Juice to the Orange Beach, Alabama Dining Scene

12 Jan

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The structural design is striking, for sure. It is a beautiful space and it flows nicely with its surroundings. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the creation of The Gulf, an exciting new restaurant concept in sun-drenched Orange Beach, AL. The colors blend nicely. The logo (featuring Neptune’s trident) is hip and attractive. GM Johnny Fisher, a former baseball pitcher at the University of South Alabama, tells me the logo was designed by Big Communications in Birmingham, AL. They are the same folks who created the successful Alabama Gulf Seafood campaign. Sounds like they have a nice little niche going.  

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Fisher, who is obviously passionate about this exciting new venture, explained that this original concept was something of a Food Truck 2.0. Clever … and true. The enclosed kitchen structure is not large and the menu is short but sweet. All of the seating is outside — including the bar and the upstairs “balconies.” You can sit upstairs for the best panoramic views. Or you can sit on the wooden deck. Or on the grass — yes, real grass. It’s almost like a putting green. Or you can sit in a chair or comfy couch on the white sands of Perdido Pass. Talk about options! I really like the tiered approach for the outdoor “dining room.”

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OK, time to talk more about the menu board. Here it is (above). It gets tweaked from time to time, but the burger and grouper sandwich have become staples — and why not? Music by the 70’s R&B band WAR was spinning on the house turntable when I stepped up to place my order. Vinyl??? You bet. I heard Dave Mason, War,and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass during my first visit. This feature scores major points with this longtime vinyl junkie and thrift shop denizen. Getting back to the food, the Gulf Burger is just $6 and made with Meyer Ranch (based in Colorado) Natural Angus Beef. None of the cheap stuff here. The Grouper sandwich is $12 and always fresh. Grab an order of fresh cut french fries ($4) as a side or take my lead and skip right ahead to dessert. More on that later.

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These cool T-shirts at The Gulf are moving fast

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My beach view as the food was being prepared

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Even the seats & indoor/outdoor carpeting are cool

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I’m pretty sure the open air bar will prove to be a smashing success

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The space heaters are here — if they are needed

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The Gulf Burger arrived looking all hot and tasty. It was. I was impressed with the attention to the little details. The brioche bun was soft and delicious. The tomato slices fresh and juicy. The lettuce is chopped fresh daily. The house aioli delivers a nice lemon, garlic tang. Even the kosher dill pickle was impressive. This was no sliver, people — this was one half of a big, fat dill. I take notice of this stuff, don’t you? All the food is served on brown paper trays, which only further reinforces The Gulf’s casual vibe and food truck mentality. Place your order at the window, grab a seat overlooking the water, dig the tunes, and prepare thyself for a solid meal. It is on the way, baby.

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The grilled brioche bun made the burger even more memorable

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As for the previously mentioned dessert, the Meyer Lemon Pound Cake (above) was sublime. It’s basically a lemon cupcake topped with a stunningly sweet, tart Meyer Lemon icing. Plenty of it too. You can even see the lemon zest in the generous blob of icing on each piece of citrusy cake. It was a sunny January day when I visited and the heat of the sun’s rays slowly melted my icing into a soft, warm consistency. My entire meal including the juicy, flavorful burger and tangy pound cake came in at under $10. Pretty hard to beat that. And the views were worth a million bucks — especially in the heart of the winter here along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

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Talk about your table with a view? Incredible!

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Cool day on the beach. Grab yourself a Hot Buttered Rum and chill.

Let me put a bow on this thing by saying that I am thrilled that The Gulf has arrived in our little nook of the world. This place is very hip, the people really care about the food, and the beach views and casual, sandy vibe are second to none. And did I tell you they spin vinyl??? Oh yeah, guess I did. Got any old, neglected vinyl laying around? Take it to Johnny — he’ll give it a good home. And speaking of home, I have found a new one at The Gulf. I’ll be a regular in the Summer months. And I’ll visit when I can in the chillier months too.  Can’t think of a better way to wash away the Winter blues — short of another trip to Hawaii.

Great job, Johnny Fisher and crew. We love your new place. Thank you for giving us this little piece of paradise. Like Neptune’s trident, The Gulf is quite sharp — and “on point” too! 

The Gulf  – 27500 Perdido Beach Boulevard, Orange Beach, AL

(251) 424-1800; http://www.facebook.com/#!/thegulfal?fref=ts 

Government Street Grocery Burger’s True Greatness May Require Beer Goggles

11 Jun

The internet buzz about the burgers at Ocean Springs, Mississippi’s Government Street Grocery is quite impressive. Lots of glowing commentary about the Grocery Burger’s deliciousness. It eventually peaked my interest — I must admit. I don’t eat a lot of burgers … especially the red meat variety. But a really well made hamburger is a hard thing to resist.

The Government Street Grocery is perhaps best known as a bar and a live music venue. It’s located in a quaint neighborhood in Ocean Springs, which is one of our favorite little Gulf Coast towns. This is a very arsty, fartsy community. World renowned artist Walter Anderson played a major role in putting Ocean Springs on the map. In fact, the Anderson Museum is a must-see attraction when you’re in this part of the world.

Where there’s cold beer, there is normally a good hamburger lurking on a nearby grill. Burgers are classic American pub food. And it is no different here on the Gulf Coast, even though the region’s fresh seafood overshadows just about everything else on local menues. With good reason, too!

I sat down with my good friend and Coastal Mississippi native Lloyd Hebert for a Friday afternoon lunch. I ordered the Grocery Burger and a side of fried okra. Lloyd opted for a Roast Beef po-boy with a steaming hot bowl of brown dipping gravy. Our waitress applauded my decision to go for the burger. She even recommended the okra. The burger was so-so … the okra was more like medi-0kra. The burger wasn’t bad. And I did finish it. But it was not unlike hundreds of burgers I have eaten before. Not a thing special or unique about it. Edible but forgettable, you might say.

The okra, to my shock and horror, was the pre-breaded, frozen junk. Now I am an okra-holic and this is JUST — NOT — ACCEPTABLE. Restaurants in the Deep South serving frozen, pre-breaded okra should be required by law to post a warning in LARGE TYPE on their menues. It’s just wrong on every level. So doggone wrong.

Summation: Government Grocery = cool, funky bar. Memorable dining it is not.

“Persian” made with potato flour from the Tato-Nut Cafe

So just when I thought we were looking at a missed opportunity, Lloyd steered me to a very cool little doughnut shop just a few doors down Government Street. It seems Tato-Nut is a remnant from the old SpudNut franchises of the 1960s. SpudNut was all over the U.S. map back in the day, but pretty much all of those stores are now a distant memory.

Tato-Nut somehow hung on — changing its name along the way, but not its special dough made with potato flour. Lloyd suggested the “Persian” (sort of a cross between a cinnamon roll and a honey bun). It was fresh, packed with cinnamon flavor, and pretty darn dee-lish. So we ended our dining adventure on a positive note after all. Good work, Lloydster!

Government Street Grocery – 1210 Government St., Ocean Springs, MS

www.myspace.com/govtstreetgrocery

Tato-Nut Cafe – 1114 Government St., Ocean Springs, MS

228 872-2076

www.facebook.com/pages/Tato-Nut-Cafe/67854397723

Callaghan’s Irish Social Club in Mobile, Alabama

2 Jan

Callaghan’s is without doubt one of my favorite hangouts in Mobile. I have lived in the area for almost 2 years now and it took me a while to find my way here. That is not unusual. In fact, I have met Mobile natives who don’t know where it is. Shame. Because once you find it, you certainly won’t forget it.

It doesn’t look gangbusters from the outside. It is, after all, a rather boxy, 1920’s era building (once a butcher shop). But there is a certain charm to be found in it’s somewhat plain Jane exterior. It may have something to do with the surrounding neighborhood, which consists of a cluster of historic homes and cottages dating back to the early and mid 20th century. Callaghan’s is the centerpiece of the community — and has been for many decades.

Here is an example of a neighborhood cottage across street from the pub.

Here’s another one. They are so cool — and really not that pricey either.

Daily specials at Callaghan’s — always worth a look. Creativity still lives here.

Outdoor patio seating is a good call at lunch — if the day’s weather permits.

Our dining table – filled with old Mobile memorabilia from days long past.

They make one of the best burgers in Mobile – and they have awards to prove it.

Funny — and true!

Irish Curse on wall at Callaghan’s. The walls are filled with eye candy like this.

Callaghan’s Chicken Philly — my go-to sandwich for lunch. It is served on delicious, fresh baked bread and filled to overflowing with chunks of chicken breast, onions, green peppers, and tons of good cheese. I typically order this with a side of housemade chips or Callaghan’s tart cucumber salad. They brew really good iced tea too. It’s always a good call (sweet or unsweet) if you’re working or if it’s not yet 5 pm. I must admit that this line of thought isn’t always in vogue at Callaghan’s. Mobile is a fun loving city and, for many, work can always wait until tomorrow.

John “JT” Thompson is a terrific host and you will feel like a regular upon your first visit. The atmosphere is so warm and cozy, they’ve got HD TVs all over the place, and you’d be surprised at all the first rate musical acts they are able to consistently book here. Robert Plant even stopped by for a pint or two after playing a recent show in Mobile with his Band of Joy. That should give you an idea about Callaghan’s worldwide reputation. ESQUIRE magazine ranked them one of the best bars in the USA. Doesn’t surprise me a bit. I just hope the rest of Mobile doesn’t find out about them. I feel like I’m on the right side of a well kept secret and, selfishly, I’d like to keep it that way. At least for another decade or two.

www.callaghansirishsocialclub.com

GooRoo’s Grill in Robertsdale, AL

21 Aug

GooRoo’s Grill can be found along Route 104 (just west of Highway 59; across from the Livestock Auction) in Robertsdale, Alabama. It’s been there for a while, but we had not tried them out until yesterday. Glad we stopped in. Nice folks and definitely a notch or two above big brand fast food. Things must be going well for Ed (The GooRoo). Internet reviews have been positive and they will soon be moving into a larger, more permanent location just down the road a piece.

GooRoo’s bright orange globe logo lists many of their popular food offerings.

The burgers at GooRoo’s are indeed extremely popular – and reasonable too.

We ordered up a GooRoo Burger on our first visit. Must try the seafood soon.

The GooRoo Burger comes on a nice fluffy bun and is topped with real Cheddar Cheese. It’s gooey and good — just what you would expect from a guy nicknamed The GooRoo. We sampled the 1/4 lb. burger. It’s also offered in a hulking 1/2 pound size for those with big  boy appetites. All food here is cooked to order with the seafood and ground beef coming fresh from nearby markets.

Just look at that cheese! Now how can you resist that, people???

GooRoo’s also offers seafood po-boys & what’s said to be a pretty good gumbo.  

www.gooroosgrill.com

New Waterfront Dining Spot in Osprey

6 Jan

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This joint recently opened in nearby Osprey, Florida.

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It’s right on the bayfront — great views!

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The setting for outdoor dining is beachy & comfortable

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Menu changes daily with fish specials, wine offerings, etc.

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Sitting on the dock of the bay — almost!

Can’t wait to give ’em a try. We have heard good things.