Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Jason Perlow

Louis Lunch

Recommended Posts

On route to Boston this week, Rachel and I stopped in New Haven, CT for lunch. On the recommendation of Fat Guy, we went to Louis Lunch, a historical monument to the hamburger.

i630.jpg

Founded in 1895, Louis Lunch credits itself with the invention of the hamburger in 1900 when a patron came in and asked for a quick meal he could eat on the run. The luncheonette's owner, Louis Lassert, hurriedly sandwiched a beef patty between two slices of of toast and sent the customer on its way, and the hamburger was born.

Whether you believe the story or not, these burgers are GOOD. The meat is ground on premises every day, and there's a rather bizzare and unique method in which these burgers are actually cooked. For starters, theres these little gas burning "ovens" (that are clearly ancient) which the hamburgers are broiled VERTICALLY in, held together by these wrought-iron baskets.

i634.jpg

Burger broiler ovens in action

i635.jpg

Another view of the broiler ovens

i633.jpg

Burgers, withdrawn from the broiler in the basket grill

i632.jpg

Burgers being assembled

i631.jpg

Burger close up


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

by the way, Louis Lunch has a written rule -- NO KETCHUP or MUSTARD. Cheese, tomato and onion are the only acceptable garnish. They make Burger Club look outright progressive by comparison.

It should be noted that when we were there for lunch on a tuesday, the place was packed solid and we had to wait a half an hour before we could eat. So be extremely patient. Its worth it.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm surprised they let you take pictures of the equipment! The people at Louis tend to be extremely cranky. You must have been very smooth.

Did you see them yell at any customers, like ones who asked for ketchup?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Jason, what's the address on the place? Looks good-those cookers look really interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did you see them yell at any customers, like ones who asked for ketchup?

I remember being warned about doing anything embarrassing like asking for ketchup when we were taken there.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm surprised they let you take pictures of the equipment! The people at Louis tend to be extremely cranky. You must have been very smooth.

Did you see them yell at any customers, like ones who asked for ketchup?

No, actually everyone was very civil and quiet, and they didn't mind that I took pictures.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you go at a quiet time, you can ask for a burger RAW. It's the best steak tartare available anywhere that I know of.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, that's how we originally heard of them. Everyone was very nice. Oh and burger club notes: their default is a perfectly medium rare burger, served piping hot. Nice beefy flavor, could have used a little more salt. Juiciness of beef, grilled onion and tomato slice easily compensated for lack of commercial condiment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No ketchup. No mustard.

Maybe I should smuggle in some contraband cucumber relish and have my chauffer hold the grey poupon at the ready in the running Rolls for a quick get away before I am caught in an illegal act by the owners?

Do they allow salt and pepper?

Has anyone every smuggled such contraband into the luncheonette.

I assume that Lunch means no breakfast and no supper. What about weekends?

Any off times they are less likely to be packed? On that Tuesday when did you go there? Any idea how late they are open?


Edited by VivreManger (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No ketchup.  No mustard. 

Maybe I should smuggle in some contraband cucumber relish and have my chauffer hold the grey poupon at the ready in the running Rolls for a quick get away before I am caught in an illegal act by the owners?   

Do they allow salt and pepper? 

Has anyone every smuggled such contraband into the luncheonette. 

I assume that Lunch means no breakfast and no supper.  What about weekends? 

Any off times they are less likely to be packed?  On that Tuesday when did you go there?  Any idea how late they are open?

Check out their website for more info, menu, ordering tips and a free bag of chips coupon:

click for Louis Lunch

Hours of operation are listed as: Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am-4pm, and Thursday through Saturday from 12noon-2am.

Closed during the second week of January, as well as the week of Good Friday through Easter Sunday. They are also closed during the entire month of August for their annual spoon inventory.


...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"The Best Of" had a segment on this place on their burger episode, I think.

for sure. i seen it on da tv too. and i've been dying to go since!

jason, how was it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Louis' Lunch may have a certain historical, even archeological interest, but foodwise it's a real snoozer.

I mean, chopped meat served on blah white toast smeared with processed cheese spread out of a large tin can? Puh-leeze.

I feel like I just shouted "I don't believe in God!" in the middle of a papal audience, but I said it and I'm glad.

If the line at Louis' is too long, take a stroll to Gastronomique on High Street, between Chapel and Crown, and get gourmet takeout served up by a CIA man. (That's Culinary Institute of America, not central Intelligence Agency.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went about a month ago and enjoyed it. It's true that it's chopped meat served on white toast smeared with processed cheese spread. But it's cooked in an interesting fashion, and particularly with "the works" it... er... works. I didn't think it was the best Hamburger I'd ever had, not even remotely, but it was very good and fairly unique. I was also lucky enough to go around 3:45PM, right when they are least busy, and hardly waited at all.

My other big temptation was to ask the owner exactly at what point they switched from yelling at people when they carved their initials into the walls, counters, tables, floors, ceilings, fixtures, etc., to ignoring that behavior, to eventually encouraging it. It must have been an interesting process.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband refuses to go there with me... The ketchup thing pisses him off to no end. I'm serious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Am I correct in assuming that there is also no mayo allowed? A burger without mayo is like a life without sex. Well...not quite, but close :laugh:.

THW


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mayonnaise is next to Godliness. :smile:


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hit both Louis Lunch and Yankee Doodle for a cheeseburger sampling last Saturday afternoon, and in my mind, it was no contest: The Doodle blew away Louis.

Louis got first dibs. Went just after opening, about 12:10. There were already 10 people ahead of me, but the first burgers didn’t come out to customers until about 12:30, mine at 12:45. So, service gets a big donut. The hallowed Louis process consists of a borderline surly “grillman” carrying out the following steps: (i) loading 6 burgers into one of three contraptions not unlike a fish grill holder, (ii) standing around and waiting, (iii) removing burgers from holder, (iv) coating crappy, industrial-strength toasted white bread with the thinnest schmear of cheese-like goo, (v) cutting a thin slice of tomato and an even thinner, micro-mini wedge of onion and placing it on toast, and (vi) plopping burger onto bread and slicing it in half.

gallery_7898_4771_36250.jpg

gallery_7898_4771_15715.jpg

This did not augur well for my anticipated enjoyment of the burger. And it indeed was at best mediocre. Despite the claim, the burger was somewhat past medium, rather than the boldly announced medium rare, though it was still mildly juicy. It was devoid of any seasoning whatsoever. And at $14 for 2 burgers and 2 sodas, not exactly a steal. If you’re going for food-history tourism, I guess it’s on the checklist. But for burger pleasure, I recommend steering clear. It's seems to be one of those places that feel that their reputation alone does away with the need to serve a quality product or be concerned with any sort of customer-friendly efficiency.

The Doodle, on the other hand, is a treasure.

gallery_7898_4771_85445.jpg

gallery_7898_4771_61549.jpg

gallery_7898_4771_74642.jpg

The owner, Rick, was manning the grill and was happy to answer my questions. Their burgers are griddled 2-oz gems with an 80/20 mix. I ordered a standard single cheese, with grilled onions and tomato. The burger is thrown on the grill, and diced onions are sprinkled on top. After roughly 30 seconds, the burger is flipped and mashed down a bit to grill the onions. The cheese and tomato are set on top, and the burger’s covered for a few seconds before being placed on a soft, lightly grilled bun, to which a dab of butter is added as it’s served. The whole cooking process took about a minute.

gallery_7898_4771_5448.jpg

gallery_7898_4771_8780.jpg

gallery_7898_4771_28802.jpg

Man, it was good: almost perfect meat-to-bun ratio (just a teeny bit too thin, in my book), really juicy, very flavorful. I had to order another. I’m a griddled slider fan, and the Doodle’s are about as good as they get, right up there with my fav Bray’s in Detroit.

I asked Rick about other burger joints in the area, and he suggested Ted’s in Meriden (he said Middletown, though), which was already on my list. He chatted about his life at the restaurant, pointing out a customer further down the counter who had eaten at the Doodle on opening day and still comes by very regularly. As mentioned on other posts, the pigs in blankets, as well as the milkshakes, are reputed to be excellent as well.


Edited by cinghiale (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...