Over the past year, I've been on a mission to find the best stuffed-cheeseburger in the Twin Cities area. I've tried the two most famous ones - Matt's Bar and The 5-8 Club - and found a surprising one at The Nook in St. Paul. One more on my list to try was a St. Paul bar/burger joint by the name of The Blue Door Pub. I was in the Twin Cities calling on accounts earlier this summer and had time to stop by The Blue Door Pub for a burger one afternoon.
The Blue Door Pub is one of the newest of a list of nearly 30 burger joints in the Twin Cities that feature their own version of the Juicy Lucy - or Jucy Lucy - depending upon which spelling you subscribe to. In the fall of 2008, Jeremy Woerner and Patrick McDonough opened the doors of the little funky place at the corner of Selby Ave and Fairview Ave. N in the Merriam Park area of St. Paul (see map). The building used to house a Puerto Rican restaurant - Puerta Azu (The Blue Door) - so they just Anglicized the name and the rest is history.
Woerner and McDonough were veterans of The Groveland Tap, a nearby neighborhood corporate establishment that also served a variation of the Juicy Lucy. Woerner and McDonough happened to live in the Merriam Park area and sort of caught the vibe that the area needed a little neighborhood pub. The "BDP", as it's known to the locals, has about 12 to 14 tables and booths and a small bar. In the summertime, outdoor seating is available. There's a small parking lot on the east side of the building and plenty of street parking up and down Selby.
I got into The Blue Door Pub and sat at the bar as no tables or booths were open. The World Cup was playing on the flat-screen television in the corner above the bar, but I really had no interest in that. A bartender gave me a menu and asked me what I'd like to drink. I had a couple more stops that day, so I didn't think a beer or two at lunch would hurt. The only problem was what to choose.
The Blue Door Tap has an extensive menu of beers on tap - one that changes on a seasonal basis and can change on a weekly basis. I was torn between three or four beers before I ended up getting a Surly Furious- a very hoppy American India Pale Ale made in the Twin Cities. (For my entry on Surly beers, click here.)
Burgers are the cornerstone of the menu at The Blue Door Pub - they call them "Juicy Blucy's" at the BDP, an obvious take off of the name. The burgers at The Blue Door Tap have a bit of a twist to them compared to the other Juicy Lucy burgers that proliferate the Twin Cities area. They have 10 different variations of the Blucy Lucy to choose from, some of which are:
The Blucy - a bleu cheese stuffed burger.
The Merriam Park - bacon, bleu cheese and garlic stuffed burger topped with red currant jelly.
The Bangkok Blucy - coconut milk-soaked mozzarella stuffed burger topped with carrots, cucumbers, red onions and ginger served with a side of curry.
The Breakfast Blucy - a cheddar cheese stuffed burger topped with more cheddar cheese, thick cut bacon and a fried egg.
The Frenchy - Swiss cheese and caramelized onions stuffed inside, then topped with more Swiss cheese. A cup of au jus sauce is provided to dip the burger into.
They also have something called the Jiffy Burger where they cover a burger with peanut butter, mayo, pepper jack cheese, bacon, and pickles. Although peanut butter on a burger doesn't sound appealing to me, it was recently given the Best Burger in the Twin Cities award by City Pages weekly newspaper.
You can also build-your-own burger at the BDP. You can have a single - or double - non-stuffed burger and pick from a myriad of toppings including lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, pineapple, sweet chili lime, banana peppers, and fried or raw onions. They offer nearly two dozen toppings (not including ketchup or mustard) and six different types of cheese to choose from for the build-your-own burger.
The Blue Door Pub has a contest called the "Blucy Challenge" that allows customers to order all 10 of their regular "Juicy Blucy" burgers (they also rotate a couple limited-time specialty burgers in and out of the mix from time to time) and they'll receive a winners shirt. Challengers get a punch card and once they hit their tenth burger they get a pretty cool t-shirt. Here's a random picture I took off of BDP's Facebook site of a happy challenge winner displaying her shirt. If I lived in the Twin Cities area, I probably would join in on the challenge. But given that I only get to the Twin Cities two or three times a year, it would be five years before I would be able to go through 10 burgers at The Blue Door Pub.
In addition to burgers at the BDP, they also feature a Pub Sandwich which sounds like a high-octane Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato sandwich topped with a fried egg and cheddar cheese. For the health conscious in the crowd, they have a black bean burger and something they call the St. Paul Burger which features an egg foo young patty topped with garlic aioli, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. The menu says it was popularized in St. Louis, but quite honestly I've never heard of it or come across this variation during all my travels to St. Louis.
One more thing - the BDP is quickly becoming famous for an appetizer they call Spam Bites. They take a small bit of Spam, cream cheese, and a pickle and deep fry them. I understand they're delectable, but I would think that would be an appetizer that you'd share with others. Also, they had beer-battered green beans and they're also known for their tater-tots - served plain, Cajun style or with hot sauce to dip in.
I was torn between a couple three of the burgers: the Mushroom-Swiss Blucy that features Swiss cheese and chopped mushrooms stuffed in the middle; the Breakfast Blucy - even at 1:30 in the afternoon that sounded damn good; or the Cajun Blucy - pepper jack cheese with chopped jalapenos stuffed into the center. After a long deliberation that took up a good portion of drinking my Surly Furious beer, I ended up going with the Cajun Blucy. The Mushroom-Swiss Blucy was a close second. I also got a side of their hand-cut fries, narrowly choosing them over the tater-tots.
Waiting for my burger to show up, I switched gears for my second beer and got a Summit Extra Pale Ale. And that was almost finished when my burger finally showed up as it took nearly 20 minutes from the time I ordered to the time the burger reached my table.
If you've read my earlier entries regarding Juicy Lucy burgers, the biggest problem is that they have to literally cook the burgers to a well-done state to get them to cook through to the middle. And that means they usually cook them at too high a temperature and too fast. I've found through trial and error of making my own homemade Juicy Lucy's is that a low flame and a long time on each side to cook through without drying out the meat. I'm guessing that's exactly what they do at The Blue Door Pub. The bun was soft and chewy, lightly toasted and very tasty. The cheese and jalapenos oozed out of the burger, they weren't cooked out like I've had at other and more notable Juicy Lucy joints in the Twin Cities. it could have been a little more spicy for my taste, but there was still a little kick from the jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. But most importantly, the burger was still juicy and not over-cooked. It was a very, very good burger to say the least.
I had a few of the hand-cut fries and they, too, were very good. Nice and crispy, the fries weren't limp or over-cooked. They went very well with the meal.
Earlier this spring, Guy Fieri from The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives stopped in for a Juicy Blucy and filmed his experience for an upcoming episode that will be shown later this season. Here's a picture that I took off of BDP's Facebook page of Guy with the boys from The Blue Door Pub. His Food Network colleague, Adam Richman - host of Man vs. Food - has visited the 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar, whimping out during his segment by not declaring which of the two have the better Juicy Lucy. Well, I can attest that the Juicy Blucy blows away either the Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar or the Juicy Lucy at the 5-8 Club. So far, The Nook comes in second to The Blue Door pub when it comes to a cheese-stuffed burger in the Twin Cities. I have a handful of other places I'd like to try before giving the BDP the "Road Tips Best of" award for Juicy Lucy's. But I'm afraid it's going to be tough to top the Blue Door Pub's Juicy Blucy.