Tim’s Jucy Lucy Tour! Stop Six: Nook
Last night, after a somewhat long break from my Jucy Lucy Tour, I got the craving again. Kelly and I had tickets to the Twins vs. Red Sox game (which the Twins won 4-2!) and we decided before the game to go try a new Jucy Lucy. I had heard good things about the Lucys over at Nook in Saint Paul, including Erin at We Got Served (a very good local restaurants site) who said this is her favorite Jucy Lucy in town. So I was coming in with fairly high expectations.
Nook does live up to its name, it really is a hole-in-the-wall type place. It fits in well with the other Lucy joints we’ve tried, save for the spacious by contrast 5-8 Club. Despite being small it appears to be doing pretty well, judging by the number of flatscreens situated throughout the bar and restaurant areas. There’s a lot of the usual local dive decorations, photographs on the wall of people you don’t know having a beer, autographed jerseys of local teams, etc. Nook even offers three menu items (that I noticed) named after local sports heroes, The Paul Molitor, The Matt Birk, and the Joe Mauer. I considered ordering the Molitor as it’s a Lucy with pepperjack cheese, but I decided to stick with the classic. Kelly did the same.
We were there fairly early in the evening in order to make it to the game on time, so the service was pretty prompt. Our waitress was friendly and our food came fast. I was pleasantly surprised to see homestyle fries, the absolute pinnacle of all fry varieties (I may be biased because these are what we used to make when I worked at the since closed Connor’s Bakery and Deli). The fries were good, but not as good as I originally hoped for when I saw they were homestyle. Homestyle fries are distinguished partially by their greasiness. Now, there’s certainly a limit where the grease can become way too much (the homestyle fries at the fantastic Scandia burger joint Meister’s Bar occasionally veer into too greasy territory). However, the fries at Nook were too much in the opposite direction, they eliminated the greasy aspect, but this made the fries too dry. I’d still give them a B, but it is one area that could be improved.
The main event, the Jucy Lucy, was easily one of the better that we’ve eaten (Kelly and I were in agreement on this point). One of the problem in cooking a Jucy Lucy is that the two patties encapsulating the cheese are somewhat thin, and it doesn’t take very long for them to dry out in the cooking. Nook’s solution to this seems to be a combination of using a little more meat than other places (this could just be my perception though) and cooking the burger a little less. I imagine this burger would split people into a couple camps. If you don’t mind, or if you’re like me and you love, a burger that’s got some pink to it, you will love the Jucy Lucy at Nook. If you’re someone who needs your meat cooked well it probably isn’t for you.
The pinkness gives the burger a nice juiciness that was missing from some of the previous entries, especially the burger I choked down at The Groveland Tap. This was probably the best full experience I’ve had yet on the tour. The burger, fries, and my usual Summit made a great pre-ballgame meal. The burger itself can’t quite edge the one I had at Adrian’s though. Between Nook and The Blue Door Pub Saint Paul is really making a name for itself as a home for the Lucy that rivals even South Minneapolis.