The original plan that Charlie had so ingeniously thought up was to go to Louis' Lunch, the famed birthplace of the hamburger, and order a burger while waiting for a pizza at Bar across the street. Alas, the stomachs quite reasonably did not want to yield to the combination of hamburger and mashed potato-laden pizza. Having already eaten three pizzas that day, we went just for the burger. Yes kids, that's our idea of "moderation."
The little brick hovel that is Louis' Lunch looks a bit out of place. It's moved four times around New Haven since its establishment in 1895 to avoid being demolished. It's immortal.
At around 10 p.m., the place was still fairly crowded with burger-hongry people. Jeff Lassen (on the right), a fourth-generation family member of the founding Lassen family, was behind the counter taking orders and grilling the burgers.
Not much has changed at Louis' over the years, but there's no reason to fix what ain't broke. Burgers are grilled the same way they have been for over 100 years in vertical cast iron gas stoves, and sliced white bread (the same "bun" they've been using since the beginning) is toasted in a conveyor toaster made in 1929. Watch these contraptions in action in Roadfood's feature on Louis' Lunch.
Although Louis' Lunch is associated with hamburgers, I was surprised that people rarely mention that they have a dessert menu. And not just any desserts, but pies. Pies! Pies filled with creamy goodness and/or fruit! Why would anyone leave out the exciting prospect of pies?! I DON'T KNOW!
Thankfully, Jason had pie on the mind and we shared a towering wedge of banana cream pie, aka one of the best pies flavors ever. The cookie-like crust was a bit too tough to yield to the not-so-powerful crush of the plastic forks, but the filling of sliced bananas, vanilla pudding, and fluffy whipped cream was easily scoopable. Each filling component was in about a 1:1:1 ratio...or maybe 1:1:1.5. There was a lot of whipped cream. But I love whipped cream, so I didn't complain.
We sat at the large corner table, which looked like the newest part of the restaurant. Other booths were built for two, but probably two people from the early 1900s. That is, people skinnier than I am.
And then we had burger action. Drippy burger action. With cheese, grilled onions, and a tomato slice. Snuggled between two squashed slices of lightly toasted bread. Keeping with 19th-century tradition, they don't do ketchup at Louis' Lunch. Don't ask for it or else you'll look like a schmuck. You should be happy enough with the cheese, tomato, and onion anyway.
The fat and juicy patty was cooked medium-rare, my favorite form of done-ness. I can't say I loved the burger, but I liked it. Maybe I would've loved it if it had more charring action. The patty tasted rather solid and dense, packing a lot of meat-ness in every bite. For $5, it makes a satisfying meal, although it's even better rounded out with a slice of pie. ;)
And thus the day of New Haven fooding that I managed to spread over about one and a half weeks of blog entries had ended. Pizza, ice cream, pizza, pizza, and burgers, consumed with the help of three friends. Not a bad itinerary...not bad at all.