The Unvegan

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Juiced by Lucy at Barney’s Beanery

Looks so innocent.

Ever since I learned of the existence of the Juicy Lucy, my life goal has been to chomp down on one myself. Just to tear it open with my teeth until the insides flowed out was something I thought would give me great pleasure. You see, a Juicy Lucy is something special and not-surprisingly comes from the Midwest. Minnesota to be exact. Rather than being content with the old ways of the cheeseburger, the innovative Minnesoootans decided to stuff their burgers with cheese, giving the burger a molten core of cheese just waiting to be unleashed. That is the essence of the Juicy Lucy and although I assumed I would have to make one on my own because I live far from Minnesota, I managed to find it on the menu at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood.

At first I was caught off-guard. I longed for it for so long, yet here it was. I ordered it as soon as I could. It came with lettuce, tomato and onion, but I ordered mine bare, and juicy. It also came with fries for $9.50. A small sum to pay for a mythical burger. But when it arrived, it looked just like an ordinary burger. No fanfare, but a surprisingly small patty on a bun with no sign of what lay inside.

Juiced by Lucy.

I grasped it in my hands and took a bite, only to find my face dripping with some of the cheesy goodness that had been sealed inside. But no sooner than I licked my lips did I realize the true damage I had just done. Apparently the burger had been sealed air-tight and my bite unleashed cheese upon more than just my face. My hands and shirt had taken a blow and I knew my next Juicy Lucy would be eaten with a much cheaper shirt and with much more care.

I see the Lucy, show me the Juicy.

Yet, despite the liquid explosion, that first bite had been pretty dry and not very cheesy. I assumed the burger had to be cooked longer than usual to ensure meltiness inside, but I still hadn’t reached the gooey cheese core I was hoping for. The next bite, though, gave me just what I wanted. This time the cheese really flowed. I had expected the molten core to burn the crap out of my tongue, but it was actually a safe temperature and I immediately devoured the rest of the burger.

So that’s the secret of the ooze…

So now I’m sure you’re wondering if the Juicy Lucy beats out a regular cheeseburger. The answer is yes. And no. The cheese itself is far better, but being cooked into the core, it doesn’t quite span the entire burger, leaving some cheeseless quadrants. Then you have the meat itself. It seemed that the burger had to be cooked extra long to make the cheese inside melt, which had the unfortunate side effect of a slightly overcooked burger. I’ll have to try some more Juicy Lucys before I decide whether that was just Barney’s fault or if that is really just how the burger has to be cooked. One thing is for sure, though, the Juicy Lucy is a legitimate burger and not just some novelty. Given time, I expect to see this burger of the north invade reputable and sketchy burger joints everywhere. My shirts, however, would certainly prefer I stick to regular cheeseburgers.