October 26, 2011

The Taste Bud: Burger Boy serves classic good eats for cheap

Pretty much everyone I knew had been to the Burger Boy Diner except me. Apparently I missed the good-eats-for-cheap train, and being on that particular train is sort of my gig, you know?


My decision to finally head over to the tiny location at 1450 S. Brook St. was prompted by a discussion I had with my girlfriend about grilled cheese sandwiches. We were at another local dining establishment (which shall remain nameless) and both noticed that grilled cheese was $4.50.

“How much grilled cheese can you make at home for $4.50?” I wondered aloud, a tad annoyed.

“A lot,” was Cynthia’s well-measured reply.

All reports had claimed two key things about Burger Boy: 1) It’s tasty; and 2) It’s cheap. Sounded like it was tailor-made for a Taste Bud, so we went. And grilled cheese? $2.49. Now we’re getting somewhere.

In fact, the special of the day was grilled cheese and a bowl of chili for $4.99, which was tempting. But there is plenty on that menu to like. The Burger Boy Combo for $5.99 gives you the signature double-patty burger, fries and a drink for one price. And then there is breakfast around the clock (the Boy is open 24 hours) — you’ve got omelets starting at $2.99, and breakfast platters starting at $3.99 (mmm, pancakes). For $2.89, it’s two biscuits smothered in pepper gravy. Holy homemade breakfast, Batman.

We opted for a couple of time-honored classics: the quarter pounder with cheese combo for me ($4.99), and a classic BLT on toast ($3.49) for her, along with a side of onion rings for $2.49.

One of the charms of Burger Boy is the friendly service. The atmosphere is a close second — it is the quintessential neighborhood diner, complete with the quintessential locals. When we were there during the early evening recently, there was a group of four elderly gentlemen eating breakfast dishes and quietly chatting about who-knows-what as south Louisville traffic meandered by outside. It was serene.

But there are times when the place gets packed, and legend has it that it can become something of a late-night hipster paradise. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a better food choice when you’re smashed on PBR tall boys.

Anyway, Cynthia’s BLT was of the homemade variety — lots of mayo, iceberg lettuce, thick-sliced tomatoes and several thick slices of bacon. It was just like the ones my mother used to make, although hers always seemed to have a disproportionate tomato-to-bacon ratio.

Cynthia surmised the Burger Boy version thusly: “This is one of those sandwiches that you eat and then think, ‘Hmm, the grease is still in the skillet. It wouldn’t take that long — I might make myself another one.’”

That said, she got full before she could clean her plate. Nevertheless, I think it means she enjoyed the sandwich.

The burger was a tad dry for my taste, but it was still good enough that I ate it all. I opted out of the tomato slices — of which there were two, helping the sandwich to be about three or four inches tall — but it was loaded with fresh, crisp onions, pickles and lettuce. I added mustard for my own purposes.

Also, I have to praise the fries and onion rings at Burger Boy. I noted to Cynthia that the rings are “greasy goodness,” while she couldn’t get enough of the crispy fries that were topped with a few shakes of seasoning salt.

Cynthia flirted with dessert but was too stuffed to pull the trigger. There were cakes and cookies placed strategically on the counter, along with some very large, curious-looking pastries that were slathered in white icing. Turns out they were enormous cinnamon rolls, so big that one of the monstrosities could probably be a meal in itself.

Is it coincidence they cost the same as the grilled cheese? Probably not. And I don’t think you could make those pastries at home. Not without a crane. 

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