It’s Burger Week, y’all, and we wanted to try some of the offerings from our local burger joints and restaurants. The goal was to try one of the weirdest burgers on the list. We had Mac-n-cheese burgers, Shrimp and Grits Burgers, Ramen burgers, and more. Your LEO staff tried, and all but one succeeded in trying, the quirkiest of the Burger Week specials. The best thing about burger week is even if you’re not adventurous, there is a burger or 16 for you.
The Wimp – Erica Rucker aka
LEO’s editor-in-chief, resident wimp
Happy Belly Bistro’s
“Chipotle Patty Melt”
I’m the wimp, it’s me. I tried to psyche myself up to try a burger really out of my comfort zone but I’m a visual person, so if the visuals don’t add up, the gag reflex kicks in and then my stomach reverses all contents. I can’t. So I knew there were a couple of Burger Week burgers that were an immediate ‘no’ from me.
I chose Happy Belly Bistro’s Chipotle Patty Melt. It’s on toast, so it’s quirky… right?
Pros: It was a big burger, with plenty of caramelized onions, cheese, and a bit of chipotle sauce. Size-wise, this burger gives you your money’s worth. It also comes with an order of Yucca chips that were pretty tasty.
Cons: The issues I had with the Chipotle Patty Melt were that it was overcooked to well-done and that caused it a bit of dryness. The chipotle sauce was a bit skimpy and it missed what could have been a better bite to the sandwich. The cheese was also not typical of the patty melt experience so it fell a little flat there, too, for me. The yucca chips should have been a shining addition on the side but some where coated in seasoned salt and it made a few of the chips inedible.
Overall: I’d try it again but in-house at their location with TEN20 Brewing. I think part of the issue with the burger being well-done was that it continued to cook after it was boxed and ready for pick-up. Surely, the folks at Happy Belly will be busy this week with Burger Week, so my experience may have been a fluke. The burger wasn’t terrible and, if eaten in-house, will be a burger to return to for later visits.
I’d actually like to see them as a slider option with a thinner burger, and a bit more chipotle and cheese to really fill out the patty melt sensation. —Erica Rucker
The Warrior- Gracie Vanover aka
Gracie 1, former LEO Intern and Freelancer
Nic & Norman’s
“Blackened Shrimp and Grits Smash Burger”
One of many local restaurants participating in this year’s annual Louisville Burger Week is Nic & Norman’s, a casual but southern-influenced restaurant owned by The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus and the show’s prosthetic makeup artist Greg Nicotero. Tucked away downtown, this burger joint lives among many other eateries like Troll Pub Under the Bridge and Zombie Taco.
For the seventh year of Louisville Burger Week but the first for their restaurant, Nic & Norman’s is presenting their Blackened Shrimp and Grits Smash Burger. The burger features cheesy, creamy grits with blackened shrimp intertwined on the restaurant’s classic smash burger. It comes dressed with fresh arugula, sliced tomato, and a tangy creole sauce, and finally is topped off with their signature branded bun. The burger does not come with a side, but sides can be added for an additional cost. It was surprisingly super yummy! I was kinda nervous because I used to be a super picky eater but it’s very good.
Nic & Norman’s (located at 108 W. Washington St.) opened their second Kentucky location and fourth restaurant overall’s doors earlier this summer in Louisville after previously opening up shop in Lexington, Kentucky, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Senoia, Georgia. The small restaurant chain is a passion project of Reedus and Nicotero’s aimed at creating special moments. Their website says they realize most special moments happen beyond the screen, and often at a meal with friends and family.
Besides the Louisville Burger Week specialty burger the restaurant also offers a variety of flatbreads, soups, salads, gourmet burgers, and other entrees such as the Coca-Cola Braised Pork Shank and Brisket Mac and Cheese. They also offer a large assortment of sides including sidewinder fries, onion rings, and cajun cream corn just to name a few.—Gracie Vanover
And the Winner- Scott Recker aka LEO’s Former
editor-in-chief and brave digital madness wrangler
Agave & Rye
“The Racy Miss Tasty”
As you can tell by the picture, this burger has a lot going on. The deep-fried beef patty is covered in crunchy ramen noodles. There’s a fried egg and strips of bacon that add a breakfast element. And chunky salsa, taquito cheese and Agave & Rye’s signature comeback sauce provide a lot of pop. It’s like that one — and probably only — time after a night out at the bars when you Frankensteined everything in the fridge and pantry together and it actually ended brilliantly. You know, the virtual opposite of when you let a frozen pizza cook for three and a half hours.
Generally, I gravitate toward classic smash burgers — simple, effective, not a hockey puck of meat covered with ingredients that I can’t pronounce. But, it’s burger week, a great time to explore a few strange and adventurous options. “The Racy Miss Tasty” is unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. Because of the crunch from the ramen, it almost doesn’t seem like you’re eating a burger, but instead some totally new sandwich. But, even through various layers of eccentricity, the taste itself is never overwhelming. The sauces even out the dryness that the ramen adds to the burger; the breakfast element plays well with the crunch; there’s a little spice and a lot of flavor without it becoming an unpleasant rollercoaster.
If your idea of Burger Week is to grab a classic on a discount, “The Racy Miss Tasty” obviously probably isn’t for you. But, if your idea of Burger Week is to try out the wildest burger out there, don’t miss this one. Because I’ll likely never order a ramen-coated burger in my life again, but I’m so glad I tried this. That’s one of the exciting things about Burger Week — it can drag you outside of your comfort zone in really interesting ways. —Scott Recker