Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review: Laci's Burger Joint

Name: Laci's Burger Joint
Address: 2700 James St, Syracuse, NY
Neighborhood: Eastwood
Cuisine: Burgers, Traditional American
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 AM to 7 PM
Parking: On-Street and Private Lot
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Take Out: Yes

Opened in the fall of 2008 in Eastwood, Laci's Burger Joint is Syracuse's newest burger restaurant. The James Street building itself was at one time a White Tower. Since then, it has changed hands quite a few times. More history about the Eastwood location can be found here and here.

The interior is very small, but definitely cozy and welcoming enough where you don't feel cramped. You'll only find a few stools and tables inside (maybe 7 seats tops?). Just a heads up if you plan on going there with a few people.

There was only one employee behind the counter who was grilling, taking orders, and answering phone calls. It wasn't that busy of a night, but I thought he at least deserves a hat tip on this blog post for doing his job(s) well and with a positive attitude. As someone who once worked at a college deli on his own and thought it was hellish, doing one, much less all three simultaneously on a Saturday night, can be enough to drive you batty sometimes. Mondo props.

It's predominantly burgers and fries on the menu, but they also have things like a soup-of-the-day, smoothies, and fried fish on Fridays. All nine of the burgers on the menu sounded good - especially the Hot Mama Burger (with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese) and the 'Cuse Burger (with velvetta, 1,000 Island dressing and coleslaw). Laci's also boasts a create-your-own burger known as the Diva Burger, but I thought I go with the one at the top of the menu and what sounded like the house special.

The order...

Laci's Burger with Waffle Fries: $6.95
Total Money Spent with Tax & Tip: $8

The waffle fries were OK. Nice and crunchy, but nothing spectacular. The portion was good, but I thought the fries could have used some salt. I couldn't taste any on there.

Pictured here is the Laci's burger with rosemary mayo, feta cheese, roasted red peppers, lettuce and tomato.

First off, I love the black and white checkered wrapping that comes with the burger and fries. It gave the meal that old-school vibe. That being said, I did like this burger. It was a good portion size and I really liked the buns (soft, airy, and almost gourmet-tasting). However, I thought the inside of the meat could have been juicier and the outside of the meat could have been crunchier. Perhaps it was not salt and peppered enough before being thrown on the grill? Or the heat could have been turned up higher? At any rate, something about the burger was slightly mushy - though that could have been due to the feta which was watery and made it a little drippy. I think it could have used some pickles for brightness and snap and more rosemary in the mayo as it didn't really provide that much presence. Overall though, I thought it was tasty. Sweet roasted red peepers with crunchy lettuce and fresh tomatoes. Thumbs up.

I would say that the conceptual aspect of the menu is great, but I think some of the ingredients of the nine main burgers need to be slightly tweaked. For instance, they don't put onions on their burgers. Though I'm sure you can ask for them, I thought that was crazy. They're still a young restaurant, so I'm willing to cut them some slack on the minor tweaks. I think it would go a long way if they added a veggie burger of some kind. Also, a Friday or Saturday late night offering of burgers would be an amazing addition for Syracuse. I feel like they could really ring up some more businesses if they had a small and quick late night menu of just a few burgers (or maybe even mini-burgers or sliders?) available until 2 AM for that rowdy, late night crowd. But that's just my opinion.

Of course taste is a huge part of the realm when reviewing a restaurant, but conception and originality are vital elements too. Laci's has found a really nice formula of putting out fresh burgers quickly. Despite being relatively new to the Syracuse restaurant scene, I think that they do the "burger joint" thing very well. They've also found an good niche for it here in Syracuse. Without a doubt I will be going back.

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