2 Fleur
Average check per person $5-$15
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Phil’s Grill

Harahan: 1640 Hickory Ave. 504-305-1705. Map.
Very Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Phil’s Grill exploits the deep-seated love we all have for hamburgers to an extent and with a success that would have been hard to imagine a few years ago. Phil’s nudges up the quality of the raw materials, cooks everything to order, and lets customers customize from an astonishing array of meats and condiments. The result is a hamburger superior to ninety percent of the burgers sold in America. However, that’s not quite high enough to top the hamburger you could make at home if you put even a little extra effort into the job.

WHAT’S GOOD
They use good fresh meats. That’s “meats,” because they’re not limited to beef. Any sandwich than can be put on a bun qualifies as a hamburger here. And so we find, for example, June 2010’s Burger of the Month: the pad thai burger, made with shredded Thai-flavored chicken with peanut-sauced slaw, all atop a turkey burger. Good move: even people who wouldn’t dream of getting such a thing find the idea of it adds sparkle to the plain old cheeseburger they wind up with. The more conventional burgers are better than Houston’s or the Camellia Grill’s, not as good as Bud’s or Port of Call’s or Lakeview Harbor’s. Best part: improved buns–notably the onion roll. Consistency is imperfect. And at prices closing in on $10 a burger, it’s not as good as it should be. I’ve never escaped this place spending less than $35 for two. For hamburgers?

BACKSTORY
Throughout the national recession, one segment of the restaurant business continued to grow explosively. It’s what the industry calls the “better burger” shop, in which various hallmarks of quality (thickness, freshness, and variety) are touted as prices multiply by factors of from three to five. Chains like Five Guys and Fatburger haven’t found their way here (because they’re too afraid of us and our environment), so a few local operators have done well filling the gap. After working in chain restaurant management for a number of years, Phil de Gruy opened Phil’s Grill early in 2007. A second location briefly existed in Mandeville; a second second location is now open in Hammond.

DINING ROOM
The bright dining room is walled mostly by glass, but it feels more like a neighborhood cafe than a burger joint. Which is good, because they do cook everything to order, and you will have to wait, even if you get a table right away. Which you probably won’t, because the place has become very popular. A crowd is often seen milling around in the parking lot.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Fried pickle chips
Fried onion strings
Potato skins
Zucchini fries
Fried mushrooms
Black bean & turkey chili
Cheese fries
Salads, sides or entrees, topped with a wide variety of garnishes
Hamburgers, with your choice of 21 sauces, six kinds of buns, 24 toppings, 12 cheeses, and 10 side dishes:
Black Angus beef burger
Bison burger
Combination beef and hot sausage
Lamb burger
Open-face burger with gravy
Alligator burger
Turkey burger
Veggie or mushroom burger
Shakes
Fried banana split
Cookie sundae

FOR BEST RESULTS
The most distinctive item on the menu is the bison burger. It tastes like beef to me, but the fat level is lower. Insist that it be medium rare: bison tightens up. The more exotic combinations I’ve tried were more interesting than good. But it could be said that it’s my fault because I chose something weird.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The most glaring ordinariness is in the French fries. Want to make them special? They should be cut from fresh potatoes.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment -1
  • Consistency
  • Service
  • Value +1
  • Attitude
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness
  • Local Color +1

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open some holidays
  • Open all afternoon
  • Quick, good meal
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking

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