The Nook: Saint Paul, MN
After driving around for an hour and wasting $3 on parking for no reason other than the fact that I can't read, we made our way over to The Nook for lunch on Saturday afternoon. We had originally intended on trying out American Burger Bar for lunch, but "Guido", standing outside informed us that they do not open until 4 on the weekends. Once we arrived at The Nook and sat down at the bar, the wife turned to me after picking up a menu and asked me why and the hell I wanted to come here. She had no idea that it was exactly the same as Shamrocks we had just visited a few weeks earlier. I explained to her that I wanted to compare the two places to see if what everyone says is true, about the grill and all.
So I ordered a Red Hook Mudslinger and my Juicy Nookie Burger. The wife thought I should go with the Paul Molitor Burger instead, but I wanted to compare apples to apples since my first experience over at Shamrocks wasn't the best. The wife inquired about the burger of the month, a burger with avocado, bacon and some other stuff piled on it, and ordered that along with her Diet Coke. Meanwhile we got first hand experience of sitting in this neighborhood dive bar. We chatted back and fourth with the people sitting around us along with the three bartenders/wait staff. The grill reminded me of a more deluxe version of that over at Adrian's Tavern. Sitting right next to the bar, the only difference was that they actually had a kitchen of some sort at The Nook.
So the burgers arrived and I dug in. I don't know if it was that I was so hungry as it was already nearing 2:30 and I hadn't eaten all day or the fact that it really was that good. The Nookie burger over at The Nook was a thousand times better than the one at Shamrocks. The cheese was more liquefied and ran like a Lucy should. The wife thought her burger was excellent and could not even compare it to the thing she received over at Shamrock's. Maybe the grill is the difference, but I think not.
My two cents on why The Nook's burger is better than its equal just down the road is this: Shamrocks is not a local neighborhood bar like The Nook, they do not share the same values or the same concept, just the same menu and owners. Shamrocks is more of a bandwagon bar to get the masses through the door on a Wild game night along with that one day a year called St. Patrick's Day. The Nook is your neighborhood hang out with friendly staff who have a system down that works very well in the confined quarters they have to work with. Over at Shamrock's, you are treated as just another person that walked through the door, now leave me 20% and get out! The Nook is also well-known for serving up some good Juicy Lucy's. People come here just for a Juicy while people are heading over to Shamrocks for the free ride to and from the Wild game and to drop $40 on a snack and a few beers. Bottom line is this, The Nook has a great Lucy and Shamrock's needs to send their cooks up the road for some cooking 101 from the real guys that know what's going on.