After spending one sweltering afternoon working some particularly hard labor, my hankering had grown to insatiable proportions. Next on my Northwest Louisiana Burger Tour for Heliopolis was Blue Southern Comfort Foods & Ice Cream Parlor, a fledgling restaurant on the corner of Fairfield Ave. and Pierremont Rd. in Shreveport. With an intrepid mouthful of a name (simply Blue for short) and a menu in such a young stage of live-development that it’s printed on pieces of letter-sized printer paper, this local joint has built a quick reputation for itself as a premium bar, for their likewise imbued frozen treats and ice creams, and has been recommended to me for my tour for several weeks now because of their lengthy selection of burgers.
And now finally it’s happening.
Inside, the lighting was surprisingly bright, so I elected to sit at the bar. There I struck up conversation and caught up on good times with bartender and fellow stand-up comedian Josh Prothro.
He offered me a menu and narrated that Blue offers a variety of burgers; even some vegetarian options for the herbivorously inclined, especially the Mushroom Burger, which I admit was my first instinct as I’ve been meaning to dive in on a less conventional style. Josh had other ideas however, and very enthusiastically suggested the Blue Burger: “Topped with two slices melted Swiss cheese and candied bacon.”
Quite baffled, I couldn’t help but ask, “Swiss cheese? It’s a Blue Burger in a Blue restaurant named Blue — why of all the cheeses on this Blue marble of ours would you not top this burger with Roquefort?”
Though Josh and I could not agree on his opinion that a blue cheese would not pair well with the candied bacon, I am not one to dispute such a fervent recommendation. “The one that made us famous,” the menu claimed. Perhaps naively, I am inclined to trust such a boast.
While I waited for my burger — and because I could not make up my mind between the french fries or the coleslaw as a side — I was offered a sample of the latter. Not one to pass on the opportunity, I took a chance to at least get to write about it. Though the slaw was pleasantly on the sweet-side despite having a tangy horseradish bite, the primary crunchy cabbage texture and mayonnaise base harkened memories of family reunions and barbecues at Bistineau; it wasn’t unpalatable, but came far from knocking my socks off, so I chose the french fries.
Soon after, my burger came. I am often impressed by particularly good presentation, and I even admit to being a bit of a stickler when it comes to it — not unjustifiably so, I believe: the top-bun was slid intentionally to the side to reveal the candied bacon topping and melted swiss cheese, but not so much out of the way that it covered the optional lettuce and tomato. I subscribe to the timeless adage, “The first bite is with the eye,” and my first “bite” of the Blue Burger was a good one.
The french fries that I had passed on the coleslaw for were obviously (lovingly) hand-cut, with odd shapes and uneven widths in such a way that might suggest the chef had been listening to music and might have tried to imbue the tune and beat into their chop. The potatoes were, however, starchy and limp. Though their flaccidity is not at all a deal breaker, the starch offered a familiar bitter flavor that was helped by neither the salt that I added to them, nor the oil that they had been fried in. This was a similar issue that I experienced with the Truffle Fries at Highland Table, and a problem that I have been battling in my own french fry adventures at home.
Not one to miss a potentially vital ingredient, I added the lettuce and tomato to the pile of candied bacon jam and closed up the burger. Of the things that I noticed immediately were that my top bun was more over-done than I might normally care for, nearly burnt really, but more importantly that there were no onions. Maybe this was intentional. Maybe the person that designed this burger thought that a sharp onion flavor would subtract from the bacon jam, much like Josh thought that blue cheese would.
After taking a few bites and pausing to write some adjectives down in my notebook, a few conclusions were met: chiefly, that this candied bacon jam was spectacular. I’ve been experimenting with candying my own bacon for years with limited success, and I know how difficult it is to get the right consistency without burning the syrup or undercooking the pork. The syrup had a light, fruity savor, carefully measured not to overpower (or be taken by) the salted character of the cured pork, which had been fried crispy and chopped into a chunky slurry — a convenient texture to convey via burger. It tasted and felt how I’ve always wished that mine could. My hat is off to this chef for accomplishing this feat.
Several bites in I determined that Josh was wrong about the blue cheese, because I ordered a side cup of it to add to my burger despite his recommendations, and it was wonderful. The inside of the sandwich was still hot and sticky with the syrupy jam which, when combined with the cold crumble of the dry blue cheese made for a heavenly texture. I would actually recommend swapping the swiss cheese for blue cheese entirely.
About halfway through enjoying the Blue Burger, however, I noticed that I was really mostly enjoying just the bacon; a sudden and disappointing realization. Without the candied bacon jam, this hamburger actually seemed to be missing a lot of ingredients and flavors that might invoke a semblance of burger. It had the meat and the bread, it even had the cheese, the tomato, and the lettuce (though there could have at least been more of that), but the meat could have been more heavily seasoned, and a mustard or some other tertiary relish or condiment would have helped. The sandwich relied heavily on the bacon jam’s character, which I almost would rather have had as a topping on a salad.
Don’t let this dissuade you from visiting Blue Southern Comfort Foods & Ice Cream Parlor. They have many other burgers and other exciting items on their ever-changing menu. It may be that one of the other burgers fits a more satisfying hamburger category without putting all of the flavor eggs in one bacon-weave basket. Their Facebook page is frequently updated with new menu items and changes, so keep your eyes peeled for the burger, ice cream treat, or drink special that’s right for you!