Lexie's Joint is a small burger nook on Islington Street in the former home of MoJo's BBQ. The "Peace-Love-Burgers" vibe is very welcoming, but there's more to to it than that: children's crayon drawings hang from the walls, a few TVs pass the time and a small table near the ordering counter presents a stack of foodie tomes for browsing. About the counter—it's there if you want it (or want to gaze in at the burgers being griddled), but owner Lexie herself (Alexis Wile) will take your order at your table and bring the food out when ready. Seating consists of a few hightop tables with stools and a long dining counter by the window. A small selection of beer and wine is available.
Lexie's Joint uses the now-classic Martin's potato roll, a famously soft and reliable vessel that also houses a few of my other favorite burgers. (Yes, why wait to say it, Lexie's is now one of my favorites.) These are buttered and griddled to give them a slight crispness and a more-than-slight richness that works very well with the beef.
The 4-ounce patties are hand formed and very loosely packed, then griddled and seasoned to yield a lightly crunchy crust and extremely tender, juicy meat. Even after cutting each burger in half (I shared four different burgers on my first visit), I encountered juice explosions on some of the first bites, and the moisture content remained high from beginning to end on all. The flavor of this beef is simple yet extraordinary. Maybe it's the unabashed salting, maybe it's the texture, but even with a myriad of toppings, the beef emerges as the true star of every burger creation at Lexie's.
After my first meal at Lexie's Joint, I grilled (or should I say "griddled") owner/cook KC Cargill about the composition of the grind, but to no avail: he claims that there's nothing special about the meat itself, only about the cooking. Although cuts like shortrib, brisket and flank might make their way into a new blend at a larger Lexie's space in the future, none of them is present in what they use today.
I like that the toppings are diverse and creative but are secondary to the meat and work in harmony with the meat. On all three burgers that included cheese, it was melted beautifully. Of the two with bacon, one was brittle/crumbled and one was served with whole strips.
Here's the run-down of the four burgers I tried:
Stairway to Heaven ($6): From the moment I first set eyes on the menu I was knew I was getting this, as it's made with braised beef shortribs, Cheddar, BBQ sauce (which I omitted) and caramelized onions. I was half hoping the shortribs would be what got ground into the burger, but as a pulled meat topping it was no slouch. What I liked about this burger—beside the beefiness, juiciness and overall flavor intensity—was that the toppings weren't just a collection of ingredients, but one cohesive whole. I liked the bumpy surface too.
H-Bomb ($5.50): This Saturday special tops the standard burger with BBQ sauce, Cheddar, bacon (torn), spicy meatloaf and jalapenos. Once again, I omitted the BBQ sauce. Once again, it was meat-on-meat with the result a cohesive whole, though the tartness and heat of the jalapenos made them stand out. Oddly, I tasted onion in there—maybe it was part of the meatloaf. In retrospect, this was probably too similar a choice to the Stairway to Heaven, which I liked more, but I liked both.
Plain Jane ($4): This is just your simple burger, where the most basic toppings can be added for a surcharge: cheese is 25 cents; bacon is 20 cents. After seeing the online menu prior to the visit, I thought, "I'll order the Plain Jane with cheese and a dollar's worth of bacon, just to see how it comes out." I'm glad I didn't. No, this Plane Jane was ordered as plain as possible: no cheese, no bacon, no anything except beef and bun. This turned out to be the most magnificent creation of all, and it needed no ketchup. Just pure, unadulterated beef flavor (okay, cow flavor, since a little butter was also involved).
Peanut Butter Burger: Actually, I'm not sure what the exact name for this burger is, because it's not on the menu. When my burger buddy and I were deciding which burger to choose for our final selection, we went with Lexie's recommendation of this hidden, off-the-menu creation. I've had peanut butter on burgers before (KC's Rib Shack in Manchester makes a good one), but this one best understood the pecking order, with beef the star and peanut butter a decadent accent. That the meat was cooked perfectly was as much of the success as the peanut butter. The bacon was an accentuated accent on this one, with extra crisp, extra pink, hot and still bubbling strips.
The Fries (and such)
We ordered onion rings but received fries by mistake, so we just added them on. I only mention this detail because without having ordered them, I'm not sure if the fries were the Parmesan herb fries listed on the menu or plain ones that I did not see on the menu. They tasted like standard fries—similar to McDonald's, only darker and with skins. Crispness was moderate. Onion rings arrived soon after, looking pale but tasting crispy. These were straight out of clam shack central casting.
The Bottom Line
Simply put, Lexie's Joint is one of the best in its class, reliably turning out burgers that are affordable, perfectly cooked, aggressively seasoned and among the juiciest you'll ever exerience. Whether topped to the hilt or served straight up, the beef comes through in spades. I can't wait to try them again.
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