Lucky’s 13 Pub not so lucky

Published November 3, 2011, in MSUM’s, The Advocate


One evening, I decided to pay Lucky’s 13 Pub a visit during supper time. The burger I ordered bore a striking resemblance to one I could have grilled myself on the George Foreman “Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine” in my apartment.

I hadn’t ordered just any old burger. No. I ordered what I thought would be Lucky’s novelty burger – The Cheesecurd Burger.  Though my arteries were warning me it wasn’t a good idea, I ordered it anyway.  When I saw the title on the menu, I imagined a decadent presentation of hot, crispy cheese curds drizzled in some tantalizing sauce atop crispy ham and a juicy beef patty, all of which were seasoned to perfection, resting on a perfectly grilled bun. What I got was quite the contrary, a great disappointment to my eyes and taste buds.

When the waitress (who rarely stopped by) brought me my meal, I had that anticipatory salivation. This sometimes happens to me when I know I’m going to receive a tasty treat like a dog yearning for a Milkbone or a Beggin’ Strip.

Then, I saw it – my burger that looked like it had been sitting out for a few hours, lacking any of its natural juices. Sure enough, it tasted exactly how it looked, though the salt and pepper surprised me. It looked so dreary I had imagined it tasteless before I bit in.

With a heavy combination of salt and black pepper, the rough texture of the medium-well patty I ordered made me reminisce on lake days gone by when quick, plain burgers are eaten hurriedly – with some sort of large beverage so you don’t choke – before jumping back in the lake.  These were the burgers your mom forced you to eat so you didn’t go the whole day without something of substance in your stomach.

The presentation was also lackluster. On top of the dried, compressed beef were a few cheesecurds and leathery little strips of ham. Nothing stayed on the bun other than the patty, so I sat there, grabbing little strips of leather here, a cheesecurd there and parched bites of burger in-between. After waiting for 10 minutes, I eventually had to go on a search for some sort of sauce so I could taste something other than blandness. The hostess eventually brought me ketchup. Fifteen to 20   minutes later, my waitress came back, and I asked for some ranch.

Though their sweet potato fries tasted all right, they were comparable to the frozen varieties you can purchase at any grocery store. As someone who loves fries made of sweet potatoes, I was disappointed with Lucky’s yet again.

The cheesecurds were, without a doubt, the best part of the meal, though I did love the kind of ice they used in the water – the pebble kind, the stuff that easily crunches in your mouth. The curds were crispy and salty on the outside with somewhat chewy cheese on the inside. They tasted exactly like the ones my brother bought at the flea market this past summer.Wisconsin would be proud.

The meal was large, which I appreciated and used as leftovers for other eating times the next day, especially since I spent $10.99 for this dry beast (plus an extra dollar to substitute the regular French fries for the sweet potato fries).

Lucky’s 13 Pub consisted of a surprising conglomeration of ages, from early 20s to 60- somethings, but the main age of patrons appeared to be in their early 30s. The dimly-lit atmosphere of brick walls and big-screen TVs with the bar in the middle of the open, yet crowded, space tried to deliver an appealing scene of classic meets modern. It appeared to be somewhat sophisticated, yet casual enough to have CNN or the football game playing like it would be in the majority of the local patrons’ homes.

Though many of the comfortably living ex-football players and their wives who go there on a regular basis likely find it hip and alluring, it seemed too commercial and forced.

The space and décor had no character other than the attempt it made to look like every other restaurant or bar of its type. Most eateries want the vintage charm of memorabilia created two years ago from a factory that ships to Gordman’s every two weeks.

Perhaps it was an off night when I stopped by for an extended visit (extended due to the slow service I received).  Maybe their other menu items are delicious and deserve a pat on the patty. However, judging from the food I tried, it was nothing to write home about, unless you’re sending a warning to your parents saying, “Don’t bother. There’s better food at home in the freezer.”

With any luck, Lucky’s will redeem itself before you order anything made of beef or sweet potatoes, if you bother to go at all.

I do highly recommend the ice though.



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