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Louis Lunch

263 Crown St., New Haven, CT - (203) 562-5507
Posted By Nomi Lubin on 11/9/2006 12:05:00 PM
I grew up in New Haven and ate at Louis many times over the last thirty years. It was great for most of those years. But the last couple of times I've gone there, it's been disappointing. I hate to be writing this about a place that should be so perfect in every way. But I've found the burgers increasingly tasteless the last three visits (which took place during the last two or three years).

The last time was just a couple of months ago and it was the worst. The burger was almost ... I don't know, ground cardboard-like. I'm not kidding. I don't get it at all. When I was a kid I worked at a shoe repair shop that is right around the corner (1989-93). When my boss would send me to get us lunch at Louis', it was such a treat. Now, I just don't know what to say. This last time it was like, well, let's give it another chance; those other times must have just been off days. But when the last time was the worst of all, well I had to face that something seems to have changed.

I wrote in my ratings that I would not return, but probably at some point I will want to check again. It's mystifying; nothing seems to have changed. Except the taste. And my husband was with me all of these last times and knows the place too and had the same very disappointed reaction.

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Scorecard

1 - Overall: Won't Eat Again
Overall: Won't Eat Again
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One cheeseburger, with Louis's works, which are onions (grilled into the burger as it cooks) and sliced tomato.  Ketchup is forbidden at Louis lunch.
"One cheeseburger, with Louis's works, which are onions (grilled into the burger as it cooks) and sliced tomato. Ketchup is forbidden at Louis lunch."
Michael Stern





Louis Lassen III explained to us that he once tried to use a machine to make the burger patties, but it ruined their flavor and texture.  Today, as in the beginning, each hamburger is hand-formed.
"Louis Lassen III explained to us that he once tried to use a machine to make the burger patties, but it ruined their flavor and texture. Today, as in the beginning, each hamburger is hand-formed."
Michael Stern


Bread for burgers is still toasted the old-fashioned way at Louis.  Of course, there are no buns for burgers ... because hamburger buns had not yet been invented when Louis Lassen invented the hamburger.
"Bread for burgers is still toasted the old-fashioned way at Louis. Of course, there are no buns for burgers ... because hamburger buns had not yet been invented when Louis Lassen invented the hamburger."
Michael Stern


These metal broilers are what give Louis Lunch hamburgers a succulence inside their crunchy exterior. Note how a knife is used to keep the door latched on the left broiler.  That's been the technique for at least the three decades we've been eating Louis' burgers!
"These metal broilers are what give Louis Lunch hamburgers a succulence inside their crunchy exterior. Note how a knife is used to keep the door latched on the left broiler. That's been the technique for at least the three decades we've been eating Louis' burgers! "
Michael Stern


The original Louis Lassen at his lunch counter some time in the 'teens.  That's the SAME counter at which customers dine today.
"The original Louis Lassen at his lunch counter some time in the 'teens. That's the SAME counter at which customers dine today."
Michael Stern


Vintage graffiti scratched into a Louis table. Graffiti on the counter dates back almost a century!
"Vintage graffiti scratched into a Louis table. Graffiti on the counter dates back almost a century!"
Michael Stern


Freshly-painted Louis on a bright winter day. Jeff Lassen told us that the family now owns the property on which Louis sits, so no matter what sort of urban renewal happens around it, Louis is not going anywhere.
"Freshly-painted Louis on a bright winter day. Jeff Lassen told us that the family now owns the property on which Louis sits, so no matter what sort of urban renewal happens around it, Louis is not going anywhere."
Michael Stern


Louis Lunch is tiny.  Expect to wait for a seat during lunch hour.
"Louis Lunch is tiny. Expect to wait for a seat during lunch hour."
Michael Stern



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