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April 22, 2008 4:41 PM

Two Bells Burgers: love 'em. You?

Posted by Nancy Leson

There are people who go to the Two Bells , just off the corner of Fourth and Bell, to sit at the scarred bar and hoist a beer. Or meet their business-pals for the day's sandwich special (egg salad, grilled Reuben). Some even show up for Sunday brunch. I go -- but no where near as often as I should -- for lunch, to see just how well a fresh baguette can hold up to the fabulous fat that pours from the Bells' appropriately "famous" burgers. The answer: very well, thank you. Now you might suggest that a burger on a baguette is not a burger, but trust me, you'd be wrong. Besides, that baguette, baked right up the block at Boulangerie Nantaise and strengthened by plenty of whole wheat, turns what might otherwise be a glorious mess into a visually elegant one: a two thick-napkin extravaganza of beefy ground round:

My friend Marc eyeballed the heap of sauteed mushrooms that escorted his Mushroom Burger ($9.95), then finally gave up trying to eat it in a gentlemanly fashion, instead, hoisting and attacking. He could have had chips, slaw, baked beans or soup alongside, but he's a sucker for that potato salad (a chunky classic of the genre). And while I'm with him on the potato salad, I'm frequently swayed by the soup -- old-fashioned diner-style renditions of everything from navy bean to clam chowder to the (not so) French onion I spooned today whose onions cried out for a far longer saute. But who's complainin'? Not me. Not after I lit into my favorite among the half-dozen burgers offered here, slathered with a mix of crumbly blue cheese and cracked black pepper ($9.95) melting into that baguette with its schmear of mayo and mustard:

Enjoyed with a bottle of Boylan's black cherry soda ($2.50), it's why, when it comes to burgers, Two Bells rings my chimes.

Now dish it: Which burger (and burger joint) does the same for you?

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