by Scott Gold
Tommy Cvitanovich and his family are well known in New Orleans for their deep love of open flame cooking. The charbroiled oysters at Drago's Restaurant have become, at this point, something of legend (the eatery even has its own fire truck, and ships charbroiled oyster kits nation-wide). So it's no surprise that Cvitanovich's newest venture also capitalizes on live fire cooking, but this time, it's not bivalves, but beef: Fire House Burgers, a flame-grilled hamburger restaurant will open in Metairie this Monday, January 13th.
"I’ve always loved burgers," said Cvitanovich. "It's always been one of my favorite meals, whether it’s one of those great burgers at Port of Call or a drive-in, fast food burger. I remember going to the Ground Pat'i and having their burgers and drinking out of those pewter mugs. It’s just something I’ve loved my whole life."
The burgers at Fire House will, of course, be cooked over an open flame. Said Cvitanovich, "The key to a great burger is the fire, whether it’s Bud’s Broiler, Ground Pat'i, or the way I do it on my grill at home. But of course I also gotta 'Drago-cize' it and put our butter garlic sauce on it. Leidenheimer is also making a special bun for us, one that’s a little bit sweet on the inside and nice and crusty on the outside."
The heart-stopping menu doesn't end with garlic-butter burgers fashioned from house-ground Black Angus beef. Aside from the standard house hamburger, expect a bacon-swiss mushroom cheeseburger, a "Tex-Mex burger" topped with chili, fried onions and cheese, and a special burger that forgoes the traditional bun in favor of two grilled cheese sandwiches, which will certainly not be for the faint of heart.
"Then of course we have our Inferno Burger,' with jalapeños, cream cheese and a spicy butter garlic sauce, which is really good as well," Cvitanovich said.
As for sides, Fire House will offer house cut fries (with garlic and truffle flavor options), as well as a novel approach to nachos, employing handmade potato chips loaded up with cheddar, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole.
Those looking for healthier options will find a turkey burger on the menu, as well, and, according to Cvitanovich, "We make our own veggie burgers. When you look at it, you’ll see the corn and chickpeas and sunflower seeds, as well as fresh spinach, and we also cook that on the char-grill."
The location itself also has special significance to the chef and restaurateur. "It used to be the old Ski Lodge bar“ he said. "I used to party here back in Fat City’s heyday. It was really one of my favorite neighborhood bars.” Most recently, the space housed Fat City Franks, which had to shut its doors. Cvitanovich purchased the restaurant from former owner Allen Bryant, and even brought Bryant in as a partner in the new venture.
Fire House Burgers is located at 3224 Edenborn St. in Metairie. It will initially open for dinner service daily from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. beginning this Monday, January 13th (they will be closed on Sundays). Lunch service and later hours will follow in the coming weeks.
Said Cvitanovich, "I want to take my time with the opening, and make sure we do this right. And I really do envision other Fire House Burgers in town.”