Now that football is over and Mardi Gras has past, the weekends have pretty much opened up for us to accomplish all of those fun things that we have been putting off for the last few months. Clean the gutters, trim the hedges, organize your wine collection, make a couple of trips to Home Depot or maybe even Bed, Bath, & Beyond if you have enough time.
Unfortunately, during this time of year you are also likely to find yourself near the intersection of Causeway and Veterans Blvd., otherwise known as the Metry Bermuda Triangle, where both time and cash have been known to disappear without a trace. Didn't think that it was possible to spend 2 hours waiting in the lobby at Earthsavers or outside the dressing room at Jean Therapy? Perplexed at why a woman would "need" 5 pairs of shoes from Nine West and 6 dresses from Ann Taylor for the 3 spring weddings on her upcoming calendar?
Don't ask questions. Just surrender your credit card, and go forth in search of lunch.
And why not reward your sufferance with one of life's simple pleasures? Phil's Grill was at the forefront of the local burger movement and succeeds in delivering not only a strong to quite strong burger but also a classic burger experience. It's a place where kids can entertain themselves at the table with coloring pages, but mom and dad don't have to settle for the standards of Ronald McDonald. And while you won't find many customers wearing fedoras or menu manifestos on the heritage of the cattle, you will be dining on a burger worthy of hipster approval. Just don't expect to find an easily available parking space - this is Metry and Lakeside, after all.
Phil's menu allows you to customize your burger in an infinite number of combinations or choose from a list of signature burgers which have pre-determined toppings for those who get overwhelmed with too many choices. On my most recent visit, I constructed my burger in the classic style, with a standard black angus patty topped with shredded cheddar, garlic aioli, shredded lettuce (although I could have chose whole leaf romaine), and pickles built upon a soft white bun which is similar to a bakery style deli roll but more resilient than a styrofoam sesame seed bun. The beef is coarsely ground and has a good fat to lean ratio; making for a juicy and flavorful 7(ish)oz. patty. I order my burgers medium rare and TFS takes hers medium, and at Phil's there was a distinct difference between both color and moisture between the two, which shows an attention to detail to temperature preference.
The price of the build-your-own burger also includes your choice of side. French fries are a squared off steak fry which are soft and greasy, which I kind of like in a it's-not-vogue kind of way. The onion rings are even better, with a crunch batter surrounding thin strings of red onion. $10 per person before tip ain’t a bad deal, or for $6 more you can indulge in one of the handmade shakes.
We took our meal at the bar on a recent Saturday, and Phil himself was tending bar, taking phone orders, and chatting up the customers. He asked a couple seated next to us, "So, where is the best burger in Gulfport?" After the couple responded by listing a number of "dive bars" located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Phil offered a tidbit of information which I think speak volumes of the mantra behind his restaurant:
"Yeah, in New Orleans, the burgers have always been served in bars. But, you know, you can't bring kids into a bar, so that's partly why I opened this place."
A kid-friendly establishment which serves a burger worthy of a bar. Phil could not have said it better himself.
Phil's Grill - Birdie
3020 Severn Ave.
Open Daily at 11am. Sun-Thur till 9pm; Fri-Sat till 10pm.