TERRY’S PICKY PALATE / A bacon cheeseburger and a salad at Hazel’s Grill, at the Bourbon Street Pub

BY TERRY SCHMIDA

KONK LIFE STAFF WRITER

And now . . . for something completely different!

This column gets around. Over the past year or so I’ve devoured my way through meals at gas station lunch counters, fine dining rooms, seafood shacks, and Italian spaghetti joints.

For the first time, however, I’m going to take readers on a journey to a forbidden zone (to women anyway,) for a quick lunch at Hazel’s Grill, located by the pool at the Garden Bar of the Bourbon Street Pub complex, at 724 Duval St.

Hazel’s has been going strong for the past nine years on the strength of owner “Hazel” Auman’s flair for dressing up burgers, dogs, and simple chicken dishes with tasty (and occasional homemade) ingredients, and the names of some of Key West’s most beloved downtown personalities, from the past through present.

Ironically, given that the restaurant is named for Shirley Booth’s “Hazel” character in the eponymous 1960s TV show, the eatery’s location, among sunbathing naked, men means that ladies may only sample Hazel’s mouth-watering fare if they order delivery in the area within immediate proximity to the iconic bar. It’s an unusual policy but it also adds an amusing and welcome element of naughtiness to my visit.

For my meal I went with the Deja’s Chef Salad, and the RV Cheese Burger, a nod to the late 801 drag queen RV Beaumont.

The salad is loaded with juicy blackened chicken breast, crisp bacon, and fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, boiled egg, and American cheese, and homemade blue cheese dressing. It’s a winner, and a meal that can be served without the meat for vegetarian diners.

“Some of my customers were asking for vegetarian meals, so there are a few things on the menu that can be made that way,” Auman said. “This salad is very popular with or without the meat.”

Turning to my RV Cheese Burger I couldn’t help but smile, recalling its namesake’s often outrageously funny stage antics. RV also loved pigs and that’s the reason, Auman said, for the bacon between the buns.

“Desiray (another local \drag queen) actually created that one,” Auman said of the yummy burger, which also includes 100 percent ground chuck, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion, and homemade Thousand Islands dressing. “It’s kind of like a Whopper meets a Big Mac, and I’m told I’m one of the only places on the island to serve crinkle-cut fries with my burgers.”

I loved the fries, doused as they were, in buffalo wing sauce, contributing to the explosion of both flavor – and color – present in both my dishes.

“The presentation is very important to me,” Auman said, with a twinkle in his eyes. “My motto is ‘if it doesn’t look good, it doesn’t taste good.’”

I’m sure Shirley Booth would agree.

 

CUTLINE:

Owner “Hazel” Auman serving up goodness at his eatery, located poolside at the Garden Bar, at the Bourbon Street Pub.

 

Hazel’s Grill is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for Mondays, (which is laundry day.) Cash only accepted.

For more information, call 305-304-0223 or visit https://www.facebook.com/hazel.auman.7

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