Dubuque: The Right Stuffing 

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Dubuque
548 Court Street, Carroll Gardens. 4 out of 5 L's

So, let's get a couple of things straight: The name of this Court Street burger joint is supposed to be an acronym for Down Under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. However, the first letters of those words actually spell out "DUtBQE," and the place is called "Dubuque." If this irks your inner copy editor, shift your focus to the dried-out cornstalks in the window. They seem to nod to Dubuque, Iowa, where one might assume the fields are filled with corn. But is the city of Dubuque known for its food, asks your inner fact checker? Oh, my fastidious friend, let's not ponder this any further. The burgers here are interesting enough to distract you from taxonomical confusion.

They've got a basic beef burger that can be dressed up with cheese and applewood-smoked bacon, and their specialties are almost as creative as our waiter's facial hair was: his mustache, mutton chops, and beard appeared to have be grown at different intervals, creating a three-dimensional relief map across his friendly face. There's the spiced lamb burger, topped with tzatziki and preserved lemon; upon our visit, the special burger of the day was a delicious Barcelona burger, its ground beef and smoky chorizo patty topped with romesco sauce and melted manchego. They've also got a burger stuffed with basil pesto and topped with pancetta and taleggio, and another that's stuffed with truffled mushrooms and topped with portobellos and brie. All these fancy flavors are brought to you by amiable chef-owner Mark Shenk, formerly of Park Slope's Red Cafe, which was known and loved for its warm atmosphere and comforting menu.

Beyond beef burgers, they've got a cod-and-scallop patty spread with briny caper aioli and black olive pesto, and a surprisingly hearty lentil and barley burger with spicy harissa sauce and cool cucumber rounds. Their hand-cut fries, served in a parchment-lined cone, are well-salted and crisp, but they'll run you another four bucks, on top of the $9 to $13 you'll be dropping on a burger. The budget-conscious should stop by on a Tuesday, when you can score a regular burger and 12-oz. draft beer for ten bucks. (Yes, the fries will still run you $4, but it's a better deal overall.) Their roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and pine nuts were richly flavored, though a bit on the mushy side. We'll be back for the tempting tempura green beans, served with Asian chili sauce. Desserts range from a swell strawberry-rhubarb pie with an oatmeal cookie crust and fresh whipped cream to a more elegant blueberry sabayon. We can only wonder if the city of Dubuque offers anything this delicious.

Photo Donny Tsang

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