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The Pierre Special, with a side of onion rings, comes as two patties with lettuce, cheese, tomato, onion on two pieces of Texas toast. (Brad Robichaux / American Press)

The Pierre Special, with a side of onion rings, comes as two patties with lettuce, cheese, tomato, onion on two pieces of Texas toast. (Brad Robichaux / American Press)

A not-forgotten taste of growing up

Last Modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:32 AM

By Brad Robichaux / American Press

Fancy dress? Gourmet food and fine dining? Nah! Sometimes when that highfalutin adult restaurant stuff just doesn’t seem appealing, you might try someplace where it actually tastes good to grow up.

Complete with toy trains, a rather loud train whistle that some children can’t help but pull and enough nostalgia for the days when the burger and shake was the staple of the kid diet, Dairy Barn recreates the taste and mindset that made old-fashioned homemade burger joints so popular in their heyday.

These are the kind of burgers you simply can’t find in the conventional fast food places anymore.

Dairy Barn has two locations, one at 2251 Maplewood Drive in Sulphur and one at 4453 Nelson Road in Lake Charles. The Lake Charles location has gone through several moves, at one time having a restaurant on both Prien Lake Road and Ryan Street, while the Sulphur location has stayed reliably in the Maplewood Plaza Shopping Center diagonal to Market Basket.

You’ll get the same burger joint experience with just about any burger you’ll order at either location. While fries are a burger’s natural friend, the onion rings are the real winners as far as sides go. Thin, stringy, crispy and especially good with ketchup, these onion rings are the kind I generally prefer, as opposed to larger thicker-cut rings. The portion for a small onion ring is rather generous, so it might not be a bad idea to split a small with a friend.

Not one to venture too far from the ordinary, I used to order a simple hamburger with onion rings. One day while on lunch with former coworkers I felt pressured into trying something new when everyone else had been getting a “P-Spesh,” a Pierre Special, so I got one as well. I don’t get anything else anymore.

With two patties with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese between not a hamburger bun but two slices of Texas toast, this burger beats out its competition in terms of sheer flavor. As with most things delicious, the P-Spesh can be rather messy and can easily disintegrate in a mess of burger if you don’t handle it with care. Also, too much of a good burger can quickly ruin not only your waistline but also the burger’s appeal, as I have experienced.

Dairy Barn offers other dinners you can try when coming down from a P-Spesh binge, like shrimp poboys, catfish and chicken sandwiches, even chicken strip baskets and hamburger steaks. If the burgers makes you feel a little guilty try a grilled shrimp or chicken salad next time.

But if, like most kids, you’d really rather throw caution to the wind, you can try out Dairy Barn’s namesake, the ice cream. Walk up to the ice cream bar at the Sulphur Location or visit the separate but adjoining ice cream shop next door to the Lake Charles restaurant for a sweet fix. A personal favorite of mine are the chocolate malts, made right in front of you with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, a splash of milk and a scoop of malt. I ask for a little extra malt in mine, which makes for an especially good malt I’ve tasted only occasionally from homemade attempts.

Yes, sometimes we have to hold our noses and force down grown-up food for business lunches or dinner get-togethers, but it’s nice there are places that still serve food that tastes so darn good to our younger taste buds.

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