Ben Barbine, chef-owner of Da Lil Kitchen in Pass Christian, said he wanted something bigger and better when it came to hamburgers.
“I was tired of paying money for something and getting little bitty burgers,” he said. “I felt like people deserved something better for their money.”
And thus the Big Ben Burger was born.
Named after its creator and not the clock in London, the Big Ben Burger is almost 12 ounces of lean ground beef. It’s topped with three slices of cheese, two pieces of grilled ham and a pile of condiments shoved into a bun for a total weight of more than a pound.
“It kind of hangs over the bun and everybody says, ‘That’s a lot of meat for that bun,’ so people seem to like it,” he said.
The Big Ben Burger is the signature dish at Da Lil Kitchen, which Barbine owns with his wife, Cherry Nurse.
Nurse said the burger is often too much food for one person to handle.
“We’ll have some big people come in and have to take half of it home and we have some little folks that can eat all of it — you would be surprised,” she said.
Barbine and Nurse celebrated their grand opening May 20 at the restaurant’s new location at 400 Clarence Avenue near Pass Christian High School.
Barbine, a Toledo native, said he was working in cement contracting when he decided to throw his hat in the food service ring.
“I just wanted something better than what I had, so I decided to give the restaurant business a try,” he said. “Food has been my passion over the years.”
He said the Da Lil Kitchen has been in four previous locations.
“It started as a pull-behind trailer in my backyard after (2005’s) Hurricane Katrina and then we went to Stuckey’s on Menge near the interstate, and then we went to Pascagoula and then we came back to another spot on Menge,” he said.
A play on words
The current location, which is the old VFW hall, Nurse said, feels the most like “home.”
“We love where we are and we have been doing a lot of business,” she said. “This is our home.”
Nurse said the name of the restaurant is a play on words, but not in the way you would think.
“Some people think the name is short for ‘the little kitchen,’ but it’s ‘DeLisle kitchen,’ because we live in DeLisle,” she said.
Although the Big Ben Burger is Da Lil Kitchen’s most popular item, the restaurant also features a daily all-you-can-eat buffet. Other popular items are the one-pound ribeye, fried fish and the Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
“We believe in using quality ingredients,” Barbine said. “We use top quality rib-eye for our cheesesteak and three different kinds of cheese and it’s our most popular item behind the burger — which also comes in a 7-ounce Little Ben.”
Nurse said Da Lil Kitchen is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.