Sunday, March 29, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #4

After eating at the Nook, I was off to the Band Box, downtown Minneapolis. I hop into my car, type in the address for my GPS and I am off. I miss my turned so the GPS takes me on a different route. I am sure glad I had a GPS on this trip. Every trip actually. I get to where I want to go but I don't see a sign. I drive a bit further down the block and find the Band Box. I park around the corner and go inside. This is your typical diner from way back. The Band Box is the oldest diner still in operation in Minneapolis. If my memory is correct I think it open in 1932 or is it 38'? There is just one table full, me and 3 others at the counter. The man to my right is getting an omelet.... It is huge!!! I order a hamburger that is it and a coke. Now this patty is frozen but George told me to check it out anyway. I get my burger and it is hot! Now the Burger was good, I should have gone with cheese, maybe being fresh would help also but the Band Box is Hamburger America. It is what it was like 60+ years ago. You would go to a diner or Hamburger shack, get a Burger cheap, quick by people you knew. Nowadays it is Fast Food joints with commercials and gimmicks. That is why I like to go on Burger Hunts, find a Ma and Pa joint and enjoy their Burger.

Now each Burger experience is different for me. Maybe the cook was off that day or staff. I pointed out that I liked the 5-8 Club Lucy better then Matt's Bar. The thing is Matt's has more character as a place then The 5-8 Club. I am not out to find the best Burger. I point out that I enjoyed it, it was great or it was sub par. As I posted earlier, people ask me what is the best Burger I have had.... My answer changes each time. The Burger is part of it, what else I enjoy is the atmosphere and people I meet.

Now after that Burger I go back to my hotel room to rest. I then head out to The Wienery. I saw it on the Food Network. I was about to walk in when I changed my mind. I had Burger overload, so I head back to my hotel. I actually did not eat a Burger till the following Thursday, that is 5 days without a burger, which is odd for me!

Overall a great time in the Twin Cities. I have to get back there, I learned about some new places I have to try.......Another road trip to the Twin Cities, Yes!!!

Band Box Diner
729 S. 10th St.
Minneapolis MN

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #3

Stop #3 was Saturday morning March 14th. After filling up on Burgers on Friday surprising I was ready for a Burger. I grab my GPS and headed to Caspers & Runyon's Nook, The Nook as it is known. I got there just a few minutes after 11 am. There were already 6-8 tables full. I sat at the corner of the bar, which seats 10-11 people. A regular takes a seat a few stools down and asks Nicole, the bartender it they opened early? "Nope, just everyone came at once." Good sign right!!! They open at 11 and it is busy already. The grill area is tiny and 3 guys are working the grill area!! How they do it I don't know. I mean small maybe 8 x 10 area!?!? I mean you have to side-step, shuffle through the area. It is like the guys are taking small dance steps to move around. Now it is 11:15 and there is a waiting list to be seated. There is a fake water spill on the bar, I fall for it!!! I ask for a bar towel, the bartender just smiles.

The jukebox is playing anything from Classic Rock to Stevie Wonder. When she has a chance I talk to Nicole and ask what to order. She likes the Paul Molitor, which is a Lucy stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese. I am tempted but I want to stay simple. So I order the Nookie Lucy (American Cheese) and fried onions, no fries went with coleslaw. I have other Burger stops today. By this time 10-12 people are standing in the corner and by the door waiting for tables to open, this place is packed!!

I get my order, Nicole tells me to wait a bit before I start. After a few minutes I take a bite. The cheese starts oozing out the Burger. The Burger is medium and is the way it comes unless order different, which is good. I don't like well done, which Matt's Bar does. The 3 ladies to my left are waiting for a table and are eyeing my Burger. I wave my hand over my Burger to waft the aroma towards them. The lady seated right next to me goes "Ohh that smells good!" " I can smell the onions." I have to say this is one juicy Burger and not just because of the cheese!

I make small talk with Dave, who is seated to my right. Is every guy named Dave here?!?! Once again you get little bits of information of what to try and where to go. He like me is a rookie at the Nook. He tells me to try The Gopher Bar...."If I am not Burgered out I will try." I tell him.

Overall a great place. I still cannot believe how busy it was, right away. It is a small place but still it filled up fast. So get there early if you can. Once again a neighborhood bar that makes a great burger. The place is filled with nick-knacks and beer signage. I wish I took a menu, they had some history of the place on it. My opinion is The Nook makes a better Lucy then Matt's Bar. Matt's is way to done for me. I would say go to The Nook and The 5-8 Club if your looking for a Lucy.

Next stop, The Band Box which was suggested to me by George.

The Nook
492 Hamline Ave. S
St. Paul Mn 55116

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #2

Second stop March 13th a Friday is The 5-8 Club. After leaving Matt's Bar I head South on Cedar Ave. to The 5-8 Club. It is only a 2 mile drive, quick right, not during rush hour!! I get there and the parking lot is full with overflow into the street. I park across the street at a church and enter through the back. Think Supper Club when you think 5-8. Where you enter is the "sit down area" and it is full, 5 pm and packed!!! Well I am not sitting here, off to the bar. I go to the bar and thankfully I get a seat, the last one at the bar. The small bar tables are also full. I get my beer and start small talk to the guy on my right, Nick is his name. We talk a bit of NCAA Hoops, then burgers. I tell why I am here and that I just was at Matt's Bar. I also tell him I plan on going to The Nook. He tells me that is a good place and that he goes there a lot. The guy on my left hears our conversation, his name is Dave and he joins in on the burger talk. Dave tells me that "Man vs. Food" filmed here recently (The show is on the Travel Channel) and that he got interviewed while they filmed. Now I have to DVR the show, March 25th I think, and see how he did.

After some more Burger talk I buy a round of beers for the 3 of us. Lets say Nick drank his without a thank you, talked with his friends and left. No thank you or even offer to buy a round, beer. I don't like Nick.... Dave I like!!! We chatted some more and he bought me a beer as a Thank You. He did not have to, a Thank You would have been enough. While we chat the waitstaff is thinking of what to write in my Hamburger America book. Bobbie, my bartender is a blast!!! She is a smart ass that will dish it out but will take it also (Love ya Bobbie!)

By this time I am hungry and Dave is also. I look at the menu, at The 5-8 Club you can stuff your Burger with different cheeses. Matt's is American Cheese only. I am thinking of trying Swiss Cheese. I check to see what Dave likes to order....Swiss...good! So I order a Juicy Lucy with Swiss. I also can order to my liking, not like Matt's. I order it Medium Rare and fried onions. As a side I get JOJO's. (Pictured is my Lucy and JOJO's) Dave usually gets a Lucy but not tonight. He goes with a California Cheeseburger, which is lettuce, tomato, mayo and Swiss as a cheese.

My order takes longer so Dave gets his first. Not long after though I get my order. As you can see my Lucy has a toothpick in it with a colored top. That tells the cook, staff what kind of cheese is inside. I start on my JOJO's to let my Lucy cool. Let's say the JOJO's could feed 2-3 people easily! Now it is time for the Lucy. I take a bite..... OH MY was it good!!! Cook to order, medium rare, so some pink. Not like Matt's a Hockey Puck... or well done. The 5-8 Club's Lucy was good, moist and messy!!! Bobbie asks how it was?? I say "Great, better then Matt's!" There I said it. I get so full I have a hard time finishing my JOJO's. Burger coma sets in, yep sleepy. I get a shirt from Bobbie and she and Lisa sign my book. I tell you what they wrote but that is for Dave and I to know! My meal was cheap, 5 beers (Nick you owe me one!) a Juicy Lucy and JOJO's just over $20 but my time there was priceless.

A big thank you to Dave and Bobbie for a great time I had sitting at the bar at The 5-8 Club. If you missed it I said the Juicy Lucy is better at The 5-8 then Matt's got it!!

The 5-8 Club
5800 Cedar Ave. South
Minneapolis MN 55417

Next stop... The Nook

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #1

March 13th 2009 My first stop Matt's Bar, Minneapolis. I get there about 4 pm. I have my Hamburger America book and the bartender asks where I am from. I tell her "I am from Madison WI (Waunakee actually which is a burb' of Madison.) I told her I was up in the Twin Cities for the weekend doing Burger research. Gigi, the bartenders name, asks if i do Burger research every weekend. "No" I say. "I had some free time and wanted to visit the Twin Cities for some Burgers." " So it is a hobby then?" she goes. "Yes you could call it that." I say with a laugh.

I order and Jucy Lucy and a beer...............minutes Jucy Lucy arrives. I ask Pauly the cook, "How long should I wait?" "As long as you want but take little bites to start." He tells me. I guess I followed the directions correct, I did not burn my mouth on the hot cheese!!! The bun is good and the cheese oozing out is something special. Yes I make a mess, the cheese pools on my wax paper. The cheese pooling reminds me of Solly's Butter Burger and the way the butter drips and pools on the plate. I use my Burger to wipe up the cheese before it hardens. That is all I ate at Matt's, I had to save room for another place that night.

The Burger takes longer to cook then normal, about 5-6 minutes per side. Sure the Burger is well done but the little surprise inside is worth it. It is so runny it is almost like melted butter. It got busy when I got my Burger. I would say about 5 booths were full and a table in a 20-25 minute time. Gigi told me that by 6 pm there may be a line out the door. A good sign right!! Paul gives phone orders about 15 minutes to pick up. That is a good time when there are 14-16 Burgers in the griddle (Pictured, wish it was better.) They must have served 16-18 people in a half hour not counting carry-outs.

Once again a neighborhood bar where they know your name....sounds like some lyrics to a sitcom right! Again the last few minutes I am at a place I get some good quotes/info. A man comes up to the bar to pay for his family's meal. He tells Gigi that his son (about 8 yrs old) told him that was the best burger he ever had. He told his Dad this in the bathroom!!!! The wife of the man sees my Hamburger America book and we chat a bit about what I am doing. They ask what is the best burger I have had. Now I hate that question but I answer it. I tell them "Bud's Bar in Sedalia CO and Solly's in Glendale WI." I swear I answer it different each time haha. After some more small talk I purchase some T-shirts from Matt's as a little reminder of the place stuck in the 50's. I also get my book signed by Gigi and Pauly. I have a nice collection of signatures in the book now!! If you like a well done Burger, this Burger is for you, so go have a Jucy Lucy and check out the decor at Matt's Bar.

Matt's Bar
3800 Cedar Ave. South
Minneapolis MN 55407

Next Stop #2 The 5-8 Club.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Five Guys with my Brother.

My brother has gone with me on a couple burger trips around the area. I also take him to places I liked. This time I took him to Five Guys. He loved the burger!! I told him I never take him to a place with a bad burger. He had the Cheeseburger with Fried Onions, while I did the Bacon Cheeseburger and we split a larger Fry. While I was there I heard a cook say that another one would be opening in the area. Watch out Mickey D's here comes Five Guys!!

My Burger

So how did I come up with the title Waun-a-Burger, then have a Burger!! Well there is a burger named The Waun-a-Burger. I work at bowling center and that is one of our burgers. The bowling center name, The Waun-a-Bowl. A few business names in Waunakee start with Wauna. What is a Waun-a-Burger?? Well pictured is a 1/2 lb. burger, you also can get a 1/3lb. The 1/3 lb comes on a toasted small squishy bun, where the 1/2 lb comes on a par baked roll or French Round (got me?? but it is good.) We tried to use Brioche once for the 1/2 lb. and people hated the change so we went back to this "Big Bun". The patty is fresh, never frozen. It is a char-broiled burger, that's right. In my travels I notice using the griddle is more common. The Waun-a-Burger comes with two cheeses, that is American and "white" American. We call the white, Swiss. Why I don't know. Also on the burger is a slice of deli ham, which is cooked on the griddle. I use a deli slicer to slice ham myself, thank god I have not lost a finger yet!!! On the side of the Waun-a-Burger you get lettuce, tomato and pickles. What makes it extra good is a side of Ranch. I have been using Chipotle Ranch.....yummmmm. In the picture you will see a large order of fries with the Chipotle Ranch for dipping. That's my house burger and thanks to Matt for making it for me. The Burgers at the Waun-a-bowl are the best Burgers in Waunakee WI. If you are in Waunakee, stop in at the Waun-a-bowl, ask for Todd and we can talk burgers and maybe Matt will be on the grill that day!

Little side note, another Burger Trip coming up.... This time the Twin Cities!!!