Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Cheeseburgers’
When I was a kid, “Moose Lake” only meant one thing – that’s where the state loony bin was. Today the facility is a medium level prison for men. I guess there are probably some loonies there still. Located 44 miles south of downtown Duluth, (110 miles north of Minneapolis) on I-35 (and US 61, the highway revisited by one of Duluth’s favorite sons, Bob Dylan), Moose Lake is a pretty little burg with about 2700 people.
It’s about 5 miles from a place I spent a lot of summers at during my salad days, the YMCA Camp at Sturgeon Lake, MN. Looking at their website, I see it’s over $400 a week now; I think it was $25 during my day. You should send your kids there. A good healthy experience.
As is going to Gampers, a family fun center located just North of town on Highway 61.
The Minnesota Burger Posse headed to Gamper’s to catch another show of Todd Eckart, and of course, to sample the burgers. Head of the Burger Posse, Kawika, had the Chipotle Peppercheese Burger, and was quite impressed with the quality of the ground beef, which the owner said was “legacy beef” from Wisconsin. Chipotle mustard on the side.
Here’s another great burger pic from Kawika, and the attraction of the night, Eckart, outside of the establishment.
Smashburger has a “localized” special burger at many locations, and Kawika went with the “Twin Cities”, which Smashburger describes as “layers of melted cheddar cheese, aged Swiss cheese and garlic grilled onions with lettuce, tomato and mayo on an onion bun.” Sounds good to me.
I’ve never been in to a Smashburger, the nearest one is an 8 hour drive. The chain employs a “design your own” concept. I’d go with a single patty, bacon, blue cheese, onion strings, and Franks Buffalo Sauce. Nice.
If you’re as old as dirt, as I am, you’ll remember Duluth prior to the major fast food franchises coming in. We had a select number of local burger houses, most noticeably, The London Inn, at 17th Avenue East and London Road, a beloved high school hangout and purveyor of most excellent onion rings, and then there was a couple of (I don’t remember the name) root beer stands that featured “Richardsons” brand of root beer, and had iconic signs , and a rotating root beer barrel as a road side sign.
At some point, A&W came to down, but there aren’t any of those left, and of course, today, the city has the whole spectrum of the national chains.
In one of the former A&W locations, you’ll find a local favorite “A & Dubs”, which features a variety of fast-food sandwiches and traditional drinks.
The owners decided to abandon the A&W franchise decades ago, when the chain insisted on standardized menus, and the soft drink itself started to be sold in stores.
The cafe featured car-hop ordering, was open only seasonally, and developed a following for their own food recipes.
Our intrepid Minnesota burger reporter, Kawikamedia, and his posse, hit A & Dubs the other day, and came away more than satisfied.
They ordered the “Powerhouse” a jumbo cheeseburger with lettuce, mayo, pickle, and the combo version includes fries.
It took a long time for a nationwide chain of BBQ restaurants to hit Duluth, MN, even tho the first location was a mere 50 miles away. Famous Dave’s was started in Hayward, WI, a regional year-round resort town, home of the World Lumberjack Contests, and also the winter cross country ski fest, the Birkebeiner. Al Capone had a hideout nearby during the 1920′s and 30′s.
Located in the tourist center of Duluth, Canal Park, Famous Dave’s serves up a vast menu of barbecue specialties, and burgers as well.
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia, and his burger posse hit Famous Dave’s the other day, and Kawikamedia went with the Ultimate BBQ burger, which promises a juicy ground beef patty beneath a pile of Georgia Chopped Pork with two strips of jalapeño bacon, melted sharp American cheese and our signature Beam & Cola BBQ sauce.
Kawikamedia is not usually a fan of BBQ sauce, but reported he loved this one due to it’s complex combination of flavors.
He’ll be back, he says, after all, Famous Dave’s is within staggering distance of his house!
Nearly 100 years old, but yet a “newborn”, the Pickwick (“the Wick” to locals) has always been a Minnesota favorite, and has been operated by the same family until this week. The new owners have modernized some of the infrastructure, and will be “updating” (horrors!) the menu.
First pic of the new bar area (below) shows that they have increased seating, extended the bar itself, and added more seating at the bar (formerly, it just had 8 highly coveted stools). Looks like the have lightened up the room a bit, and possibly removed the plethora of dead animals and fish that previously hung on the walls and replaced them with flat screens (horrors, again!) (Can’t we go anywhere, anymore, w/o having to watch television?).
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and the Minnesota Burger Posse were there for opening night and reported nothing had changed, apparently, in his usual (and favorite) Pepper Cheeseburger and onion rings. But he added an aside, that the “true test” of the burger is how it tastes after a night in the frig (like I believe the test of a pizza is how it tastes after a night on the kitchen counter!).
The Wick has retained their charcoal broiler for steaks and fish. One can only imagine they kept the various local fish entrees, featuring Walleye. Or one can hope. Word is they will be opening the 2nd floor, previously unused space, as a wine bar.
The group started with the Pepper Poppers, before launching into the burgers. Poppers were reported as “a nice addition to the menu.”
(All photos @ Kawikamedia, and cannot be reproduced w/o permission).
Mickey Paulucci, spawn of Jeno Paulucci, self-described “peddler’ and ‘not a nice guy’, started the Grandma’s, restaurant empire over 30 years ago, in Canal Park, Duluth, MN, across the street from his father’s office.
The original Grandma’s became known for quality food, ample servings, and fun ambiance, and grew to be a statewide mini-chain, but eventually cutting back to concentrate on opening several other eateries in the hometown Duluth area.
One of the spin-offs is Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill, a Tex-Mex outlet within avocado throwing distance of the first Grandma’s in Canal Park. Little Angie’s puffery says “Little Angie’s Cantina is the kind of place where the food is so fresh it’s still sizzling at your table.”
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia popped into Little Angie’s the other day and checked out the Cowboy Burger $7.99, a 1/3 pound all-beef patty topped with marinated lettuce (wtf?) tomato, mayo, add bacon and cheese for $2.09. The Cowboy is served on a toasted bun and comes w/ fries.
He said the burger looks much better than it tastes, overcooked, dry, no seasoning. The fries were “passable.”
In these days of boutique burger places, restaurants that offer burgers as just “one more item” need to try a little harder to upgrade their offerings. One has a number of dining choices in Canal Park, and some of them aren’t part of the Grandma’s group, even!
Heard from Burger Niece yesterday, who was in Minneapolis to check out a few burgers and dogs (yes, it’s genetic). She hit up the Smashburger outlet in Golden Valley, then trekked a little further north to hit Uncle Franky’s in Plymouth.
She reported satisfaction on all counts, and was pleased with Smashburger concept, service and food, said she ordered at the counter, custom made burgers were delivered to table in less than five minutes.
They had the mushroom/swiss, the Twin Cities half pound smash, and the kid’s smash. (all pictured below).
Uncle Franky’s I haven’t heard of, but they got the Vienna beef chili dogs, and liked them just fine. (Who doesn’t like Vienna dogs?). The Uncle Franky’s website says they have three locations, the original site in Nordeast, one in Dinkytown, and the one in the far North suburbs. I imagine Dinkytown does real well, Dinkytown is one of the two little commerce blocks around the U of Minnesota (the other is called “Stadium Village”), and both neighborhoods have long been the locale for cheap eats for the students. One of my regular hangouts used to be a 24/7 place called “Best Steak House” (there was one in each area), which was akin to the old Tad’s Steakhouses in NYC. You know, steak, baked potato, salad and a roll for $1.79 or something silly like that. Are there any Tad’s left?
Apparently so, just checked the web, there’s still one in SFO and the steak dinner is $13.79, but you can get the half pound hamburger steak complete dinner for under ten bucks, so that’s still a deal!! Apparently Manhattan as well, but couldn’t find a website for those locations.
Anyway, thanks for the report Burger Niece….sounds like a good time was had by all!
John Jacob Astor was the first billionaire in the US, amassing a fortune in fur trading, real estate, and exports to China. He also created the first trust. At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest person in the US, and, using 2010 dollars as an equivalent, he ranks as the 4th richest person in American history. Local legend in Duluth has him dying on the Titanic, which would have been a cool story, had he not died decades earlier.
Curt Carlson, founder of the Radisson Hotels, was also a billionaire, founding the Gold Bond Trading Stamp company after a stint at P&G. He bought the downtown Minneapolis Radisson Hotel in 1960, and started a second phase of his career which eventually included hotels, restaurants, and hospitality companies around the world. 10 years after his first hotel acquisition, he built the Radisson Duluth, which encompasses the cylindrical hotel design, so popular at the time, replicated at so many urban Holiday Inns, and taking its place in history forever with John Portman’s 4,000 foot tall (well it seems like it) Westin Peachtree (original name) in Atlanta.
These three elements come together in the relaunch of the Radisson Duluth’s rooftop revolving restaurant, JJ Astor’s, whose opening coincides with the complete refurbishment of the hotel, a modern updating using retro decorating and furniture, from top to bottom.
Time was, the Radisson revolving restaurant (where was the first one, anyway?) was the place for several things: the big date; mother’s and father’s days; engagements, anniversaries and birthdays. Now they hope to take a place in regular dining and lounge choices for Duluthians, and even shut off the “turntable” in the afternoons for Happy Hour. (kind, folks!).
Minnesota Burger Reporter and the Minnesota Burger Posse stopped by JJ Astor’s for lunch the other day, and reported a generally very positive experience. They like the house-made pickles which had a hint of garlic. Plates came with fresh cut fries, which were excellent, but not mentioned on the menu as a feature. Two of the posse enjoyed the cheeseburgers, one had the pan-fried Walleye sandwich, a common fixture on Duluth menus. The Walleye is a local fish, full name “Walleyed Pike,” but it actually isn’t a member of the pike family. Go figure!
Astor’s hot young chef brings a new twist to local favorites, employing the ‘simple is better’ technique so popular today.
The Radisson stands at 6th Avenue West and Superior St., near the site of the base of the formerly famous Duluth funicular. (Oh, look it up!).
It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the menu is online.
OK, follow the bouncing ball, as this story can be confusing! Once upon a time, in downtown Duluth, MN, there was a venerable institution called ” Mr. Nick’s Burger King” – (Home of the famous Char-burger). Nick’s operated for years, with that name, until an upstart franchise burger joint who currently has a very scary “king” character as a mascot comes along and wants to open in Duluth. They negotiate with the Mr. Nick’s family, and eventually, a compromise was reached (the details were as secret-like as a burger joint’s secret sauce), and Mr. Nick’s dropped the “Burger King” name, and a couple or six BK restaurants opened in Duluth, and the Mr. Nick’s family was somehow involved with those. (Please don’t trouble me for the facts, I am off my meds and it’s hard enough to concentrate – LOL).
Now, once a year, the family that operated Nick’s, dusts off their burger and onion ring recipe to benefit Twelve Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox, raising money to send local kids to camp, and for other youth activities. This event occurred yesterday in Duluth.
For a mere $10, you got a taste of nostalgia via a Mr. Nick’s Burger, Rings, and a drink, and take-outs were allowed.
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia covered the event and said a good time was had by all. Photo credits to Kawikamedia, except exterior b/w of Mr. Nick’s restaurant found online, but uncredited. (“Little” Nick at the grill; Charburger and Onion Rings).
Once upon a time, there was an all night joint in Superior, WI, called “Louis’ Cafe”, which was famous for ultra-delicious pancakes, Greek specialties, and huge portions. Louis’ begat Louis’ West End in Duluth, which spawned Louis London Road and as those outposts faded from memory, a new Louis (not sure if there is any relation) sprang up on the hospital hillside of Duluth, promising the “best breakfasts in town.”
Kawikamedia and the Minnesota burger posse dropped by the other day, noonish, to check out the menu of this 20 year old establishment.
The “Bishop” went with the hot roast beef sandwich, served on white bread, with mashed potatoes and gravy, cleaning his plate while admiring a nearby order of Eggs Benedict. Kawika went with the heart-stopping Buxom Burger, two 1/3 pound patties, cheese, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion, and mayo, and pronounced it excellent, with “hand-formed seasoned patties” and good “overall taste.” He said the seasoned fries were spot on, as well.
When I go to town, I’m not allowed to join the Minnesota Burger Posse on their outings, because I don’t know the secret handshake. But I do believe they’ll let me attend next time, as I have learned the secret words – “I’m buying.” How ’bout it guys?
Louis menu is online at Urbanspoon..