Since I no longer live in the Twin Cities, my dining choices every visit are usually split between old favorites and new spots that my friends and family share with me. My latest visit last week had a bit of a twist as I was now sporting around my newborn kid. While he’s a breeze at restaurants, mom and dad get a bit tired at the end of the day and takeout often sounds like the best option. Thankfully Burger Jones, one of the new places I wanted to try, was not only a stone’s throw away from where we were staying but also hype their takeout.
Located in a former Applebee’s just off Lake Calhoun, Burger Jones is the latest venture from the Parasole restaurant group. While we opted for takeout, I must say that the design of the place is appealing enough to grab folks as they wander in. The modern diner look might be a little to clean and glossy but you’ve got to love a bar wall that’s full of PBR tall boys and Maker’s Mark. Their outdoor patio also looks lovely although your lake view is a bit obstructed by the insanely busy street it directly overlooks. I can only speak to the service aspect from the takeout point of view and it was fast and friendly mixed with confusion. While our order was ready in less than 15 minutes, a shock given how busy the place was at 6pm on Friday night, we watched the hostess pick up the phone and call us as we sat in front of her. Apparently the other hostess had not communicated to her that we were already there. However, this was more of an amusing incident than an annoying one.
With a name like Burger Jones, it’s obvious who the star of the menu should be. We sampled three of their burgers and the results were mixed. While none of the burgers were bad, two of three had a real disconnect between meat and toppings. I opted for the White Trash Burger solely based on the promise of chicken fried bacon. Of course the cheese curds, Velveeta, and onion ring that also topped the burger didn’t stop me from ordering it either. The result of all this deep fried goodness was mixed. The bacon lost its flavor in the deep fryer and was also painfully dry. I’m wondering if they precook the bacon before frying. Meanwhile, the cheese curds were made of an outstanding cheese but were borderline cold while everything else was piping hot. Also they lacked a sufficient amount of salt. The meat itself though was done quite nicely. Mine was a perfect medium rare and the meat had quite a distinguished flavor despite the mountain of toppings. The bun also stood up well. My partner tried out their Black and Bleu burger and found similar results. While the meat and caramelized onions were great, the cold slab of bleu cheese didn’t integrate well into the burger. Finally our dining companion went with the bison burger and was probably the most pleased of all of us. The cabernet onions were the best topping of the three burgers and the bison which can often be dry was as moist as our beef burgers.
Of course with burgers, there must be fries. In the interest of sampling Burger Jones wide variety we ordered the tri-fry tasting tower which included a traditional fry, a maple-bacon sweet potato fry, and a parmesan waffle fry. The traditional fries were good but not something I’d run back for on their own. The sweet potato fries though were some of the best I’ve ever had and that’s coming from someone who usually passes on such a fry. The crispness and the sweet/salty balance were perfecto. I found the parmesan waffle fries to be an epic disappointment. Some of the fries were undercooked and except for the top two fries, the parmesan was nowhere to be seen. Along with the fries came 3 dipping sauces. The chipotle aioli which was the stand out of the three. The seasoned sour cream lacked seasoning and was a poor comparison to your average sports bar seasoned sour cream (Legend’s on East Hennepin has the best). The last sauce we tried was the night sauce which tasted like a cousin of Heinz 57.
In the end Burger Jones is in a great location and has a great concept but the food just isn’t there yet. Except for the waffle fries nothing was flat out bad. However, except for the sweet potato fries nothing blew my socks off either. Much has been made of the prices but I think they’re reasonable except perhaps for the $6 shake that barely filled up my to-go cup. While my s’more malt wasn’t anything amazing, the touch of having it topped with a roasted marshmallow, graham crackers and chocolate was another sign of potential which is something Burger Jones has plenty of.
Burger Jones, 3200 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 612.746.0800