Burger Hunter

Burger Hunter: The Bulldog Northeast

Bulldog NE

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Just wait til you see his logo, we cannot wait to debut it. Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Coping it sweet in Northeast, MPLS on a random weekday might find you pondering your lunch time happy place. Low and behold I found mine at The Bulldog Northeast. Now you should have at the very least heard of this place or hopefully had a drink or something here. It’s got cred. Menu is Burger-forward and we’re into it. So I went with the Peanut Butter and Bacon burger which should be called the Knife and Fork burger. We will get to that later . . . Let’s start with the beef. The grind is brisket, sirloin, and chuck. Golf clap. The pack is firm. Chef knows medium and flavor of the beef is dialed. It’s topped with a Surly spiced peanut butter that is now and forever part of my fam. Is anyone listening???!! Bottle that shit! STAT! Sorry I get carried away. Next up on the burger is an apple-wood bacon that works beautifully on this super concoction. This whole thing is kind of a breakfastie hangover super crave town munchies ensemble. When you need to flat-out crush, this is it folks. Now they put a fried egg on it with a little Wood’s maple syrup. The runny egg always adds nice flavor to meat. Instagram Stories were made for this. But with these specific ingredients the egg is really the Pope Francis. Brings it all together and almost can’t live without. A keystone if you won’t. That brings us to the bun. The croissant. A noble choice but it just can’t hold up. Sweet and buttery and perfy choice to pair with these ingredients, but if your looking to hold this burger you might have a messy ordeal on your hands. Hence the Knife and Fork burger. Love the flavor of this ride. Sweet, full bodied and bold. It’s not hiding nor covering up. Just satisfying the soul.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.7   Presentation: 7   Originality: 10

Bulldog Northeast, 401 E Hennepin Ave, MPLS; thebulldognortheast.com


Burger Hunter: The Rock Elm Tavern

image2 (13)

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Just wait til you see his logo, we cannot wait to debut it. Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Rockford Road/ take me home/ to the place/ I belong. We know that would have to be a burger joint somewhere . . . The Rock Elm Tavern in Plymouth, MN is starting to earn some really good burger banter in the foodiesphere. Okay, let’s go! The Rock Elm Burger is their big home run hitter. This beauty is boss. The meat is angus grass fed from the sustainable legends in Olivia, MN Revier Cattle Co. Now these burgers literally glisten. They are shiny af! The reason for that I believe is because the cows are fed flax seed for the last 6 weeks. It not only makes these burgers runway ready and all pretty but adds a depth of flavor that grass fed beef honestly needs. Also makes them healthier than salmon. That’s the rumor anyways. Ok let’s move on . . . Bun is totes my style. Soft and butter grilled. From Emma Krumbee’s in New Prague, MN. The burger is topped with a candied walnut aioli that I’d like to spread on everything in life. They use a montamore cheese that’s simply magical. It’s in the parm family, so yeah, get to know. The mushrooms are house roasted and come to party. Although the sweetness from the candied aioli keeps them in check. They are just right there, not all up in your biz. If you haven’t noticed there’s a giant flavor bomb going on here. It’s a sweeter ride, but the bitter green beast arugula helps calm that done a notch or two. This burger is ridiculously good. There’s a creaminess with the toppings, a perfect med cook, and hella juicy. Everything is soft. Beautiful inside and out.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.2   Presentation: 7   Originality: 10

Rock Elm Tavern, 16605 County Road 24: Suite 211, Plymouth; rockelmtavern.com


Burger Hunter: Pat’s Tap

image2 (12)

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Just wait til you see his logo, we cannot wait to debut it. Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Nicollet Ave is about as good as good can get. This hunt takes us right to the craft beer supernova more commonly known as Pat’s Tap. Okay, okay, now after you’ve made your beverage selection try to dial in on the Big Cheese Burger. We’ll just head right in with the meat. It’s Peterson Farms Limousin beef. Those sneaky great French brown cows. Clean with depth is the flavor ride. They run a mid to firm pack and let salt lead they way. Chef knows medium. It’s yummy boots. FR. The bun is fresh from Denny’s 5th Ave Bakery and butter grilled. Perfy size and softer than you are.  Now the cheese is what makes Pat tap dance to the break of dawn. It’s an Ellsworth white cheddar masterpiece. They fry it on the flat top before placing it onto your burger. Outer has the light crisp crunch of like a saganaki (Greek fried cheese) and the rest of it is all gooey goodness. Another Damn Gina, damn! The burger is topped with a light salad of tomato and crunchy pickles. All local ingredients so top marks on that. I love how the chew is on this burger. Great aftertaste. It’s lion-like. I mean lions must get this sensation. Full, happy, and a light meat flavored coating throughout your mouth. But really it’s so satisfying. I pwned it straight to crush town. Pro tip: Order the cheese curds.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.0   Presentation: 8   Originality: 9

Pat’s Tap, 3510 Nicollet Ave S, MPLS; patstap.com


Burger Hunter: Saint Dinette

Saint Mikenette

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

When hunting “elephants” on Wall St. in St. Easy there’s no better deal than the burger at Saint Dinette. It’s quickly becoming legendary in Lowertown. The Cheeseburger is an uptick to everything you’ve been eating lately. Let’s just start with the grind. It’s high key primo beef. Sirloin, chuck, and brisket with loads of butter ground right in. They smash the patties onto a flattop and cook to medium temp. Trade secrets encourage insider trading. The point is they’re doing it right. We’ve learned that a high pedigree, butter, and smash smash smash (sorry for the Kai reference) is the golden ticket. The bun is perfy. Fresh daily from St. Agnes Baking Co and butter grilled. It’s like the ultimate sloppy joe bun ever. The burger is topped with a cheese blend of sharp cheddar, gruyere, and champagne. Think like port wine cheese but more gentle. It’s to live for. It’s to die for. Quite possible the best cheese I’ve ever had on a burger. The flavor of this entire ride is flat out next level. It’s juicy, the right amount of salt and cheese ratios, dialed af. Nailed it would be an understatement. Whether you go long or short, you’re certain to make a good investment at Saint Dinette. And you don’t need F-you money for their burger either. Very reasonable. Especially considering the fancy cuts up in here . . . That’s the upside. The downside is there’s so much more yummy on their menu!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.7   Presentation: 10   Originality: 10

Saint Dinette, 261 East 5th Street, STPL; saintdinette.com


Burger Hunter: Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille

image2 (11)

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

There’s gold in them there hills! This hunt takes us on an adventure into the west metro where the yuccie’s drive with no regard for humanity. 10-and-2 yourself straight to the Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille. Now this place is burger Mecca. They even have an internal battle each week between their own burger specials. I went with The People’s Burger. It won 22 weeks straight and earned itself a spot on the menu. This beast is loaded with flavor. The grind is a mix of chuck and smoked short rib so the pedigree is choice af. The meat taste is rich. Fitting for the number of high buck vehicles in the parking lot. Ok let’s mine our way through this big winner. Bun is brioche, butter grilled and perfy. Light and nice. The burger is topped with a housemade American chive cheese that all about smothering your meat. We call it “Instagram ready” in the biz. It’s so yummy and really should be consumed more in life. Next up is the smoked poblanos and tomato jam. Sweet and smokey work together like a miner and his pan . . . Or a hipster and her fixie. You get the point. They complete each other. There’s a reason so many BBQ joints render this tasty outcome. The People’s Burger has even more going on. Imagine a calendar full of appointments where everything is syncing in harmony. iSuccess. Last up is the bacon mayo. It’s sneaky great. The mayo just slides into your DM’s and the bacon is creeper . . . This burger is high and mighty but worth the investment. The chew is terrific and def a sweeter ride. Don’t sleep on the cheese curds they might be better than the Minnesota State Fair. Big claim . . .  Big hunt!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.3   Presentation: 8   Originality: 10

Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille, 14401 Excelsior Blvd, Minnetonka; goldnuggettavernandgrille.com


Burger Hunter: Val’s Rapid Serv

image2 (10)

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

On a bus to St. Cloud . . . Oh, Garth. Any which way you go put on some twang cause we’re heading to Cloud town. Now I’m tempted to support Kim Kardashian’s former fiance Kris Humphries 🏀 parents (they own a Five Guys 🍔 in St. Cloud, MN), but we’ll save that one for later and hit up the legendary Val’s Rapid Serv. You act like you didn’t know that was coming. Said Cloud town! This place is old timey with game. Sign outside is so tight. Damn Gina, damn! They’ve been doin’ it, doin’ it, and doin’ it well since 1959. Totes a take-out burger and fries joint. Cash me ousside, howbow dah. Eat in the car. The Triple Cheeseburger is the best choice. You can eat half if it’s too much. Don’t get weirdy on me. Always remember burger lefties are late night besties. The patties are thin and done well on a flattop that’s seen more action than Wilt the Stilt. A “seasoned grill” like Val’s is destined for a Smithsonian at some point. Kid you not! The flavor is classic and the cheese is melted all over. With a light beef grease and a power cheese melt it mo def an OTP.  Hella juicy! The bun is good and fits better than your lost winter glove. Speaking of finding things or finding things out, the locals seem to know why the fries are so good and possibly off color. While browsing the racks at St. Clouds iconic sports den Centennial Sports, I come to find out that those sneaky folks over at Val’s sprinkle their fries with popcorn salt and possibly a hint of cheese. It certainly explains the unique flavor. A top-rated French Fry indeed. Loved this whole experience. It’s fast and when everybody likes it you know it’s good!

(Writer’s Note: “Tennessee Stud” was on the radio while at Val’s!)

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.2   Presentation: 5   Originality: 6

Val’s Rapid Serv, 628 E St Germain St, St Cloud, facebook.com/pages/Vals-Rapid-Service


Burger Hunter: Ike’s Food & Cocktails

image1 (20)

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Winter in Twincy is nothing short of spectacular. Especially if you like all the wondrous little things that make our settings so nice. This hunt takes place in exactly one of those. Ike’s Food & Cocktails is a first-rate experience. Charming atmosphere and bar with classic mix masters. And the aroma gives you life. I heart it. Kind of a light mesquite smoke. Now that we’ve settled in and down it’s time for the Ike’s Roadhouse Steak Burger. This behemoth is right as rain, as the Brits would say . . . I kinda get a New England & mid century vibe going on in here. Ok, let’s start this thing off. The grind is angus chuck with prime rib. I love this flavor in hamburger. It’s the quintessential steakhouse high-quality burger, tbh. Meat melts in your mouth. Kinda like Toro for you sushi hunters. The chef knows medium and is quite possibly Salt Bae himself. But folks I just gotta say the bun is onion control! Sweet and butter toasted. Works v nice with the salty 4 year aged Widmer’s cheddar. Wisconsin legends in cheddar for like 80 plus. Melt factor hundo p. The crispy onion straws are just that, crispy and add another layer of o-town. This 10 ouncer is onion forward not onion dominant. Feels good to get that off my chest . . . The sautéed mushrooms are sneaky great. Out of nowhere, bam! Just when you are wondering where they are? That’s how these shrooms play. An exquisite burger, big in size and flavor. Everything worked together like Canada. Read into that all you want. You heard me . . . In a heartbeat! Pro tip: Nothing says I love you like a burger.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.4   Presentation: 9   Originality: 9

Ike’s Food & Cocktails, 50 South 6th St, MPLS; ilikeikes.com