Thursday, June 25, 2009

The beer/food combo

I thought this article about finding good fare to accompany a good beer is worth sharing. In our quest for the best burger, I posit that it will likely be found sitting next to a very tasty brew.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More from the NY Chapter of BOTM Club

The New York Chapter of the BTOM Club has been getting a lot of press. I thought people would get a kick out of reading about and watching them in action. Just to be clear, the Twin Cities Chapter was not inspired by these east coasters! We are the Leibnitz to their Newton, both independently stumbling on a great idea. Our chapter was born out of a debate between myself and my friend Brad regarding the best burger in St Paul / Minneapolis. As we could not agree, and as the City Pages choses a new place every year for the "best burger", we decided to find out for ourselves.

Here are the links to stories about the NY chapter:

Their website
NY Time article
On the Today Show

Groveland Tap - After Action Report

The BOTM Club hit famed St Paul eatery The Groveland Tap on Monday night, and the joint lived up to its reputation. We were all impressed by the quality of the burgers, cheese curds, onion rings, and that oh-so-damn-good chipotle ketchup. Most of us were also impressed by the breadth of tap selections (just be careful to mind the prices; we unintentionally ordered a $40 pitcher of Goose Island!). The voting thus far has:

Burgers: 4
Sides: 4
Beer: 5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4.5
Value: 3

For an overall score of 3.67.

Detailed rankings and commentary can be found here.

Our visit also invoked the spirit of the Bard in our illustrious Presidente. Below are his nocturnal ruminations....

Although I consider myself far from being a bard and certainly not the bard of this band of brothers, in the quest for the best burger and beer in our faire cities, I am inspired to declare my few thoughts on last evening. Although we may have overspent a few more pence than we may have liked on our ale, it was certainly not the intention of the serving wench nor the bearded manager fellow to take from us our gold in an unfaire manner. They kept the ale flowing well, the food a little slower, but as the two hours spent at the table was a spirited matter, I enjoyed the ribaldry and gaiety of the evening.

Friday, June 12, 2009

El Presidente here

Imagine my surprise when I walk into my favorite coffee shop today to get this week's City Pages, and the cover story is about ranking the Twin Cities' newest burger joints. Is there something in the air?

I'll wait a while before reading it, as I want this search to be a semi-nomadic one. If there is a roadmap right in front of you, how fun is that? (Plus, they don't have a gonzo-like writer like our Pete.)

That's it for now, Burger Dudes.

El Presidente

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bovine and Barley Ruminations, How it Behooves Us

Courtesy Pete Gilbertson, BTOM Chief Intelligence Officer

What goes into determining the best beer and burger combo in the Twin Cities? Factors, man. Lots of ins and outs and what have yous. If you merely want the most supreme beef-n-bun amalgamation in existence, I’d wager you could go all mad scientist and, in time, devise the nigh perfect blend of herbs and spices with your preferred brand of beef, squish it all together into patty format, and grilled ‘em up in the backyard, fry a few in a hot skillet, or bake some in the oven. And while you’re at it you might as well dedicate a few years to brewing your own batches of beer down in your cellar while refining your formula until you’ve achieved elite status and become a world renowned brewmaster and beer sommelier.

It may take awhile, but man what a journey!

However, my spin on the “Beer and Burger Quest for Men” proposed be El Jefe Maximo seeks to bend the laws of space and time and accelerate the resolution of this culinary crusade. I’m of the opinion that this meaty endeavor began long ago--approximately a few milliseconds after the dawn of ground beef and the invention of sliced bread--by vast legions of humans and subhumans alike. Now, while it has been often said that there are multiple commonalities between myself and my neanderthal forbearers, in this instance--the pursuit of truth, justice, and the perfection of the hamburger way--I am not insulted. Fact: humanity has been pursuing the ideal cooked meat sandwich for eons, and many of the people who continue this pursuit today are indubitably more skilled with a spatula than I am, employ their skills in hamburger creation on a daily basis, and offer their beer and burger discoveries for sale to the public--sometimes even at “special” prices! Even Darwin himself would fast-forward through time to partake in the endgame of humanity’s natural selection of the greatest hamburger of all-time!

And why shouldn’t I?

Since that questing beast of a sandwich could exist anywhere, we might as well start looking here in the Twin Cities. What am I looking for? Primarily? Transcendent flavor. The perfect combination of meat and bread and a cool, refreshing beverage that will accentuate the taste of that wonderful freshly cooked juicy mass like no other beer could. After that I’m looking at the establishment’s side dishes, ambiance, and aesthetics: big screen tvs showing sports, pool table, potato vintage and selection (ie fries, skins, tots, wedges, etc.), jukebox, clean bathrooms, interesting decor, patio, view, friendly service, and affordable pricing to name a few.

Our first stop was at the 5-8 Club. Renown for their award-winning “Juicy Lucy” and sordid past of being a speakeasy joint during Prohibition, the 5-8 still offers a tasty sandwich stuffed with cheese, cold beer, and three kinds of potatoes! Fries, potato skins, and the nefarious Extreme Jojos that are served with chili (and apparently the secret ingredient in extreme flatulence production!) However, there are a few flaws. The service suffers at the 5-8 more so than their competition when they are busy, the patio is fantastic except for the lack of TVs and that you have to fight through a narrow hallway to get in and out of it--uncool if you need to find a urinal in a hurry.

Was it the best burger I’ve ever had? No. But it was a great place to start, and a good place to check out again.

‘Til next time: may the burger be with you.

Review of the 5-8 Club (May 2009)

Below is our review of the 5-8 Club.

The club unanimously agreed that the 5-8 Club visits was slightly disappointing. The "veterns" of this pub, found the beer and service lacking. However, the 5-8 club came in with a solid, but not shattering overall ranking of 3.3 (on a 5 point scale). The breakdown by category is below:

Burgers: 3.8
Sides: 2.8
Beer: 3.0
Service: 2.6
Ambiance: 3.4
Value: 4.4

So - strong points for good burgers, good atmosphere and great value. Not so great for quality of service, the sides and the beer. The detailed scores can be found at:

BOTM Club - Twin Cities Chapter

Here's the initial post to kick off the Twin Cities Chapter of the Burger of the Month Club.

The vision: to discover the best "burger 'n beer" tavern in St Paul or Minneapolis while simultaneously enjoying a "guy's night out."

Ground rules (if you don't like these, exceptions may be granted if the argument is compelling):

  • Tavern must serve quality burgers (preferably have a reputation going in)
  • Ideally good fries should accompany said burger
  • Ideally has that Minneapolis invention on the menu...the Jucy Lucy! This is definitely not mandatory, just a nice plus.
  • Tavern must serve beer. Preferably good, cheap and cold.
  • No corporate chains (eg, Champps, Applebees, etc.)
  • No taverns out in the burbs. If our burb brethren want to discover the best Burb Burger, that's their prerogative.
  • Manly taverns are a plus.

Club Officers:
  • El Presidente: Joe
  • Chief of Staff: El Jefe
  • Head of Intelligence: Pete
  • Treasurer: Javen
  • Cultural Attache / Ambassador: Todd
Provisional 2009/2010 Schedule:
Club meetings will always be the 3rd Monday of each month, unless the officers decide otherwise.
  • 5-8 Club: May
  • Groveland Tap:June
  • Matt's Bar: July (July maybe crazy due to Pete getting married and Jefe getting a little girl!)
  • The Blue Door Pub: Aug
  • The Bulldog (NE): Sept
  • The Nook: Oct
  • The Sportsman's Pub: Nov
  • Shamrocks Grill & Pub: Dec
  • Herkimer Pub: Feb
  • Sweeney's: March
  • Ike's Food & Cocktails: April
  • The Cardinal: May