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MSP - Buster's on 28th Report

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A new neighborhood bar opened a few weeks back over by Minnehaha Falls - I drive past there once a week. I waited a bit before trying it. It's called Buster's on 28th because...wait for it...it's on 28th.

I like the menu - lots of local beers, the bread comes the bakery right next doors, there is a brat made in West St. Paul, local bison made into a burger and satay, and walleye. Prices are very reasonable.

I ordered their juicy lucy with onion rings. The onion rings were good, if not slightly hastily executed. Hand cut, freshly made, and very large.

Mixed results on the burger. More disappointing than good. The bun had two issues - it was stale, and just too big for the burger. It's a pet peeve of mine when there's extra bread on a sandwich, but there is just no excuse for stale bread when their supplier is their next door neighbor. And it was a weekday.

The cheese in the lucy was a mix of mascarpone and blue cheese. I am becoming convinced that blue cheese does not belong on/in burgers - twice recently I have less than impressive results with it. The cheese in the sandwich was first, much too skimpy, and second, had entirely leaked out of the meat.

As for the meat itself, it was flavorful and juicy. It it weren't a juicy lucy, and had a fresh bun, I would have enjoyed it quite a bit. I think.

I have a lot on my mind the past couple of weeks, frankly. It didn't occur to me that this was a flawed burger, actually, until I got home because I simply wasn't thinking about it when I was eating. I wish I had - I would have sent it back. I do recall the waitress rambling something about getting the burger medium so the cheese doesn't leak out, and I had no idea what she was talking about - I never had that problem at Matt's or 5-8. Of course, they use more practical cheeses in their lucys. I think it's just stupid to put mascarpone in a lucy.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents on the place. The decor is there is really nice. Sort of art deco. It could be a decent place if they worked smarter with some ingredients and kept fresh bread on hand.

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  1. I was squinting at the screen, trying to envision 28th Avenue vs. 28th Street. For anyone else who might have been doing the same:

    4204 28th Avenue S., Minneapolis
    612-729-0911

    Here's the website:
    http://busterson28.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: KTFoley

      I completely forgot to add the places link - so sorry about that.

      -----
      Buster's on 28th
      4204 28th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406

    2. pgokey--thank you for this report. While I share your pet peeve about excess bread on a sandwich (and agree--no excuse for a stale bun! also, I'd like to mention that the bakery next door is The Baker's Wife! I'm sure they're fabulous when fresh--what a crime to serve them stale...) , I happen to have a weird thing about loving blue cheese on burgers (once had blue cheese and beets on a burger--it was fantastic and I've craved it ever since)! But, I've never thought of blue cheese in a lucy. Given my weird obsession about the blue cheese+burger, I'm intrigued by it, but why mix the blue cheese with the mascarpone? I would think that blue cheese is already too soft for a lucy, wouldn't the mascarpone just make it softer? I have to agree with you: that just seems like a bad idea.

      I don't know about Matt's but the Nook will only serve their lucys "medium," maybe for the reason of not wanting the cheese to leak out. (By the way, did you ever make it over to the Nook? I recall you mentioning thaf off-hand a few weeks ago. What did you think? I hope it was a good experience for you.) When I had my first lucy at Matt's the waitress showed me the little blob of beef they use to patch over the hole where the cheese goes in. Maybe that keeps their cheese from runnning out?

      Did you try the "bison popsicles" (on Buster's menu under appetizers.) I'm a sucker for such silliness, so, I'm curious.

      ~TDQ

      4 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        The two problems I had with the blue cheese was that in one instance (BLB) is totally melted and ran off the burger and all over the plate, and I think overwhelmed the taste, too, as I mopped it up, and then this mess. If I could get a burger with blue where it actually stayed on the burger, I might be OK with it.

        Didn't try the bison, but they looked good - the table next to me had them.

        She explained that is why they cooked them medium, and I asked if they ground their meat on-site (making it a little safer, although I wouldn't have really objected). I think my question threw her for a loop. I was fine with a medium burger, and I guess that's what I got. I didn't see much pink inside, but the meat was awfully soft and juicy - I wouldn't call it medium-well.

        No, plans changed and didn't make it to The Nook. I want to take care of that visit before school starts.

        1. re: pgokey

          Blech! Well, the one thing I will say is that you're never supposed to bite into a jucy lucy right away because you have to give time for the cheese to re-solidify (that, of course, gives you and excuse to eat your fries first!), so I don't know if that was part of the problem...but, that situation you described with the meat is just not right. I had a similar experience just once at Shamrock on West 7th ("The Irish Nook") when it was new and I have to say, my burger was truly inedible. Super greasy, too. For the record, I have since been back to the Shamrock (mostly thanks to MSPD who has posted several times that he thought Shamrock's lucys are as good as the Nook's) and the situation has vastly improved. They still aren't the same lucy's as the Nook's (I think Shamrock's are more peppery), but they are very good. I chalk that initial bad experience up to them trying to get the back of house issues sorted out. Let's hope that maybe that's the case with Busters, too, that it's just them working the kinks out!

          If you're planning on getting to the Nook before school starts again, you'd better get moving. Heck, the State Fair is practically upon us! :).

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Yeah, I waited a couple of weeks before going to Busters.

            I never trust a kitchen to let meat rest - a good kitchen should do that, and then plate the fries just before service. I eat my fries, or in this case onion rings, first. But my visual inspection suggested that the damage had been done before the plate made it to my table. And, there was barely any cheese in the first place. I tried to mop up the cheese with the bun - not much there.

            I'd say this - try Buster's, hope for fresh bread, but don't get the lucy.

            1. re: pgokey

              OK, see, this is why it's risky to just skim a thread.

              I read "...you're never supposed to bite into a jucy lucy right away ... yeah, I waited a couple of weeks...."

      2. I'd give them some time. Buster's is owned by one of the owners of The Happy Gnome is St. Paul and I bet the place will be fantastic once they get their operation down...usually they say the rule of thumb is to give a new restaurant about 6 weeks before you critique. I was at Buster's last night and didn't order anything except a cold Widmer Hefeweiss and some deep-fried pickles, but the burgers going out past me looked fabulous! I will be back to try them out in a couple of weeks...

        15 Replies
        1. re: Jonesie

          I agree. The place had an air of quality about it. My disappointment was really because they came so close yet dropped the ball when they were about ready to deliver on something really satisfying. I'm anxious to see how they come this winter, or spring even.

          They were doing really good business the night I was there.

          1. re: pgokey

            Oh no! It's associated with the Happy Gnome? That place is pretty substandard food-wise. Most of the attention it gets is for the extensive beer list and the fact that they have a patio (Twin Citeans are a sucker for a good patio in summer--I find HG's unpleasant, though; I think it smells funny). Funnily enough, one of my main complaints about Happy Gnome is that they let their desserts (from Piece of Cake across the street ) get soggy and stale. :( Someone needs to train the folks at their restaurants when baked goods have gone past prime and toss them rather than trying to save a few bucks and serve them.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I've never been to Happy Gnome.

              Stale buns from the bakery next door. Soggy desserts from the bakery next door. I sense a pattern.

          2. re: Jonesie

            According to Kathie Jenkins' (Pioneer Press food critic) blog, this idea that the owners of the Happy Gnome are also the owners of Busters is erroneous. Interestingly enough, though, the people who own the Happy Gnome (which I personally think is pretty blah) , also own the Muddy Pig (which I think is fine.)

            http://blogs.twincities.com/eat/2007/...

            So complicated!

            Kathie didn't love Buster's either, though suggested perhaps they are still working out the kinks since they are new.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Her comments about the onion rings were interesting. Mine weren't greasy, and if anything, had too much onion - there were two rings of onion inside the batter in some cases, as if they were hastily made. Sounds like consistency issues.

              This place could be good if it tried harder.

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                DQ wr"ote "According to Kathie Jenkins' (Pioneer Press food critic) blog, this idea that the owners of the Happy Gnome are also the owners of Busters is erroneous. Interestingly enough, though, the people who own the Happy Gnome "
                this too is erroneous the muddy pig guys are not involved in the gnome at all.

                1. re: zfwp

                  Hmmm...I wonder where Kathie Jenkins got her information (or misinformation as the case may be) that the Gnome and the Pig had common ownership. It's a relief to me to hear that they don't since the Gnome has been a disappointment for me (a place to which I will never return, in spite of the fact that they have a patio) while the Pig is a decent stand-by for a burger and a beer.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I can, as Paul Schatz, state definitively that neither I nor Mark Van Wie have any current connection and/or ownership interest in either the Happy Gnome or Busters.

                    1. re: phaid

                      Hey, thanks, horse's mouth! <grin> Interesting to know. I have heard rumblings that all is not well at the Gnome. I will say that I've had somewhat better chow experiences there than TDQ has, but there has always been a lot of room for improvement on the deliciousness front.

                  2. re: zfwp

                    Not true. Paul Schatz and Mark Van Wie own both places -- unless one or both of them has sold out of one or both of the bars.

                    1. re: mcgeary

                      paul and mark have no involvment with the gnome.

                      1. re: zfwp

                        seriously? i was told they were under the same ownership as well & i've been avoiding the pig, assuming that they would only offer the same uninteresting appetizer and unclean salad i'd been served at the gnome.

                        the websites seem to be maintained by the same company; does anything else besides vaguely similar names connect them? why does everyone think they are under the same ownership? do you know who *does* own the gnome? ack. if i've been erroneously neglecting a nice little st. paul pub all this time i'll have to run straight over asap.

                        1. re: zfwp

                          If you have info that either or both of them has gotten out of the Gnome, please let us know, but here's the story (via City Pages) from when the Gnome opened. A similar item ran in the Star Tribune:

                          The place was Chang O'Hara's until recently, when it was bought by Mark van Wie and Paul Schatz, who own the nearby Muddy Pig, another bar with a big (but not as big) beer selection. To differentiate their new place from the old, they installed both a chef with a fine-dining background and two dozen beer-tap lines, most dedicated to the products of the new breed of small American brewers.

                          1. re: mcgeary

                            Mark and Paul no longer have any connection to the Gnome. They are the owners of the Muddy Pig only. Which by the way, just got some spiffy new hardwood floors and some new flat screen TVs (No, Paul, this is NOT a sports bar!!). Great neighborhood place. Won't comment on the Gnome; I think enough has already been said.

                            Nancy in St. Paul

                            1. re: mcgeary

                              MNBeer.com posted this e-mail in February announcing the split:
                              http://mnbeer.com/2007/02/08/pig-gnom...

                  3. I just had lunch at Buster's. It was 11:30 on a Saturday morning and no one else was there yet, I guess it was too early for most people to go to a place known for their beer!

                    We sat outside and enjoyed the nice weather under an umbrella with our snoozing 2 month old. Our server was friendly and helpful. Nice beer selection - I had a coffee but my husband ordered a "skull splitter" beer and enjoyed it.

                    We got the fried pickle appetizer because fried pickles are a "guilty pleasure" favorite of mine. However, these pickles are long spears that are battered and fried... and I don't think that works as well as the pickles cut into coins and fried. There was too much pickle to batter ratio, and the batter would separate from the pickle. So it like eating a steaming hot pickle with some attached batter... and I actually would have liked the batter to be saltier as well.

                    My husband liked the Rachel sandwich - he thought it was fresh and tasty. However, he said it had no "spread" - no Thousand Island and it was missing the "pickle mayonnaise" it was supposed to come with. (and how is pickle mayonnaise different than tartar sauce, btw?)

                    I ordered the deep fried portobello sandwich. I've had many portobello sandwiches but never battered and fried - so my curiosity got the best of me. I'm sure there are people who would like it, but it was WAY too rich and greasy for me. It had TWO mayonnaise-type spreads on it .. the aforementioned "pickle mayonnaise" under the mushroom and a red pepper aioli spread thickly on top of the mushroom. And the greasy batter on a thick bun just made for a soggy mess.

                    We both liked the fries.. good and homemade and the right amount of salt. I'll definitely be back since I live fairly close by, and it is nice to have a place with good beer and fries in that neighborhood. And perhaps they are still experimenting with different dishes at this point.

                    1. THey really do need to do something about the buns. I live nearby and was very excited about this place, but twice now I've had burgers there, and both times the bun was way too big, and dry, like other posters have mentioned. My guess is that the size and dryness are related, actually, since with a smaller bun, more of the grease gets soaked up. My wife and I love Baker's wife, but maybe these buns just aren't a great match. I wish they had a comment box at the place. Question: is it appropriate to politely give feedback to the server about my bun opinions?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: FishMPLS

                        Hmmmm...sounds problematic, the bun mismatch. Have you tried their jucy lucy--if so, what did you think?

                        I think it's completely polite to mention it to your server or even ask for the manager and tell him/her. Or, if you're too shy to do it right there, call them later and ask for the manager and give the feedback. Honestly, I think you're doing them a favor. They're new, they want to succeed, this kind of information is important for them to hear.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I had the Lucy and enjoyed it tremendously. The cheese was the lubricant that kept the burger so nicely juicy. The bun was good too. IMO the size of it was not an issue, as it was a perfect vehicle to keep my hands clean while eating the sandwhich. Perhaps folks are being a little too canonical about the Jucy. I like to think of it as a constantly evolving mutation of the classic hamburger, rather than some solidified constant like a Chicago dog.

                      2. I have been there on several occasions now (most recently last night) and have been mostly dissappointed. We too, were waiting for the kinks to work themselves out. Sadly, they haven't...yet. The beer is great! The patio is great! It's really just what our little neighborhood needs. But alas, the service is at times non-existent, the food too inconsistent...even with the abbreviated menu, and some ventilation would certainly be appreciated. Will be back for beers...

                        1. Just got back from a few brews at Buster's. After reading the previous posts on the place, my expectations were LOW. However, I've come back from the place exicited and hope for many happy returns
                          .
                          Although we didn't go there looking for a chow-ish meal, it has met our standards for an excellent neighborhood bar. In the Nokomis area, our choices for local hangouts are seriously limited: Adrians, the Cedar Inn , Fat Lorenzo's, the Cardinal Bar, Matt's, etc. Anyway, for a few beers and bar treats, this bar was up to par.

                          Yes, service was a little on the slow side. But, the bevy of beer selections seemed to compensate for this. It was nice to see a tap beer list which changes regularly, as well as a weekly special beer.

                          Members of our party ordered the onion rings, ceasar salad, and the bison burger. Everyone thought their food was good, but we all agreed that the onion rings were amazing. Crispy and delicious!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: spunky_monkey

                            I was there last night and I agree the onion rings are great!

                          2. Can anyone out there in chowland report on a more recent visit? Wondering how they are measuring up these days...

                            I'm especially interested in reports on food other than the burgers.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Enso

                              I have unfortunately been completely avoiding the food but just heard from a reputable source that the meatloaf was great! But then, who knows about next time...

                              1. re: Enso

                                Just went there for lunch today. My boyfriend and I loved the burgers (buns were not stale), the fries were great (spiced), and I finally found a beer I like (Ace Pear)!

                                I did order crab cakes and would report on that but we never received them.

                                Sorry I couldn't help you more.

                                1. re: Enso

                                  Had dinner there over the weekend. The beer is still great, the food is still meh. I had the butternut squash risotto, which is a dish I've loved at other restaurants, especially the Town Talk. This version had way too much black pepper--it overwhelmed the rest of the dish--and the rice was a little soupy. I normally love anything squash but I couldn't finish this. My bf had a walleye sandwich, which he said was pretty good.
                                  They really need to do something about the ventilation. Every time I go there I walk out with my clothes and hair smelling like grease and fried onions. It's unbearable! And when the kitchen is grilling something, if you're sitting near the kitchen, as we were, the smoke actually stings your eyes!

                                2. Ill be back in town visiting next weekend and attending an event just around the corner from here. It would sure seem like a very convenient place to stop off and enjoy a beer or two with some friends - but it would be more encouraging if there were less tepid reviews of the food.

                                  So, from the folks out there who have been here - in a pinch, if avoiding the food wasn't possible, what would you order and what has been the most passable kitchen offering?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                                    Beer!!! but if I had to order food, I've had a pretty good salad and chili. My friends have been happy with the burgers and sandwiches, which come with delicious fries. I'd definitely avoid the pizzas and maybe some of the more "gourmet" items (eg. risotto) because they fall short.