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Feb 15, 2014 12:45 AM

Tried Sidetrack Bar & Grill in Ypsilanti, MI...

...and folks, I've gotta tell you up front: I honestly don't get it. There is/was absolutely *nothing* about that meal, save the service, that would ever make me want to go back there and get another burger with fries. If someone else *insisted* on going there, and was willing to pay for my meal, so long as I could order something non-burger of type, I might go back. Otherwise, I am done with that, and I leave absolutely slack-jawed as to how this place ever became known for its burger.

This is coming from someone who doesn't hold Millers in Dearborn too highly anymore, either, but trust me when I say that, while Millers has gone downhill in recent years, even the current incarnation of Millers burger is *leaps and bounds* better than the one I had tonight at Sidetrack. This is going to hurt, but I'm going to say it: the burger I had tonight was in the same league as GFS' frozen hockey puck burgers, in terms of flavor and enjoyability. They're both functional as food, but brother, that is *it*.

It was nothing shy of a slimy, slightly overcooked (medium well when I asked for medium), flavorless thing. The fries? They functioned, again, as food, but they're certainly not my favorite type of fries (think of the consistency of Scotty Simpsons' chips...that kind of thing), but I have no desire to eat them again. That burger, though...nothing was saving it. The grilled onions were just disgusting, the lettuce and tomato both probably too wet (also without flavor, but fair's fair: this is *not* the season for tomatoes), even the bacon I ordered on top (very reasonably priced at $.75 for two strips) wasn't crispy or satisfying. Neither is the bun anything of consequence.

The beef is where the real issue is, though. I can sit here in all honesty and say that I've had far, *far* better beef at someplace as simple as Wendy's. Not kidding: better flavor and better texture, for certain. I'm not saying that Sidetrack charges too much for a be honest, when I looked at the menu and saw that it was $6, I was quite frankly surprised that such a famous burger would be that inexpensive (the fries add another $2.50, the bacon adds $.75, and the Coke adds $2.25, so before you know it, you're at $14.50 or so out the door). Once I got it, I can say with certainty that if that's what you get for $6, it's a waste. For $14.50, I consider it a pretty inexpensive-yet-instructive lesson: now I never have to go back there.

My server did a pretty darned good job. When she brought my Coke initially, she brought a glass filled with ice and Coke *as well as* a carafe with extra Coke so she wouldn't have to be schlepping back and forth to keep my glass filled. Most everything she did was just fine by me, though she was a bit hard-to-find at one point, when the carafe went empty. No trouble: another server was happy to help me, and that's all I really care about. She offered to take my burger back for me, but there really wasn't a point in doing so: it was edible, and if they can't get a burger right that they're famous for, there's no point in having the kitchen try it again.

By the end, I asked for a manager just to see if my expectations were out of line. He was apologetic, but there really wasn't a whole lot he could do for me with regards to the burger...nor did I really want him to. They're nice enough folks, but man, that burger being something special? Only the short bus kind of special.

And to think that I purposely didn't go to Haifa Falafel so that I could try Sidetrack. "And bad mistakes, I've made a few..." If you've never been, don't bother, at least not for a burger. How "GQ" could have made this a Top 20 burger in the country has me convinced that the "Bar" part of the place's name had a lot more to do with their rating than the "Grill" part ever could.

As bad a flop as Prince Fielder trying to get back to third base, only, you know...the people working there were fine.

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  1. True that. While I order on the light side, I never consider the bites from my BF's burger at the Sidetrack special. Bad? No. But not memorable. Not worth the hype. I stick to the chili (good, but nothing special), salad. and I can easily be convinced to share the fried mushrooms--these are a juicy, flavorful dish at the Sidetrack. Worth every calorie.
    For a burger in Ypsi, the answer is simple: The Wurst Bar. The meat there is remarkable & topping options are unique. (Mr Peanut, The Southerner). The only problem at The Wurst Bar is that the sausage options tend to call out to me more. But, hell yeah, their hamburgers are very good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: trapani

      This This This.....I am in love with the burgers here. Also helps that they have a good rotating stock of beers and Angels Envy Bourbon.

      Have been liking the Basement Burger Bar in Canton, Getting the Blue Burger with Kobe (Yes I know its just Waygu). The bar sucks there though...

    2. I always feel bad bashing sidetrack because it has a lot of good points. But I have NEVER understood the burger love. I think they've changed it radically from when they made top burger lists in a few magazines. Hate sidetrack for fries and mixed drinks. Love their fried pickles, beers and the sidecar chicken sandwich, which is now off the menu. They do some good specials and salads, but I have never had a meal there that blew me away. That said, it is a top-notch place for drinking with a group of friends, winter or summer.

      For a cheaper burger fix, I like Roy's Squeeze Inn.

      2 Replies
      1. re: charlesbois

        Have you tried the new Roy's Squeeze Inn bar on Ellsworth? I'm curious about it.

        1. re: Jim M

          I have and it' weird. I would say the food is almost identical to the one on Michigan. The ambiance is much, much different. It's a huge ugly room with a lot of tacky mismatched knickknacks and furniture. There are a bunch of tvs and I think a small stage/dance floor area for karaoke or a small band. We went at 6 pm on a Friday and we were the only ones there. I'm sure they get a later bar crowd. I was pregnant at the time, so I didn't try anything from the bar, but it looked like their drink specials were insanely cheap. Like $2 well drinks, and $1.50 long necks, something like that. Basically prices I was paying in the 90s at the 8ball in A2. I'm guessing the clientele is basically a representation of the general populace of a Ypsi, mostly working class folks looking for some cheap drinks.

          Edit to add I just looked at the menu and the bar & grill Roy's on Ellsworth has steak hoagies, whereas the one on Michigan does not. I did have the steak hoagie and it was ok, nothing special but not terrible. If I wanted a cheesesteak though, I'd just go down to Gabriel's.

      2. I never get the burger there - it's just okay, not great. However, you missed the best thing on their menu that you absolutely need to return there to try...that is the fried pickle spears. They are fantastic!