Monday, February 22, 2010

Common Roots

The cheeseburger of the week is from Common Roots Cafe at Lyndale and 26th. Common Roots opened a few years ago and has become very popular for both the quality of and their commitment to using as much environmentally-friendly and/or locally-produced food as possible.

On paper, this is a quality burger; the specs listed on the menu are Thousand Hills grass-fed beef, cheddar cheese, and a sourdough bun. When I ordered, they asked me how I wanted it cooked -- always a good sign that a place has confidence in their meat. I ordered mine medium and sat down at a table to read The New Yorker while I waited.

(Apologies for the low-quality was fairly dark and I had to turn the ISO setting on my camera up to avoid having to use the flash.)

When it arrived, the first thing I was struck by was the smell -- it was this glorious, rich, beefy smell that other burgers just don't have -- I'm assuming this is a result of the grass-fed beef. I actually spent a while just appreciating the aroma. It looked to be about 1/3-lb, which to me is the perfect size for a burger. The burger was served with a slice of tomato, some mixed greens, and what I at first thought was mayo but turned out to be a powerful garlic aioli. And, hallelujah, no pickle!

Cutting it in half revealed that it was indeed cooked to medium as requested. A few areas were done a little more than others, but that's ok by me. It was plenty juicy without having the plate pooled with delicious beef nectar. Then I took a bite and was assaulted by a nearly overpowering amount of salt in the meat. Now, don't get me wrong. I love salt. I am a salt fiend. And this burger was overseasoned to my taste -- I actually had to force myself to finish it. It's so sad because everything else about this burger was so promising. The real standout here, besides the intoxicating smell, was the bun. It had a distinct-but-not-overpowering sourdough taste and a pleasant amount of chewiness without being so tough as to make eating the burger difficult (imagine trying to eat a burger on a baguette or the like -- it just isn't a good idea). The garlic aioli was a nice surprise as, besides loving salt, I love garlic too. The tomato was low on flavor, but it is the dead of winter in Minnesota so accommodations can be made.

In the end, I wanted to love this cheeseburger. It had all the elements for success but was brought down by the overseasoned meat. Sad.

Common Roots Cafe
2558 South Lyndale Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55405
(612) 871-2360

Until the next post...happy cheeseburgers.


Z said...

That burger LOOKS ridiculously good... but it doesn't look medium from the picture. It looks pretty rare.

Really weird that it was oversalted. I don't think I've ever had an oversalted burger.

Asad said...

I know, it does look amazing. It was definitely cooked medium. The low light makes it hard to tell from the pictures, but it was pretty uniformly pink and had the texture of cooked rather than raw ground beef.

Another friend of mine said he's had a few overseasoned things from this particular place, and I've had an overseasoned risotto from there too...there's something systemic.