The Bulldog is a local bar that happens to have great bar food. The location nearest me, in Uptown, is the original location, while the one in Northeast is supposed to be in more of the 'gastropub' vein (I don't know anything about the St. Paul Lowertown incarnation). Whatever. The Lyndale location is within walking distance so that's where I went.
I went in on a Wednesday night and found it surprisingly full. I ordered a patty melt, since I hadn't had one in a while and I happen to love patty melts. For those that aren't familiar with the concept, allow me to explain: Start with a burger patty. Cook. Add cheese and caramelized onions. Throw the resulting assemblage between slices of rye bread and grill until crispy and melty, then eat. The variant at the Bulldog is an excellent example on paper (both figuratively and literally, as it's served in a paper-lined basket), with a half pound of Angus beef, both swiss and cheddar cheese slices, and marble rye. I ordered mine medium with a side of tater tots (a 50 cent upcharge over the standard fries) which put the total at $9.00 even.
Or, at least I thought I had ordered it. After sitting and watching numerous other tables get their food, it turned out that my server had forgotten to put my order in with the kitchen. She was very apologetic and confirmed my order before sending it to the kitchen, and she comped my beverage as a way of apology.
When the patty melt came out, I was first disappointed by the pickle spear resting across my tater tots, contaminating their pillowy, golden, crunchy deliciousness with vile pickle juice. I removed the pickle posthaste and quarantined the contaminated tots before inspecting the patty melt. The slices of rye were thick and unseeded and the cheese was melted and gooey -- a promising start.
The melt arrived already cut in half and initially looked like the meat had been overcooked, but I think this was just some sort of edge effect: the interior of the patty was cooked to a perfect pink medium, while the cut edges were a little more cooked due to whatever residual heat was casting about. Sadly, the interior of the meat was not seasoned to a perfect level of seasoning. In fact, I doubt any salt was added at all (I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record with my constant harping on the excess or lack of salt in the various burgers I eat, but...it's important!). On the other hand, the rye had great flavor and the caramelized onions really tie the whole burger together. Also, I didn't have meat juice napalm squeezing out onto my hands or basket, so that was nice.
Besides the lack of seasoning, I think they could have given a little more flavor just by searing the meat a little more. The patty had only a minor level of browning (possibly due to the lack of salt to draw moisture out of the meat) and could easily have used more Maillard reaction to create delicious flavors and texture at the surface of the meat. Similarly, the bread, which is supposed to be grilled to give a crispy, toasted surface, felt like it only had a perfunctory look at the griddle. It's possible that my server had put my melt in as a rush order, though, so it would take some more data to see if this was just a one-off fluke. And I'll definitely be back.
2549 S. Lyndale Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55405