Monday, November 5, 2012

Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub

The Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub is a new brewpub in the Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis. They made news before their doors even opened when they offered free beer for life to early investors. Now that they're open, they're serving their house-made brews along with a full bar menu, with nearly everything, including the beer, touched by smoke.

Their burger is billed as a 7oz black angus patty served on an egg bun. Standard acoutrements are mayo, lettuce, and tomato for the $7.25 base price. I added fried onion ($0.50) and 2 slices of smoked cheddar ($1.50) to bring the grand total to $9.25. I ordered mine medium.

I had mixed impressions when it arrived. On the plus side, the thick coating of melted cheese permeated the small pile of fried onions atop the bun, and the lettuce provided was a few leaves of Bibb lettuce -- not something you normally see on a brewpub (or anywhere) burger. On the other hand, the patty itself had a distinctly 'prefab' appearance, with those squared edges that, at best, betray a burger patty made in a burger press but at worst imply something out of a Sysco truck. The cross section showed the meat was cooked very nearly to well-done -- nowhere near the medium requested.

Still, it's the taste that matters. And again, a mixed bag. The beef was decently seasoned, for the most part, but a bit on the dry side and not particularly distinctive on its own. The cheese, when tasted alone, had a nice smokiness to it, but it was hard to detect that flavor in the whole ensemble. The fried onions, though, were great -- they were slightly undercooked so they still had a little bit of that raw onion bite, in both flavor and texture, along with the sweetness of grilled onion. And the bun was fan-frickin'-tastic. Definitely the best bun I've had in a long while here in the Twin Cities -- extremely fresh, a little sweet, tough enough not to fall apart in your hands but soft enough to not interfere with the burger eating experience (I'm looking at you, Rye Deli onion bialy bun), and moist without being soggy.

In the end, though, the bun's perfection wasn't enough to overcome the more fundamental issue with the burger -- the meat's just average flavor and it's overcooked-ness. If you're here getting a beer, the burger is an ok choice, but I'd probably choose something else next time -- like maybe the waffle-batter-dipped fried chicken sandwich, which my friend said was quite good, and is served on the same awesome egg bun.

Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub

(612) 328-1450

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