If you had to (got to?) choose between peanut butter and grape jelly on your burger, which would you pick? Thinking of Indonesian satay and Vietnamese peanut sauce, you might go with the peanut butter. Remembering your grandmother’s meatballs with lingonberry jam, you might go with the grape jelly.
On the other hand, after scanning the other 52 burger offerings at King’s Place in Miesville, you might decide to go another direction altogether. How about green olives? Potatoes? A fried egg? Or a sliced hot dog?
Terri Lawrence, who co-owns the bar and grill with her parents and brother, says that last one is a no-brainer.
“People say, ‘A hot dog?’ And I say, ‘Yeah, it’s a beef hot dog on a beef burger, try it.’ And they like it!”
Lawrence’s family bought King’s 26 years ago. Back then, it was a grocery store with a small burger bar serving four types of burgers. They got rid of the groceries and added a video rental section. Then, with the video business lagging and the burgers booming, they knocked out a wall to add more tables and let the menu keep growing and growing and growing.
The burgers themselves are medium-thick and hand-formed, raggedy around the edges to allow for plenty of good crispy brown parts — like the perfect backyard barbecue burger. The kitchen has figured out a way to use just the right amount of toppings, no matter how crazy, so the soft bun can contain it all without too much mess. Most folks from the Cities will find the burgers a steal: less than $5 for any of the 1/3-pound burgers, no matter what’s on it; add $2.75 for a more-than-generous half-pounder. There’s really nothing green or health-conscious on the menu, aside from a standard side salad — and, uhh, the batter-fried green beans. But you’re here for the burgers.
When somebody comes up with a new idea for a topping or combination, the kitchen gives it a try, handing out slices of burgers to regulars during lunch time. If the regulars give the new burger the nod, it gets the chance to try out for the big leagues. There are currently eight hopefuls on the “Tryouts” section of the menu, including the grape jelly and peanut butter burgers, as well as one with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Not every one will make the cut the next time the menu is revised.
Of the 54 burgers vying for the fans’ attention, Lawrence says the Bases Loaded is the most popular. “It’s got a bite to it. It’s got three different kinds of cheese, salsa, sour cream, bacon, and jalapeno.”
Her own favorite? The Short Stop, topped with sauerkraut and sour cream.
Non-beef-eaters can also choose from the more limited menu of a dozen chicken sandwiches, or ask nicely to have their favorite burger toppings on a chicken breast.
And there are always new burgers waiting in the bullpen. In fact, is there anything out there that doesn’t belong on a burger? “I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet!” Lawrence says. “ If somebody comes in with an idea or says, ‘Let’s try this,’ we’re game to try something different on our burgers.”
Wait a minute, though. Why all the baseball references? Well, that’s got to do with the other big attraction in Miesville, which is right across the street from King’s: the beautiful home stadium of the Miesville Mudhens, who play Class B ball in the Classic Cannon Valley League. (A homerun goes straight into the cornfield, and the sun tends to set behind the outfield ‘round about the sixth inning.) On game days, there’s a line out the door and the wait for a table can hit half an hour or more. King’s doesn’t take reservations. “People would get mad if we did,” Lawrence explains.
That’s when you realize that, hey, the entire population of Miesville, MN, is just 135. Has every man, woman, and child turned out for a burger and a ballgame? Well, maybe, yeah. Baseball is big here. And both the team — which is currently leading the Classic Cannon Valley League, with a 10-0 record in the league and a 20-3 record overall — and King’s draw regular visitors from the Cities.
Right on Highway 61, just a few miles from Hastings, King’s pulls in roadtrippers in the summer and skiers and snowboarders in the winter. It has attracted attention from Minnesota Monthly and Jason Davis, for KSTP’s “On the Road.”
But, while those clippings hang on the wall, they won’t change the way Terri Lawrence and her family run the business. “We work real hard to keep it family oriented,” she says. “We try to spend time with our customers, and we have one customer who says, ‘Where else can you go to get a good burger and you get a hug with it?’ It’s kind of cool.”
Just as importantly, Lawrence knows how her customers like their burgers. Grape jelly, if you were wondering, “is going over really well.” But the peanut butter, bacon, lettuce, and mayo burger? Well, she says, less confidently, “The people who try it really like it.”
Bar and grill in Miesville
14460 240th St (Hwy 61)
OWNER / CHEF: Terri Lawrence
(Later on weekends if there is a crowd)
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: No
ENTREE RANGE: $3-7