Seven Deadly Sins of Twin Cities Dining: Part 3

Journeying through the Seven Deadly Sins of Twin Cities dining we now find ourselves thoroughly immersed in the world of the damned. First giving in to lust and gluttony and more recently to fried food greed, late-night lackadaisical gorging, and hell-fire hot wings.

This final segment explores the deadliest of sins: Envy and Pride.

Envy: La Belle Vie Tasting Menu

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Becoming “green with envy,” as the saying goes, is a common reaction to articles and blog posts describing La Belle Vie‘s Tasting Menu. Inevitably, the author first describes his or her internal struggle with ordering such an extravagant meal (Chef’s Tasting Menu for $80 or Five Course Tasting Menu for $65), a feeling with which most of us can identify. But soon all that is forgotten, and the focus is now on the plate before them as they pull out all the stops trying to describe first the anticipation, then the presentation and, finally, each taste. It is at this precise moment when envy rears its big, ugly head.

While the author rambles on about truffles, foie gras, and delicate pastry crusts, your internal struggle continues — Could I really splurge that much on just one meal? Could it really be worth it? Could it be that good? It’s an individual decision, of course, but until tried there will always be that perfectly described, pedestal-perched meal that leaves you just a little green.

Pride: Twin Cities Gourmet Burgers
Often considered the original and most deadly, pride is to be blamed for all other sins. Excessive love of oneself, arrogance, and the desire to be better than others drive us to commit acts such as lust, greed, and wrath. It is this high sense of worth that leads us to the manifestation of the deadliest sin of Twin Cities dining: gourmet burgers. We lust after them, are gluttonous in our eating of them, and yet our greedy selves just can’t get enough of them.

But how could something as common as a burger think itself worthy of the title “gourmet” and the price tag it bears? What nerve!

Believe it or not, burgers everywhere are competing for the title, challenging us to reconsider our thoughts on gourmet. From Joe’s Garage to Vincent to 112 Eatery to The Bulldog NE, the gourmet burger craze has exploded over the last 10 years. In place of the standard beef and bun combo, lamb, Kobe beef, or other meats are now piled onto a bun (or bun substitute like 112’s English muffin) and dressed with every cheese, topping, and condiment imaginable. Mushrooming past the standard cheddar, pepperjack, and Swiss, the cheeses range from brie to gouda to chevre. And don’t think that a little bacon or mushrooms will dress these burgers up. No, they prefer a higher class of ingredient such as truffle oil, Asian slaw, or prosciutto.

With high standards like these, one would think the market would be quite specialized, but instead the burger boom has just begun. Newcomer restaurants like the American Burger Bar, offering “The Experience” (Kobe beef, black truffles, parmesan, and braised short ribs) for $18.95, and soon-to-open Burger Jones that will introduce lobster as a topping, are simply taking the craze over the top.

Has our demand for craving the ultimate burger bombshell experience enabled such elitist behavior? Perhaps, but even so some doubt remains that this craze will continue to reign. Will the gourmet burger prove itself worthy of such ingredients and price or will its continual attempt to better the competition spiral the gourmet burger to a final fate?


  1. brian

    Pride indeed will destroy the gourmet burger in the TC. While I was once the most vocal proponent of the Bulldog NE and its decadent truffle burger, recent experiences have soured my taste for their Kobe beef. There was a string of visits where my burger was consistently overcooked — the attention to detail that was there in the B-dog’s beginning seemingly disappeared.

    I strongly suggest these new burger entrepreneurs read the blog “A Hamburger Today” for a look into the real burger zietgeist. Rather than obnoxious toppings and boutique buns, burger lovers really want a nice grind with a little fat, cooked to order, juicy not dry, topped with simple cheese, all on a nice bordering on generic white bun. Indeed, give me a medium-rare plain cheeseburger at the Nook or the Lion’s Tap any day of the week over the places mentioned.

  2. Chase

    It’s nothing compared to NYC, where gourmet burgers run in the $40-100 range (and some even more than that).

    I would add Lurcat to the list. Best gourmet burgers in the Twin Cities IMO, with 112 very close behind. If I’m not mistaken, the chef who created the burgers at Lurcat is now at 112. Also, Spoonriver has a lamb burger that could be considered gourmet.

  3. Kirk

    When I eat out, I look for something that I can’t make at home–so your apps at La Belle Vie fit that. However, I just can’t get over how easy it is to make a “gourmet” burger at home–and therefore struggle with the idea that this should be something that we as a culinary culture should be proud of.

  4. Chase

    Kirk, if you can make me a burger that tastes even remotely like the ones at Lurcat or 112 then you must be a damn good cook.

  5. ryanol

    The burger has been bastardized past the point of recognition. Keep yer fancy fixins off my burger…fried onions, bacon, cheese, are acceptable toppings. Foie Gras, caviar, cheese from france and any meat other than beef…unacceptable. I am sure that they are great sandwiches but they’ll never a great hamburger.

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