Before the days of Smashburger, Burger Jones, and American Burger Bar, the Twin Cities had Bulldog N.E. Building on the Twin Cities burger movement, which had recently been revitalized by the 112 truffle burger, Bulldog N.E. opened in 2006 to accolades for their version, which featured hand-ground Kobe beef.
Not long after that auspicious opening, however, doubts began to swirl about the quality of the burgers that had once been all the rage. Polarized opinions were readily expressed; perhaps the most concerning opinions were, and continue to be, those that say the burgers are fantastic… when they are “on.”
With an air of uncertainty surrounding the consistency of the Bulldog N.E. burger, it seemed that a return visit was due.
Crowded, as usual, open seats were found at the large bar. After a quick glance at the menu, an order was placed — a house burger with Tillamook Smoked Cheddar.
The food arrived quickly, the basket full with the large burger topped with a toothpick-speared green olive and a generous side of hand-cut fries. The fries were fantastic, salty and crisp, but the burger?
It was prepared well, a nice char on the outside with a perfectly pink center, but the first indicator that something was amiss was the bottom bun; it was a soggy mess. Perhaps the cook forgot to let the burger sit for a minute before putting it on the bun; a forgivable mistake, in my book. Cutting the burger in half, however, proved that this was simply not the case.
This burger was greasy, and not the kind of greasy we all secretly love — rather, this grease was oily and oozed out of every surface area of the burger. Clearly this is not a case of forgetting to let the meat rest.
Only a few bites in and my meal was over. Contemplating how a burger could be so unappetizing and sloppy, it crossed my mind that perhaps it was a fluke. But as grease continued to pool in the corner of the paper-lined basket, the man across the bar requested that his meal be returned to the kitchen and a different order be prepared. A strong suspicion suggested that this was no fluke.
A return visit a couple weeks later begged to give the burger another try. This time ordering the Rooster upon the waiter’s recommendation, which features a Sriracha glaze, housemade sweet pickles, roasted garlic aioli, and pepperjack cheese. If nothing else, this burger should scream with flavor with these toppings.
Although not as greasy as the previous visit’s burger (soggy bun still there, but absent of any pools of grease), a couple bites in and, again, no more burger could be eaten. The same oily taste was there, prevailing over the gentle heat from the glaze and cheese and sweetness of the pickles. Another meal of downing only those tasty french fries for me.
Is the controversy about the Bulldog N.E.’s burger greatness validated? Although not a perfect test, my opinion has been formed. What was initially touted as such careful preparation — grinding the meat and cooking it to perfection — the Bulldog burger is as sloppy as the bun it is served upon.