As every employee’s T-shirt will tell you when you step into Tommy’s Malt Shop in Chaska, the restaurant’s goal is “making classic food great again.” Unfortunately, the shop — with the exception of some tasty malts — fails to live up to this promise. A more accurate description would be “making bland versions of typical American fare.”
It’s easy to get behind a concept like Tommy’s — after all, who doesn’t love malts? — and the ice cream-based drinks ($4.35 for the full size, $3.35 for the half size) are smooth going down the gullet. Though you can pick among flavors ranging from blueberry and raspberry to marshmallow fluff, you can’t go wrong with the classic vanilla and chocolate. The richness of the former doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing out by ordering such a simple malt, and the flavor of the latter is reminiscent of the frozen malt cups served at the Metrodome all those years. The half size is one glass worth of creamy goodness and is plenty if you’re not sharing, but if you think your dining companions are going to be stealing sips, it’s best to order the full size.
The restaurant’s stumbling point, however, is its food. While the merits of area burger joints spark endless debate on this website and in other publications, it would be hard to imagine anyone staunchly defending Tommy’s burgers ($5 and up). The thin, unseasoned patties fail to impress, and the hefty but blah buns tend to drown out the beefy taste anyway. Only by piling my burger with pickles was I able to discern any flavor coming from between the bread. The barbecue sauce on the Cowboy Burger lacked a depth that would have brought that burger to life, and if there were onion rings as promised, they were hard to discern. The child’s grilled-cheese sandwich and classic fries were serviceable, but the waffle fries ($5.65 for a full order, $3.65 for a half order) were a major disappointment — limp, almost soggy, and completely unseasoned. The salt shaker got a heavy workout at our table.
So when should you go to Tommy’s Malt Shop, if at all? When you’re craving a icy drink on a hot day or don’t want to end your date night too early, stop by for a malt or a sundae. Otherwise, satisfy your burger needs elsewhere. The Lions Tap isn’t far away.
BEST BET: The chocolate malt — spring for the full size. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t.
Old-fashioned malt shop in Chaska
2 River Bend Pl
Chaska, MN 55318
OWNERS: Brett and Emily Geselle
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $5-8.25