Twinburger at MSP Airport

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Matt’s Bar has been a Minneapolis staple for umpteen years (59 years, for you history buffs). However, if you strip away the nostalgic allure and hometown feel, what are you left with? Bland, adequate cheese escaping from two flattened patties between a ho-hum bun. In a word: mediocrity. We were curious if the reinvented concept inspired by the Matt’s Jucy Lucy could rival the originator. Cue Twinburger.

After passing through airport security and the sea of glowing iPads that mark the renovated G Concourse of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, we were greeted by more iPads, smiling faces, and a Jackson 5 track at Twinburger. The restaurant is OTG Management’s newest locally inspired addition to the airport (Heavy Table editor James Norton sums up the other OTG concepts over at Minnesota Monthly). In Twinburger’s infancy, Scott Nelson, the owner of Matt’s Bar, consulted on the menu — similar to other local chefs consulting on their Concourse G ventures.

In true American diner fashion, we bellied up and began to order.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

While it’s important to note Twinburger’s Jucy Lucy (which was decent, but in dire need of more cheese), its offspring does a better job of telling the restaurant’s story. Enter the Jucy Twins ($12): Smothered between a soft, substantial bun lie two hearty patties, pickles, caramelized onions, a American-Pepper Jack mashup, and spicy garlic mayo. The meat was flavorful and cooked to our liking. After our first bite, we soon realized that bacon (not onions) and just American cheese were supposed to be in this towering burger’s arsenal. But we weren’t mad about it. The onions were cooked well, to the burger’s benefit. And the added heat gave us yet another reason to drink more beer.

Whether you’re a wayward hipster or a local beer backer, Twinburger’s beer selection ranges from canned PBR and Hamm’s to vessels of Fulton, Surly, and Summit. Lucid Air, hailing from Minnetonka, and Brau Brothers Moo Joos from Lucan, MN, also made the cut. We sipped on local brews — pinkies up.

In life, only a few moments take your breath away. One at Twinburger came sort of close to one of those moments. The restaurant’s Smoking Lucy ($9) was the belle of the ball. Cascading over the cheddar-stuffed patty’s surface were chipotle, bacon, and ranch sauce. While adding up to a recipe for heartburn, they all worked in unison to create a bold flavor profile. Our taste buds were firing on all cylinders. The coolness of the ranch sauce kept the chipotle heat at bay and also hit a high note alongside the bacon. It was a gosh-darn good burger. Our minds were telling us no, but our hearts were telling us to keep eating. And we did.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

However, the hand-cut Krinkle Fries ($4) were a letdown. They lacked golden crispiness and inspiration and were, quite frankly, kind of sad. A two-sentence review is all the attention they deserve. Next.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

At $8.50 a pop, the portion of the Wedge Salad was very generous. A slew of good-sized lettuce wedges was drizzled with tarragon dressing and topped with Gorgonzola, making for a pleasing dish. The bacon pieces added some delightful crunchiness. The toppings were spot on — not too small, not too big — just right. Bonus: Real, ripe cherry tomatoes were used, not the kind from a hot lunch program. To put it simply, it was a fine salad, especially considering we were in an airport terminal.

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi
Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi

Long-running institutions like Matt’s Bar certainly have their place, and we thank them for that. But are we too consumed with a restaurant’s reputation and history that we overlook what we’re actually eating? [Airport] food for thought.

American fare in Concourse G

MSP International Airport – Terminal 1
4300 Glumack Dr
Minneapolis, MN 55111
OWNER: OTG Management
HOURS: First flight to last flight
ENTREE RANGE: Salads and starters $5-$11, burgers and sandwiches $5-$12
BAR: Yes

One Comment

  1. Sheraton

    “But are we too consumed with a restaurant’s reputation and history that we overlook what we’re actually eating?”

    At Matt’s Bar? No, quite the opposite.

    At Matt’s what you taste is what you get. There is no charming story about the origins of a Bakery fresh bun (It’s far from bakery fresh). No wondering if the onions are organic and locally sourced (they’re dehydrated and from a box). No romanticizing about Heritage beef grazing in flowered grass pastures (It’s conventional corn fed). And no wondering what Artisan cheese is oozing from the burger (only American “cheese” oozes like that).

    Yes all the pieces may be mediocre, but they are treated with the skill (and restraint) only a fry cook who churns out 1000 burgers a day can administer.

    What good is a bakery fresh bun if it’s too dense, or not substantial enough to handle the burger it holds? What good is grass fed beef if it isn’t fresh, properly seasoned, or fatty enough to make a juicy burger? What good is artisan cheese when it can’t liquify and mix with the fat to produce a delicious sauce that is elevated above both the cheese and grease it contains?

    A dish is the sum of it’s parts, and is at its most rewarding when it transcends those parts. Matt’s does this in a way that possibly no other dish in town does and that’s something we should celebrate, not second guess. Matt’s certainly does have it’s place, and it may be at the bottom. Everyone on top should be standing on Matt’s shoulders not pushing it’s head in the mud.

    In the spirit of full disclosure—I like Matt’s.

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