This is mailbag week at Four Stars: Readers have passed along some tips on best burgers from last month’s awards cycle, and they have a few tips for me to stay abreast of the best broasted chicken in the Rochester area.
First, a tip on burgers from reader Jayne Krause: “I just read your article in the 507 magazine. I would like to recommend, if you haven’t been there, the Silver Star Saloon and Grill in Wabasha. I ate there Monday night, and my burger was just wonderful. The sweet potato fries with honey butter were just sinful.”
Sinful fries? I’m in. Next time we’re in Wabasha, I’ll have to divert my wife away from T-Bones Grill, one of her favorite places, and check out the Silver Star. (Or do both?)
Then there’s Buzz, a regular correspondent of mine, who sent this regarding best burgers: “I would have to say Newt’s is best around here. The very best I’ve had were at Lurk’s in Afton, but that was back in the day.” He also mentioned the Legion club in Plainview before signing off with his standard, “Semper Fi.”
Lurk’s, for the record, apparently closed some years ago. There’s an awesome pic of it online, so check this column at PB507.com for the link. (Also, it may have been spelled “Lerk’s”… I need to check the city directories.)
Karen Rorie put in a plug for Sontes, where she’s the marketing director, but still — you’d be amazed how infrequently I hear from restaurants plugging their own work. Karen says, “I just wanted to let you know that Sontes’ lunch menu includes burgers made with grass-fed beef from Hart Farms in Dover. The beef is ground in our kitchen and specially seasoned. Our menu features the Third Street Burger, which is the classic burger with lettuce, tomatoes and your choice of cheese, and the Burger of the Day, inspired by fresh ingredients.”
A woman who should know burger, having grown up in the former meat-packing town of South St. Paul, Randi K., served this: “I had a burger last week at Pappy’s Place, on the west frontage road of U.S. 52, and it was excellent. Big, juicy, tasty with cheese and bacon. I was licking my lips as my arteries clogged. And the onion rings were superb, too.
“Go big, or go home!”
Sorry, Randi, that motto doesn’t work for a food writer.
Now, regarding broasted chicken, I only have space for one comment today — I’ll save the rest as a nest egg for next week’s column. This is from Laurie S.:
“Sadly, one of the things I do best is eat! So I enjoy the Four Stars series. Regarding your upcoming review of broasted chicken, you should at least try it at Beetle’s out on Second Street Southwest. Washed down with their Beetle Brew (Schell’s Amber), it’s even better.
“Enjoy your research!”
I enjoy every bite of my research, and I agree regarding Beetle’s chicken, though I prefer it washed with a pint of Surly Furious. In fact, I may have to verify that on the way home today.
Remember, the Four Stars of broasted chicken will be plucked from obscurity and made famous in 507 on July 3. Until then, tell me your favorites. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a jingle at 285-7742.
FOUR STARS FLASHBACK
216 First Ave. S.W., Rochester
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
The most distinctive Caesar in town is City Cafe’s grilled version — hearts of romaine are brushed with olive oil and caesar dressing, then tossed on the grill to give it a nicely charred flavor. It’s served just slightly warmed and topped with a drizzling of creamy dressing and baked parmesan crisps. “You can get a Caesar anywhere, but we wanted to take it to a different level,” the Cafe’s bar manager said. “It’s unique and people come in especially for it.”
It’s also a great deal, at $5.45, served with the cafe’s excellent bread, a mound of pesto and a dash of olive oil. For the same price, you can get a traditional, non-grilled Caesar. (February 2013)
1201 S. Broadway, Rochester
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The table tents at the Aussie-themed Outback say, “Don’t be shellfish — share your coconut shrimp,” but that’s easier said than done. It’s a spicy-sweet and reasonably priced appetizer at $8.99, and if you play your cards right, you’ll catch it at happy hour — our server was exceptionally eager to make adjustments and keep the customer happy.
You might not think the Creole marmalade is the right match at first, but it’s a refreshing change from the customary tomato sauce. Also fail-safe is the Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie appetizer, which surprisingly enough is new to the menu. There are other shrimp combos on the menu as well. (August 2011)
Country Pleasures Cafe
17 N. Mantorville Ave., Kasson
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
Among the pleasures at this tiny cafe just off the main drag in Kasson are the pies — an amazing array each day, and when available, the triple-berry is a great place to start, with big juicy berries in a lightly sweetened filling, and a genuine lattice top like grandma used to make. The crust has an almost cookie-like crumb. Get it heated up with ice cream and it definitely qualifies as a country pleasure. (September 2011)