Friday, January 18, 2008

Buster's - We Did It!

Mwa HA! We did it! We dined at Buster's! Last time we attempted to eat there, things went poorly. This time I would not be out manuevered - I would EAT, WIN AND SIT! Maybe not exactly in that order, but success would be mine. Our strategy was deceptively simple - we are old and married (read - lame.) We shall do what the old married people do and get there as early as possible and eat quickly so as to get home at a reasonable hour. We would play our music at an appropriate level and Sarah and I would wear sweaters to gaurd us against the chill!
Matt and I had already laid down our cool points at the alter of the Turf Club. I used to go there every Tuesday - I knew everybody and I'd like to say I did alright with the fellas, if ya know what I'm sayin'. A little drinking, possibly singing, chatting up a bunch of posturing musicians, 40 cigarettes and a drive through Taco Bell and I was SET for work the next day. Totally cool. This week - after a quiet, uninteresting dinner at Muffaletta, we decided to stop in for a drink. Dude. We were the only people in there that didn't work there. It was the dead hour between the day time University Avenue drunks and before the bands started to show up for the night. We.Are. LAME.
True to form, Matt, Tony and Sarah were all early. I had a small pressing matter at work that kept me behind for just a bit. I arrived at 5:32 and everyone was seated and ready. I tried to get comfortable at the tall table Matt had chosen, but my stubby little legs just didn't reach anything. They just dangled uselessly under me. I would have suggested that we move to a booth, but they were quickly filling up. What is it with this place? Would it just KILL the payroll to have someone watch the door and control this chaos?
The waitress suggested the home fried potato chips and Matt wanted to try the chorizo corn fritters for appetizers. The fried chips were from some seriously large russets and served with a side of French onion dip that was fashioned after the Lipton soup variety, but was actually make with real onions. Tony fears onions, but was able to happily much away on the cream cheese once the offending onion was removed. He's funny.
The corn fritters were excellent. Fried, sweet, corny balls with super spicy sausage tucked into the center. They were served above a chipotle creme fresh that was wonderful. It was a cool, creamy, smokey answer to the fried dough balls. There were three huge ones and we all tried to be polite about sharing. It was hard. We're a polite group, but chuck a fried ball of wonderful into the fray and things have the potential to get ugly. Tony's deft with a butter knife, but I commend Sarah's stealth and quick fingers. She's good for an ol married broad.
She and I were sipping the wine of the week - a zinfandel that usually goes for $9 a glass, but was on special for $7. We should have just ordered a bottle - it would have been cheaper. It was good, but not great. The wines struck me as a little over priced, but it is a beer place. If you're not sure what beer you would like to order, the waitresses are ready to pour off a double shot of whichever brew you're considering for a quick taste test. Both Tony and Matt were pleased with their selections, but tried several more over the course of our dinner. They all seemed wonderful, but I have a hard time working up a beer craving when it's minus kabillion outside.
For an entree, Matt and I ordered the bison burger to share. Tony had the chicken pesto pizza and Sarah had the salad with the maple vinegrette. I noted that Tony had ordered a pizza the last time we had dinner together. He's a creature of habit, that one.
In keeping with our old people theme of the evening, I asked Matt if he'd like me to cut up his burger into managable pieces and dip them in water before he tried get them down. I didn't want the food upsetting his delicate disgestive track. He didn't answer, but looked at me in a tired sort of way. Perhaps his aid was not turned up to proper volume.
Our burger was probably the best bison burger I've ever had. It came with a generous scoop of chilli seasoned cream cheese. We scraped most of it off. The flavor added a lot, but that was just too much. There seemed to be mayo of some sort on the bottom of it, too. They killed any hopes of claiming this was a healthier choice than a regular burger, but no matter. The bun was cold, too - that could stand to be improved. Other than that, the flavor was just amazing. It was crispy charred on the outside and disintigratingly tender on the inside. It was slightly under done, but that was just fine because I'd rather have it mooing (grunting...? Braying? Snorting? What's a bison do?) than be served a charred rememberance of an oven floor. The seasoning on the burger married beautifully (aw! MARRIED) with the spicy, smooth taste of the cream cheese.
The fries were clearly made in house in that charming, irregular dark brown way that home made fries can be. I was surprised to find that I even really enjoyed the house ketchup. I've always believed that Heinz figured it out and everyone else should just give it up. Yes, I like to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup if possible, but a little dab of ketchup doesn't hurt anything! Their house ketchup was good! Tomatoey, spicy, mellow, complex - it was amazing! I couldn't believe that I liked it.
Sarah's salad was good, if a little uninspired. I'd made a maple vinegrette salad for a dinner party that Andy and I threw last weekend so I'm totally biased.
Tony's pizza was lovely. The chicken wasn't dried out at all and there was all kinds of cheese all over the place. The crust may have been a little under done. That's about it, though.
This is exactly what we Midwesterners seem to want. Reasonable food at a reasonable price, but maybe done just a little better, a little tweaked from the standard fare. We're not talking crazy. Something reasonable and practical. That's exactly what there is to be found at Buster's. It's reasonable and good. I do hate the seating thing, though. I want that to change. I had dropped my sweatshirt on the floor and almost forgotten it. When I went back in I got the hairy eyeball from the girl who took my still warm seat. Dude, back off. You can have the table. Jeez.
Busters seems a lot like the Bulldog NE of South Minneapolis. The last couple of times that I've been to Bulldog, it does seem to be slipping a bit. I'd better go check it again. Tonight, Bulldog, tots, Candy and Bobby. I'll let you know what we think. If I make it all the way until 8 o'clock when the Wildman Wizz shows up. There is a very real and sad possibility that I'll be on my way home and in bed. I was swathed in chill pants by 8:15 last night. What are you kidding me!? With this weather and the young kids today - ahhh! Who needs the hassles? Am I right?


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