The burger: My sincere thanks to Burger Friday reader Chris Torgerson of Plymouth, who tipped me off to a memorable cheeseburger, one that’s served at an unlikely location.
“We definitely have our favorites around the city, but one that is right up there at the top is — you won’t believe this — Jerry’s Foods on Vernon Avenue in Edina,” she wrote. “I know it seems like a stretch (a grocery store burger), but give it a lunchtime try some day and I honestly don’t think you’ll be disappointed!”
I did, and I wasn’t.
Yes, here's a measure of the widespread embrace of the ongoing renaissance of diner-style, skinny-patty double cheeseburger, the version popularized by Parlour, Revival, Saint Dinette and other restaurants: the style has permeated from some of the Twin Cities’ most innovative kitchens down into a supermarket’s quick-service cafe.
And this is no cursory toss-off. Jerry’s is frying up an impressive (and impressively affordable) iteration. (For those in the east metro, you're in luck; it's also available at the store's Woodbury location).
From the first seriously flavorful bite, it’s clear that the beef is something special (it’s billed as a coarsely ground blend of brisket and top round), and it’s pressed into super-skinny, super-wide patties. They’re cooked to a sizzle on a flat top grill until there’s no trace of pink in the center (heck, the patties are so skinny that there’s barely a center), and delectable, slightly crunchy bits of char start to form around the edges.
An oozy slice of American cheese fuses the two patties together, then a second bubbled-up slice lands on top, forging a highly appealing cheese-to-beef ratio. Don’t care for American? There’s also the choice of Cheddar, Swiss and pepper Jack.
Condiments are plentiful but nothing terribly special: crunchy raw onions, so-so pickles, a decently crisp lettuce leaf and pair of vapid, juiceless tomato slices. There’s definitely room for improvement, although I’ve encountered worse. Plenty worse.
The bun is something of a crowning achievement. Baked by Breadsmith, they’re rich and flavorful, thanks to eggs, a splash of vanilla and a bit of sugar. They’re tall and tender and have a glistening golden crown, and after they’re split they’re generously buttered and lightly toasted. It's a shame that more Twin Cities burger makers aren't taking advantage of them.
The beauty of dining in a supermarket is that those buns are also sold on the premises — in the Edina store, they’re stocked about 15 feet from the Kitchen’s counter — for 99 cents a pop. It’s a wonderful convenience for those who want to replicate Jerry’s burger goodness at home. But given the Kitchen's moderate prices, why not let someone else do the cooking?
Fries: Included. They fall into the thick-cut and skin-on school of french fry-making. The ones I sampled were limp, greasy and barely lukewarm. The burger deserves better company.
Where she burgers: “Parlour is definitely on top of the list for favorite burgers,” said Torgerson. “We’ve even had it delivered. Other favorites include the Nook and Convention Grill, and we also really enjoy JL Beers burgers. The secret of a good burger: awesomely fresh buns. All of these tick that box! My husband insists that Lions Tap is at the top of the list; it’s good when couples can agree to disagree, right?”
Address book: 5125 Vernon Av., Edina, 952-929-2685 and 7760 Hargis Parkway, Woodbury, 651-458-0240. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; burgers served 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.