The burger: So this is how my mind operates. One bite into the burger at BoneYard Kitchen & Bar, and my brain immediately went flying to the 1966 novelty pop hit, “I Love Onions,” kazoos and all. Yeah, I know. Anyway. My point is that onion lovers will flip over this bruiser of a burger.
“It’s my grandmother’s hamburger secret,” said chef Jason Bush. “Growing up, she was the one who taught me how to make the hamburger meat. She'd finely mince the onions until they were really mushy. She’d squeeze the juice out of them, then add that onion pulp to the burger meat, ending with a splash of Worcestershire sauce.”
The flavor of those carefully chopped onions really comes to life under the grill’s heat. The patty is taken to a straight-up medium, bordering on medium-well, without sacrificing juiciness.
“My grandmother was old school,” said Bush with a laugh. “She came from the generation that cooked their burgers to well done, and if they were thick, they’d turn out like hockey pucks.”
Which explains why, under close examination, you’ll see that the single, noticeably thick patty is actually two quarter-pound patties, stacked together, with a slice of white Cheddar draped over the top of each. That format turns the cheese between the two patties into a kind of stroll down Juicy Lucy Lane.
More onions come in the form of a garnish, a cap of thick-cut red onions that Bush rubs in olive oil and dresses with his fried chicken's spice blend, grilling them until they take on a smoky goodness. The final touch, onion-wise, is channeled via a sturdy, lightly toasted onion bun, baked at Breadsmith. Add crunchy iceberg lettuce and a few generous dollops of housemade mayonnaise, and you've got yourself one terrific burger.
Price: $10.95 at lunch and late-night, $11.95 at dinner.
Fries: Included. They're cottage fries, and I can’t endorse the greasy, overtly garlicky and over-fried results.
On the side: The impressive baked beans are fortified with smoky brisket, sweetened with molasses and punched with garlic and vinegar. Even better is the potato salad. Here’s my theory on potato salad: the one you grew up eating is the one that becomes your lifelong standard. The BoneYard version bears a remarkable similarity to my mother’s, which means that I was tempted to order a second helping.
Ok, Mom’s preparation swerves off into a few slight deviations. Judy prefers peeled russets vs. skin-ons, and she’s prone to reaching for the Miracle Whip – yes, I was raised Lutheran – rather than the mayonnaise jar. Still, the uncomplicated BoneYard version is remarkable similar and equally delicious, just lots of firm, bite-sized potato chunks dressed in a mustard-blended mayonnaise and tossed with plenty of celery and hard-cooked egg.
Other sides include grits, mashed sweet potatoes, collard greens with bacon and other Southern comfort foods, all priced at $3.95 for a single serving and $6.95 for a shareable portion.
“I’m not trying to be the avant-garde, award-winning guy,” said Bush, who was born in Albany, Ga., and was raised in Punta Gorda, Fla. “I want to be the guy who cooks like you’re coming to Sunday supper at grandma’s house. I’m grateful for this opportunity to bring authentic Southern cooking to Minnesota. A lot of these recipes are my family’s recipes, and they’re older than me."
A question: Politely approaching this gigantic burger from a handheld perspective is a bit of a stretch, which makes me wonder why restaurants insist of serving such challenging-to-handle food items in cramped baskets. Could someone please hand me a plate?
Address book: 2841 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-455-6688. Open 11 a.m. through midnight Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday.
Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.