The burger: There’s a reason why Byte owners Mark Lowman and Travis Shaw have a patty melt on the menu at their Warehouse District counter-service newbie, and it can be boiled down to a single word: expediency.
Rather than deal with procuring a proper bun for a burger, they’re maximizing what’s already on hand, namely a Pullman-style loaf of white bread.
Efficiency is also the reason behind the double-patty format. “Faster cooking times,” said Lowman.
Those two patties – juicy, firmly packed Angus, taken to a uniform medium – add up to a hefty dose of beef.
It’s even juicier thanks to the cheese. Instead of slices, Lowman and Shaw liberally bathe each patty in a Bechamel sauce that's enriched with Cheddar (“And we throw in a little bit of nacho cheese,” said Lowman), followed by a layer of thick-cut onions that have been slowly caramelized to tender sweetness. It’s a classic combination: Puritanically simple, tasty and so quick on the assembly side of the equation that this is one sandwich that practically sprints out of the kitchen.
The menu labels the grilled bread as “Texas Toast,” but that’s a bit misleading; it’s not sliced nearly thick enough to own that proud label. However, it’s got the whole butter-the-heck-out-of-it thing going on, a quality that pretty much embodies all that is attractive about the Lone Star State’s namesake bread product.
Here’s another plus: the patty melt is available to midnight, Monday through Saturday, along with the rest of the globally inspired menu, which ranges from Korean- and Indian-themed rice bowls to chicken burritos. I’m guessing that the top-selling item is a pile of crisped-up Tater Tots buried under bacon, jalapenos, caramelized onions and queso. The universal appeal of Tater Tots strikes again.
Price: $9.50, which is the ceiling for this value-focused menu.
Fries: Included. They’re hand-cut, skin-on and fried to a deep golden hue. Nicely done, but for one major quibble: the generous pile that I was served was rapidly approaching "stone cold" status. Three cheers for the bacon-infused house-made ketchup. Not into fries? The kitchen will substitute a lively salad of fresh romaine that’s tossed with quinoa, tomato, cucumbers and a bright, just-right lemon vinaigrette.
Bonus round: The back bar – a self-proclaimed “geek” bar -- pulls a long-ish list of locally produced craft beers. An alley patio is awaiting cooperating weather conditions. Oh, and dessert? Lowman and Shaw wisely partner with baker John Kraus of Rose Street Patisserie and Patisserie 46, offering the bakeries’ butter-laden, brown sugar-packed chocolate chunk cookies. Best in town? A contender, certainly.
Address book: 319 1st Av. N., Mpls., 612-354-2533. Open 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (kitchen to midnight) Monday through Saturday.
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