The burger: It's so great when food forges an instant bond between strangers. Particularly in otherwise standoffish, socially chilly Minnesota, the state where communal tables go to die. I recently stumbled into just this kind of phenomenon, over a triple-patty cheeseburger from Wyn 65.
“Wow, that thing is sick,” said the guy seated next to me. We were sharing a portion of the concrete pedestal at Canadian Pacific Plaza in downtown Minneapolis, which has become much-coveted noon-hour real estate ever since the adjoining stretch of 2nd Avenue evolved into downtown's No. 1 food truck zone. My new friend's friend’s voice was similarly admiring. “Oh my god, where did you get that?” she asked.
Over there, I said, pointing to a cleverly reconditioned 1978 sleeper camper., done up in groovy shades of oranges lifted from the shag carpeting at "The Brady Bunch" house. “Oh, the one with the line of people in front of it,” said New Friend No. 2. “Now I see why.”
When I asked them why my lunch was such an attention-grabber, they both immediately pointed to the overabundance of cheese. Talk about your more-is-more strategy: each triple-patty burger boasts two slices of cheese per patty, one placed above the meat, the other below. Add it up: yes, that’s six — 6! — slices of oozy, melted-up cheese on my triple-patty burger. The thin-ish patties (nurtured on a flattop grill to a just-above medium-rare) aren’t so much draped in cheese, they’re dipped in it. Is the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board a secret sponsor?
Wyn 65-ers Jason Sawicki and Travis Serbus are following most of the same formula that makes the burger at Lyn 65 -- that's the truck’s bricks-and-mortar mother ship in Richfield -- such a gotta-eat experience. They’re using the same fat-enriched, all-beef grind (cured short rib, blended with chuck and sirloin), the same snappy, palate-cleansing pickles, even the same does-the-trick American cheese.
The only real difference is the mayonnaise. “We use a Dijonnaise at the restaurant,” said Sawicki. “But at the truck we’re using our Alabama white sauce as our mayonnaise. We think it fits the style of the truck, doing a Southern-style sauce. It’s so simple, just a lot of vinegar and lemon juice and black pepper and cayenne.”
It’s terrific. The bun is a definitely a keeper as well. That it hails from Saint Agnes Bread Co. comes as no suprise. They’re split and generously buttered, and hit the hot stove until they’re softened, almost pillowy, and delicately toasted.
“Bread and butter, they’re just made for each other,” said Sawicki. “You spread the butter so that it fills up all those tiny air pockets on the bread. Then when when you fry it up, you get that crispy, buttery taste that we all love so much.”
We do, indeed. The “Diner” burger is sold in two sizes: a “single,” which, in Wyn-speak, is actually two 3-oz. patties; and a “double,” which adds up to three 3-oz. patties. And yes, Sawacki and Serbus have done the math, thank you very much.
“The reason we say ‘single’ even though it’s two patties is because we go by weight,” said Sawicki. “We think six ounces is a good size for a burger.”
No tomato, no lettuce, no bacon, no fried egg, no nonsense. Just essential cheeseburger underpinnings, on a grand scale. So simple, so delicious, so impressive and, yes, such a talker. My only hesitation: Who could possibly consume a triple-patty cheeseburger (and not immediately fall into a coma-like nap)? My solution: Ask for knife (and two forks, because this is one makes-a-mess lunch), make a new friend, and share.
Price: $9 for a “single,” and $12 for a “double.”
Don’t rush it: Don’t expect an instanteous turnound. Sawicki and Serbus start from scratch with every order. I heard my name being called at the 14-minute mark, which clocks in on the long side in Foodtrucklandia, but the outcome is well worth the wait. “The whole thing about making a really great cheeseburger is that you have to execute it really well, and that can be difficult, and it can take time," said Sawicki. "We try our best. But that’s our style, to execute as perfectly as we can.”
On the menu: As the city’s first food truck dedicated to fried chicken (it outsells the fabulous “Diner Burger," which speaks volumes), Wyn 65 has set an almost impossibly high bar for those who might follow in its excellence-minded tracks. Like the burger, the fried chicken is prepared to order and sold in one- and two-piece combinations, naked or paired with various side dishes ranging from pimento-laced mac-and cheese to collard greens. Prices fall in the $7-to-$13 range. Gather the office and splurge on a 6-piece bucket for $14, or a 12-piece bucket for $24. Also available: hot-hot chicken wings (three for $6), and an on-trend sandwich of stacked bologna and pimento cheese ($9).
A different vehicle: Wyn 65 stands out from the food truck crowd, literally, by virtue of its unusual silhouette. Although it’s not an honest-to-goodness Winnebago, it looks like a not-so-distant relation (which is where the Wyn 65 name comes in; Lyn 65, Wyn 65, get it?). Sawicki and Serbus discovered it — where else? — online.
“You never know what you’ll find on Craigslist,” said Sawicki with a laugh. Years ago, the vehicle had been semi-converted from camper to food-service facility (it was used to feed migrant farm workers in California), and the Lyn 65 crew spent an on-again, off-again six months in rehab mode before hitting the road in May.
So far, so good. Great, even. “I’m having a blast, it’s pretty fun,” said Sawicki. “The other guys are running the restaurant right now, but we’re out living this gypsy lifestyle.”
Address book: Sawicki said that he and Serbus try and get to downtown Minneapolis at least four afternoons per week, Tuesday through Friday (I usually spy them at the new food truck epicenter on 2nd Av. between 5th and 6th streets). Evening and weekend events are a bit more scattered; track the truck’s whereabouts on Twitter.
Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.