The burger: The New Grandview Grill isn’t so new. It has been a fixture at Grand and Fairview (Grand-Fairview, get it?) in St. Paul's Mac-Groveland neighborhood for as long as I can remember (its earliest reference in the Strib’s archives dates to 1995), serving its daytime, eggs-a-zillion-ways menu to a devoted clientele.
That format changed earlier this year, when owner John McCarty extended the restaurant’s hours to include dinner. Hurrah. Now moviegoers at the nearby Grandview 1 & 2 have a pre- and post-movie option beyond a Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt at the adjacent Subway franchise.
To lure customers unaccustomed to dining at the Grandview after dark, McCarty has instituted a whopper of a deal: A burger, fries and a shake, for $9.95. That’s approaching fast-food territory. And it’s so much better.
What arrives is a nothing-fancy burger (the formal name is, appropriately, the “Plain Jane Burger”), and there’s nothing off-kilter about that. The hand-formed patty has a quarter-pounder's heft, and stretches to the edges of the bun. It’s lightly (perhaps too gingerly?) seasoned, and taken to medium-well on the flattop grill, a more-char/less-juice equation. The bun, (just barely) toasted, fulfills all basic bun requirements.
Garnishes are what you'd expect. There's a tomato slice (flavorless and juice-free, like the vast majority of off-season tomatoes, but for $9.95 you weren’t expecting a cosseted heirloom variety, right?), a crisp lettuce leaf and a plucked-from-the-jar dill pickle spear. Cheese? Good-old American, naturally.
There’s a bonus round, in the form of a shake. It’s creamy and thick-ish (not so dense that it can't be consumed with a straw), and crowned with a swirl of whipped cream (OK, a canned, whipped cream-esque invention that probably started with something resembling a dairy product). The chocolate in my chocolate shake didn't possess what anyone would call a powerhouse flavor, but it did the trick (I mentioned $9.95, right?).
File this one under “W,” for What You See is What You Get. There are no surprises (other than that boffo price), no bells and whistles, just plainspoken, take-a-seat-at-the-counter burger honesty. I’ll take it. And I’ll be back, before the movie.
Price: The aforementioned $9.95. That's a Black Friday-level value, but it's available year-round, but not at lunch. Order between 3 and 9 p.m., daily.
Fries: Included, and not a peak experience. They’re waffle cuts, and they’re piping hot, nicely crispy, generously salted and heaped high onto the plate. The downside? An unnecessary batter coating – really, spuds are fine on their own – and they were infused with an unwelcome flavor, a lingering aftertaste emanating from what I assumed was the deep fryer. Time to change the oil.
Across the river: The Grandview’s sibling restaurant, the New Uptown Diner in Minneapolis, offers a similar deal, with one slight improvement: it’s served to 11 p.m.
Meanwhile, another member of the McCarty collection of diners, the New 50th Street Cafe (longtime diners will recall the space as Pearson’s Edina Restaurant), is no more. The doors closed Oct. 31.
Address book: 1818 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-698-2346. Open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.