My friend and podcast co-host Mike and I have embarked on a Burger Tour of the Twin Cities in a quest to find the best burger in the area. Expect reviews and rankings during our journey. Our latest visit is detailed below.
To describe the scene at Monte Carlo, I’ll need you to envision a house party. You don’t know many people at this party — they’re friends of friends, people you’ve seen around, neighbors, what have you — but you’re expecting to have a decent night. On the surface, the partygoers are similar to you. Plus, it’s a house party we’re talking about here; you know the drill.
Only…this one just never feels right. The party possesses some undefinable quality that feels weirdly off. Conversations aren’t flowing the way they normally do, the nucleus is constantly roaming, laughs don’t come at the time you expect them, it’s just not working. After an hour or so you find yourself ready to leave. You get the feeling that everyone else is on a different drug than you.
That was the scene for Mike and me this past Friday at Monte Carlo. At first blush: enjoyable scene. The spot attracted an eclectic mix of young and old, the long bar area was full of people having lively conversations, all was well…but after a few minutes we were annoyed by patrons one and all. One guy was being an arrogant dick to the bartender, others were standing in front of the TV and not moving, people were constantly swapping conversation partners, there were boisterous laughs after one-liners that weren’t remotely funny…just a weird scene. They were popping pills while we were drinking beer.
For those who prefer a less analogy-ridden review: there is only one TV, the beer list is short and unimpressive, and the vague lounge-lizard vibe ain’t enough to make up for the random clientele. Props for not being boring, I guess.
Monte Carlo’s burger is standard in every way: average size, small bun (though a bit too flimsy and thus prone to sogginess) and no interesting toppings or quirks to be had.
Which would be fine, if not for one monumental problem: it was flavorless. The first remark both Mike and I made, almost simultaneously, is that all we tasted was the cheese. If a sliver of swiss is overpowering your burger, that’s a problem. The burger wasn’t bad per se, just lacking in flavor.
(Closed-circuit to Monte Carlo: it’s OK to salt beef. We’ve seen it done.)
Despite the boring burger, we’d be remiss to neglect mention of the real star of the evening: the fries, which rocketed to the top of our list of favorite side dishes.
Most fries, you’re getting a combination thick & soft or thin & crispy. It’s a straight-up “pick your poison” proposition. Not so with Monte Carlo. They presented the best of both worlds with fries that were pinky-sized in thickness yet perfectly, perfectly crisp. Add the bonuses of minimal grease and maximum flavor and you’ve got yourself a rare delight in the world of fries.
They were almost enough to atone for the weirdos and underwhelming burger. That’s no small feat.
Venue: C // Burger: B-
1b. Five Guys
3. Buster’s on 28th
4. Monte Carlo