Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Blue Door Pub

Sometimes I suppose it is impossible for a restaurant to live up to its hype. In fact, this is probably true more often than not. It's not the restaurants' fault, of course. We invest these longed-for experiences with a kind of mystical importance. We are sure that the one burger/steak/curry/salad/burrito/dessert we haven't had yet will be The One, the one that will at last make sense out of our troubled and confused existence. What can one poor beer-and-burger joint do in the face of expectations like that? In a word, nothing. It's our fault for being such eager and melodramatic dorks to begin with.

So really, the only trouble with The Blue Door, tucked away just off the corner of Selby and Fairview, is that it took us four tries to get in. This repeated failure was due to two things. First, The Blue Door is wildly popular. Smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood, it is one of the few quality places within walking distance. Second, it is roughly the size of a walk-in closet. The combination of these two circumstances makes it a sure bet that, whenever you go, you're going to have a wait. And there isn't really much of a waiting area. You're going to be tucked into an even smaller closet in the back, or, unless you're brave enough to stake out your spot in the middle of the floor and stand there (I am not), you're going to wait outside. We arrived a little after 8:00 and waited no more than ten minutes. The staff was great. A series of friendly people made sure that nine and a half of those ten minutes were spent with cold beers in our hands. When we left, at 10:00, there were still people lined up out the door. Very popular, very tiny place.

So this time, our fourth time, by God, we were going to wait it out. And I knew, I mean KNEW, that the clouds would part, the angels would weep, and I would have the sort of burger that I would be telling my grandchildren about. Or someone's grandchildren. That part's a little murky. But it was going to be, in the words of Boromir of Gondor, a Gift. A gift for my weary soul. I had three beers and a good burger. My soul, alas, is unimproved. But as I said at the outset, I have no one to blame but myself.

The Blue Door serves up a dizzying number of variations on the theme of the Juicy Lucy, the Twin Cities' principal claim to culinary immortality. I went with what The Blue Door considers their flagship burger, the Blucy (we may or may not return to the topic of my general distaste for menu puns). This little beauty is stuffed with bleu cheese and chopped garlic. Bleu cheese? I'm not sure about using "bleu" if you're already speaking English. "Fromage?" Then sure, knock yourself out. But we've already settled on "cheese," so I think you can go with "blue," and everyone will be okay. But back to the topic. The burger was very good. Flavorful and, true to its moniker, juicy. I would have been happier with a slightly larger stuff-to-burger ratio, but this is quibbling. The only burger complaint I will register is that the poor thing was overcooked. Not killed, just on the well-done side. Even this would not have been an issue, except that we were warned that they would be medium, and asked if this was okay. Classic setup for disaster. Don't say a word, and we don't have an issue. If you tell me medium, then I expect medium. This is reasonable. Baby had a basic cheeseburger. She did get medium, and it was also very very good.

We had three different sides between us. The fries were hand-cut and first rate. The battered and fried green beans were also excellent. Not so heavily battered that they were over-greasy. Not health food, mind you, but not immediately fatal. The third option was the buffalo tater tots, and these were less of a hit. Fine flavor, and real blue cheese dressing, and God bless them for offering tater tots in the first place, but tater tots are a not a particularly rugged food. If you sauce them, even if the sauce is very good, you get a soggy tater tot. Not really a texture I'd come back for.

The beer selection is very good. The wine list is quirky and interesting, and more fairly priced than any I've seen in the cities. The staff, as mentioned earlier, was on top of things. You can tell they're used to a busy place. The food is also reasonably priced. We drank rather a lot, and still got out for around $50. Subtract five pints of beer, and you're looking at a sub-thirty-dollar dinner. Not bad at all.

The Blue Door is a very nice bar, with an interesting menu of very nice bar food. Will it change your life? Of course not. Will it make you give up The Nook? Probably not, unless you live in the neighborhood and don't mind the wait. Was it worth four attempts? I'd say so. It's always good to have the experience. But when we go back we'll pick a day when we can get there for lunch, and stay for dinner. Everything will taste better with someone standing there waiting for me to leave.