Last week I went to Burger Jones for a family dinner while my little bro was on military leave. I'll start out by saying that I went to Burger Jones with pretty low expectations, seeing as it is part of the Parasole restaurant family. Now I have nothing against the Parasole restaurants per se, I just find that in general they are way too hyped up and I'm generally left with mediocre food in a jazzy and slightly annoying atmosphere. As a side note, how Il Gatto got decent reviews in some of the local food publications is BEYOND me. But I worked for a Parasole restaurant (Good Earth) and they usually have something decent on the menu, so I still go if required but make it a point to stick to the french fries (!) and beers.
First, I didn't like the restaurant atmosphere. The space seemed crammed somehow -- we were jammed right up against our neighboring tables. The decor seemed cheap in an obvious kind of way. It was like they were trying to be a hole-in-the-wall diner but they tried too hard in a kitschy way and it was just an epic fail. Plus the servers wore these outrageous (but admittedly funny) shirts that featured a whole host of double entendres, probably meant for the adults in the restaurant and not the children. Overall, the restaurant itself didn't set itself up for success.
Second, I didn't care for the service. Our server was fine...nice and relatively timely...but the dude who brought us our food was three seconds away from being smacked across the face with my inedible veggie burger. It was ironic because I had just read an article in the New York Times about restaurateurs who refuse to do substitutes on their menus. You either get it their way or no way. I respect that 100% -- food is art and chefs create it to taste a certain way. You take out the cheese or add ketchup and it's no longer something they are proud to call their own. But let's be clear. Those are NYC restaurants with a little more leeway to do things like that. We were at BURGER JONES. My mom ordered a burger called "The Hangover" that had a fried egg on top. (My pre-veggie self is swooning right now.) The menu said that "The Hangover" came topped with hot sauce, and my mom asked if they could leave that off the burger. No problem! Happy to accommodate! Then some guy comes to our table with our food and says, "Here's a burger with a fried egg on top. It's not 'The Hangover' because that has hot sauce and you asked for it without hot sauce." Ha. It's one thing to not allow substitutions and the like, its even another thing to silently judge the restaurant patrons for doing something you think is crazy. But to say something snotty like that to someone who is paying for the food? Bitch, please. I may be overreacting and nobody at my table batted an eye. But I was upset. And trust me, it's not the lack of hot sauce that made their food less than desirable. Focus on that, Mr. Hot Sauce. (To be clear, my mom should have ordered it with hot sauce because hot sauce is delightful. But I'm allowed to say that to her face...Burger Jones dude is not.)
Okay, rant semi-complete! So, I'm at a Parasole Restaurant (-1) and I order a veggie burger (-2) -- I'm operating with the lowest possible expectations here, and I'm still disappointed. The burger was pretty tasteless, the addition of sprouts on top instead of lettuce was a huge mistake (wilted, stringy sprouts are not tasty in the least), and something was up with their cheese selection. Before you say, "well suits you right for ordering a veggie burger," I will say that I have had some amazing veggie burgers at restaurants before, and my dad was similarly underwhelmed by his California cheeseburger. It was nothing special, not worth the drive or the money, and their food is pretty cheap. He decided to stick to the good burger joints -- 5-8 club, Frenchmans, and Shantytown. All lovely places around Richfield.
I will say that I enjoyed the fries. Crispy and salty. And I had some leftover chipotle aioli from our onion rings to use as a dipping sauce. Not too shabby!
Overall, I thought it was a bad sign that I came into a place expecting something not so good and left feeling disappointed. I'm not willing to completely write them off though. Their beer cheese soup made with Surly Furious looks pretty good, and ........ well I was about to say that their breakfast might be worth it but I checked out the menu and no thank you. I also learned that another one of these is opening in Burnsville this year. It disturbs me that enough people go here that another restaurant is required to satiate the public's needs. C'mon people -- there are tons of amazing burger joints here in the Cities! Try those places out. THEN see if you ever want to go back to Burger Jones.