I’ve been slacking on reviewing because of the tight money situation everyone is in these days but knowing that the list is growing longer with every day, I really wanted to get out and try something new. With that, Kim and I took advantage of the B1G1 free coupon in this week’s Thisweek newspaper and headed over to Applewood Rustic Grille in Burnsville effectively saving money and getting a review out there for everyone.
We pulled into the full parking lot and approached the restaurant. The signage outside is not lit up at night but they have placed Christmas lights all around the borders of the windows inside so that you have to notice that there is something going on inside. I snapped a quick shot outside and we apprehensively approached the multiple sets of doors not knowing exactly which one we should go through. Kim eventually decided that we should use the set at the far right which lead you to a chalkboard menu and counter area. While I later determined that this must be some sort of takeout counter, it currently leaves you feeling a little confused about how to approach the place. Kim said it really reminded her of the setup at the now defunct Two Guys from Italy in Apple Valley.
We waited at the podium until one of the two servers came over to seat us. Our only indication that this was the way it should occur was that there was a nondescript podium there with a seating chart drawn on it. We didn’t have to wait long and we were seated near the video games that line the wall. I took a look over the restaurant and have to echo the comments of many of the readers here that the restaurant really doesn’t have any distinct identity yet and while I have been asking that restaurants just get their doors open and serving customers, I wonder if there isn’t a better way to approach that than what we saw at Applewood Rustic Grille tonight.
As we sat down, Kim mentioned that the restaurant felt cavernous and confused. I couldn’t agree more as the high ceilings and layout made me feel as if we were eating in a sea of tables. The music playing from the bar area carried over the seating area and made it difficult to have a decent conversation due to the echo. There are lots of tables and chairs mostly set for four people but there are tables pushed together to seat larger groups. Adjacent to the glass windows along the front and alongside one of the walls there are large sofas around tables which are low to the ground. Neither Kim nor I could figure out the purpose for these two seating areas as they didn’t seem like they were for waiting and they weren’t solely in the bar area to utilize for cocktails. The walls are adorned with a few large photographs of cityscape scenes in both London and Paris. We were quite certain that the photos of red buses and red taxis going through two European cities do not meet our idea of “rustic” but maybe we are just as confused as the theme of this restaurant.
While we all have knowledge that this restaurant has dreams to be a destination dining location, we knew that what we were eating tonight was part of their “soft opening”. I want to be clear that while we all know this because I am obsessive in my attempt to keep up on everything that’s going on in the South Metro, your average person walking in the door for dinner will not. They are going to believe that the restaurant will continue to serve the limited sandwiches, burgers, and pizza that we saw on the menu tonight. That said, I have plans to come back once the menu is official and set but I am going to state right here, before I even get into the specifics of the food, that I have absolutely no reason to return until that time.
Kim and I looked over the menu and honestly nothing really caught my eye as something that I could say, “fuck yeah, this is what I’m in the mood for tonight!” While it could be because we just had a nice home cooked Thanksgiving dinner the night before, I really think it’s because the menu wasn’t really all that interesting. As we already knew, the menu consists of a single page of your normal burgers, paninis, sandwiches and pizza that you could find at any number of other restaurants in town or across the country.
After a long while and after Kim’s prodding, I decided on The Minnesotan burger. It is described in the menu as applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, amablu cheese and dill proscuitto butter for $9.95. Unfortunately, when ordering — for whatever reason — I didn’t say The Minnesotan, I said The Texan. They are willing to cook it however you want and I decided to go with medium-rare tonight. The Texan is listed as applewood smoked bacon, fresh horseradish, aged cheddar, and apple-chiptole BBQ sauce for $9.95 and that’s what I ended up with tonight. Kim decided on Applewood Rustic Grille’s “3 Cheese” panini which is described as having mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan butter for $6.95. All of their sandwiches and burgers come with the choice of kettle chips or the option of regular or sweet potato fries for $1.50 more.
While we waited for our food to come out I listened as others around us, none of which were eating anything that we ordered, said that they enjoyed their food. One table seemed to have a pizza which at least one person said that they were enjoying. Our order was out quickly and I cut it in half so that Kim could try it and I could check out how well it was cooked. The burger was cooked quite well and I was pleased to see a good bit of pink in the middle. Nicely done. The bacon was large and plentiful and definitely not overdone. After I handed the burger to Kim she noticed the BBQ sauce and asked which burger I had ordered. Realizing the mistake I have already mentioned above, we searched for the fresh horseradish that was supposed to be on it, with me going so far as to lift the boring toasted bun and checking under the patty to see where it was hiding but alas, I found none. If it was there, I guess it wasn’t enough to even offer a hint of flavor. The burger tasted fine and while it was cooked well, I just can’t understand the reason for the $10 price. Bucky’s Homestyle Diner in Apple Valley was offering a very similar burger, although bigger and with more toppings, choice of side, and a better bun for $6.95. Applewood Rustic Grille’s didn’t even come with fries, just kettle chips and a small pepperoncini, how the fuck can a restaurant justify a $10 price tag for that? Seriously, I want to know.
Kim dug into her “3 Cheese” panini first and seemed pleased with it. In fact she said it was fine. When I ate my half of it, I found it to be boring. I could only taste one cheese, which I assume to be the provolone as mozzarella and parmesan have no real distinctive flavors that would contrast the provolone enough to be noticeable. There were some chives or green onions in the cheese as well and honestly, while it was priced ok, it wasn’t anything I’d recommend ordering unless you’re completely averse to meat and you’re really in the mood for a glorified grilled cheese.
If we hadn’t had the coupon we would have ended up paying about $21 for our meal which included two soft-drinks. After coupon we paid $14.85 or so and tipped the usual 15% as our service was acceptable enough but with only four tables (including ours) filled, I would have liked to have been doted on a bit more than I was.
As I said above, in its current state, Applewood Rustic Grille just isn’t good enough to warrant your time. Perhaps after they’ve been open for a bit and move to their real menu it might be worth it to go back and try again but I’m really concerned when a restaurant pumps out expensive burgers that are just all right. If they’re doing that with ground beef, what are they going to be doing with my $35 steak?
Have you been to Applewood Rustic Grille in Burnsville? If so, what did you think, I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Applewood Rustic Grille
1996 Highway 13 E
Burnsville, MN 55337
Mon – Sat: 11 AM – 1 AM
Sun: 11 AM – 11 PM