Based on reader reports of Burger Time in Apple Valley having its grand opening on Friday April 22nd, The Wife and I made plans to head over there and sample several burgers off the menu with both The Rooster and Josh. With an Urbanspoon review of their White Bear Lake location claiming, “Fake smoke flavor on the burgers and frozen fries. Portion size and price are good, too bad it is barely edible,” and then suggesting you should get there soon because it was clear it was going to close in short order, I went in a bit apprehensive after hearing that the White Bear Lake location did indeed close only a few days later.
We arrived just after 11 AM on Friday. Aside from one other family seated, we were the only people in the place for lunch so far. We took a look over the very simple menu (which differs slightly from the one available on their website), which The Wife remarked as being just as spartan as Raising Cane’s across the street, and placed our orders for a Famous Bigger Burger combo (with fries), a Bigger Cheeseburger combo (with onion rings), a Mushroom Swiss Burger, a Bacon Cheeseburger, and a Hawaiian BBQ Burger combo (with fries). The combos come with fries in a small beverage cup (or a bag for the onion rings) and a 32oz drink and are quite competitively priced for 1/3lb burgers. Our total (for four burger combos of a variety of types) came to just under $25.
The space is simple. Seating for 25 with several of the tables placed directly in the way of the ordering line, cheap feeling aluminum chairs (which one person I spoke with claimed were too short for the tables something I didn’t notice), and a counter with several stools lining the windows facing Chipotle and White Castle. There is a tiny window behind the counter where the food is brought from the kitchen to the front. Because of this, and it’s unfortunate, you cannot see how they make or assemble the burgers. Aside from the Coke machine and the kitsch on the wall, there isn’t much to see in this tiny space which used to house a TCBY, a Starbucks, and a Homemade Pizza Company before it.
Our orders were called, far faster than what you’d expect from a place that supposedly makes burgers to order such as Culver’s, and regardless of your dining option (takeout or dine in) are served in thin paper bags with the burgers on the bottom and the sides on the top. The onion rings and the fries are fine. Nothing spectacular here but certainly better than what you’re likely to find at many other fast food restaurants in town. While I am not much for onion rings or fries myself, I placed the fries closer to McDonald’s and way better than Burger King or Culver’s (not that it is hard to beat those two) and the onion rings as the best you can get in fast food as they were neither greasy nor overdone and had an appropriate amount of breading to get the job done.
I started with my Famous Bigger Burger and took a close look. When I ordered they asked if I wanted everything on it and I did. It came with lettuce, tomato, mayo, red onions, pickles and ketchup. The patty was large and filled out the entire bun but the meat was thin and cooked medium-well. The vegetables were fresh enough for fast food and tasted fine. When put all together my sandwich tasted just like a Whopper from Burger King. Thankfully Apple Valley has no Burger King nearby and thus if you’re in the mood for a Whopper, you’ll have to visit Burger Time to get it. Aside from that, I saw nothing special enough about the Burger Time burger to suggest you forgo your plans to visit Junior’s Cafe and Grill or King’s Place or agree with their bold statement that it’s “famous”. My wife, however, thoroughly enjoyed her burger and said it was definitely better than the burgers you can get at any other fast food restaurant. Both her and Josh noted that it reminded them of Culver’s burgers only better and bigger.
While the burger, cheeseburger, and bacon cheeseburgers came with the works, the Hawaiian BBQ and Mushroom and Swiss burgers came with nothing except what their names stated aside from some strips of bacon and a slice of cheese which were unexpected on the Hawaiian BBQ burger. The Hawaii BBQ burger’s BBQ sauce was very smoky and tasted good in contrast to the sweet (and clearly canned) pineapple rings. Overall I thought it was an interesting burger and one I’d order again if I were in the mood for that sort of thing. The Mushroom Swiss Burger came with a healthy dose of sauteed mushrooms and what appeared to be less cheese than we experienced on the rest of the burgers. Josh doesn’t like vegetables on his burgers and The Wife used them on the Mushroom and Swiss burger and said while the burger was fine she was definitely glad she had the additional toppings to round out the sandwich.
Of particular note were the 32oz soft drinks (the only size we saw available at the counter). While their website notes that their combos only come in one size, “BIG!” we just didn’t understand the draw. Of the three soft drinks purchased none of us finished even half of the cup and left the rest to go down the drain. I’m not quite sure why they didn’t offer any other sizes but I’m definitely guessing that in 2011 it’s time to go back to smaller cups being available. No one needs that much corn syrup along with their 1/3+lb burgers and honestly, it’s just a waste of money for everyone.
While I believe that Burger Time could survive in another location in Apple Valley, I am not convinced that they will be able to hold their own in a place which has housed so many other restaurants unsuccessfully. Fast food places really do need a drive-through and with stiff competition from White Castle and McDonald’s across the street as well as a pretty awful traffic pattern in that parking lot, I just don’t see Burger Time making it. In addition, I am particularly concerned by the recent closure of the White Bear Lake location and sudden opening of the Apple Valley one days later. I wouldn’t be surprised if they took the remaining assets from the WBL location and brought them to Apple Valley to sell what they had and recoup some of their losses on rent (since September) knowing they are likely to get the opening rush + Groupon customers’ dollars and then closing up shop for good in a few weeks.
Overall I thought the burgers were fine for the price and size and my wife said she’d much rather eat them than any of the other fast food joints in town. However, there are just too many unknowns with Burger Time for me to say that I believe they’ll survive but in the mean time get out there and see what you think and let us know below.
7594 150th St W
Apple Valley MN 55124
See all the pictures from Burger Time in Apple Valley on Flickr here.