On Friday The Wife, The Rooster, and I went out to Burnsville’s newest restaurant, Junior’s Sports Cafe. The sister restaurant of Eagan’s most famous burger and breakfast joint, Junior’s Cafe & Grill, this restaurant replaces Applewood Rustic Grille which closed up shop in October of 2009.
Junior’s Sports Cafe addresses many of the problems which plagued Applewood Rustic Grille including making effective use the large space, providing a clear identity, and clearing up the confusion experienced at the front door. Junior’s Sports Cafe is decorated with hanging lights, which one commenter complained are too low and something I completely agree with, checkerboard patterned tablecloths under glass, and several LCD TVs and a big screen. There are a couple of bar-type video games (Big Buck Hunter and Golden Tee), a couple of beers on tap but nothing which made me drool, and plenty of photographs on the wall including a picture of the Twin Towers and right below it a three photo series of it smoking on 9/11.
The menu is almost identical to their Eagan location and includes diner food, burgers, shakes, etc but to fit the sports bar theme they have added pizzas, appetizers such as wings, and steaks. Based on Chad’s comment here about enjoying their dry rubbed wings I asked to split an order of six wings (which were $6.99) with Buffalo and the dry rub version. The Wife picked up her usual Junior’s favorite: an All-American Burger with cheese and I ordered a Hot Roast Beef sandwich with the vegetable of the day, green beans.
As with any new restaurant this one seemed to have problems getting food out of the kitchen quickly and correctly. While I am easy to forgive a place which has only been open a few days being that they have been providing quality meals out of their Eagan location for years and had on hand the Junior’s owners and family I felt the need to hold them to a bit higher of a standard than a completely new restaurant.
The wings were clearly an appetizer yet were delivered a few minutes after our entrees without explanation. The wings were actually full wings, not split, so $6.99 for “six” is actually $6.99 for twelve. The Buffalo sauce was haphazardly applied, the dry rub was not applied and after asking the waitress about it I received a cup of seasoned salt and black pepper–something which is completely foreign to me as a “dry rub” for wings. The wings were delivered with ranch dressing but no option was provided for my preference of bleu cheese. The Buffalo wings were fine but the “dry rub” wings tasted like roasted chicken–not a fan.
My Hot Roast Beef was originally delivered with a white gravy, usually reserved for open faced turkey sandwiches all over the meat and the potatoes. I asked the waitress if that’s how it was normally served, knowing full well it wasn’t, and she answered that it indeed was how it is served normally. I shrugged and dug in for one bite before she was back at the table correcting her mistake and asking if I’d like them to make me another. She said it would be right back out and it was and then appeared as you see at the top of this post. The meat was plentiful and the gravy had nice flavor. The potatoes were a bit disappointing but with all the gravy on them I was unable to tell if they were “real” or not. The green beans were absolutely terrible and reminded me of the over-steamed canned versions I had a few times as a child.
My wife’s All-American burger was fine, aside from the clearly burned bun which should never have made it out of the kitchen along with the unseasoned wings and the white gravy covered roast beef. It came out medium-well even though she was never asked how she wanted it done but had good flavor as their Eagan location’s burgers do. She was pleased.
Overall we had a good time at Junior’s Sports Cafe in Burnsville and enjoyed the interaction from the multiple members of the family who were on hand. At one point, while I was taking photos, I was asked if I was a critic (I laughed and replied I was not but I had a website) and they asked me to write something nice. Well here’s my final assessment: hopefully the minor issues associated with a new opening will be ironed out and someone will take some more time to ensure the food delivered to the tables is done correctly. All of the ingredients for a successful restaurant, like their Eagan location, and the opportunity to grow into an excellent sports bar are there so hopefully they will make it in a location which has seen so many previous failures.
Have you been to Junior’s Sports Cafe in Burnsville? If so what did you think? What did you have? Have you been to their Eagan location? Which will you patronize now? Whatever you have to say about Burnsville’s new sports bar go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Junior’s Sports Cafe
1996 Highway 13 E
Burnsville, MN 55337
See all the pictures from Junior’s Sports Cafe on Flickr here.