Friday, January 7, 2011

Bagger Dave's Bowl Game Burgers

Okay, let's just get the humiliating truth out of the way at the very beginning: the state of Michigan got its butt whupped on Saturday in football.

There's no way to argue that there were good battles but that better teams won fair match-ups ... pffft. Both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University lost their bowl games by unbelievable margins:

Gator Bowl: Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14
(Just one of many reasons Michigan's head coach, Rich Rodriguez, lost his job this week)

Capital One Bowl: Alabama 49, Michigan State 7

Oy ....

So, it's a good thing Tom and I had some excellent food to compensate for the football, huh???

We don't have cable, so we had rather a dilemma trying to figure out where we were going to watch our football. We'd watched other Michigan games this season at Famous Hamburger and at Cottage Inn, which specializes in pizza, pizza and more pizza. Both have large t.v. screens. And neither has had many other customers besides us during the games: most people either watch at home or in bars, or they're one of the 110,000 that UM's football stadium -- The Big House -- can hold, so we've had exceptionally congenial service.

But Tom had the flu last week, so pizza was much too rich to consider as an option while his system was still recovering. And our other regular hangout was going to be closed for New Year's Day.

So, we figured Applebee's would be open and have multiple televisions; but would we have good access for watching or would it be too loud??? Well, it was a viable option at least, so we aimed in that direction. And then on the way to Applebee's, Tom remembered a burger place nearby that he'd heard good things about.

We drove by ... it was open.

We drove by more closely ... there was a t.v.

Serendipity had brought us to Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern.

We seated ourselves with a perfect view of the UM game, and then proceeded to peruse the not-exhausting-but-still-daunting-nonethless menu.

Our server, Alan, was warm and friendly and utterly charming. I apologized for his having to make multiple trips to our table, explaining that my brain goes into paralysis when presented with too many excellent menu options. He replied that he also has the same problem (he even told us a story about it, so I knew he wasn't just humoring me!) and was completely sympathetic. Whew! 'Cause there were a lot of fabulous choices all calling to me, and calling loudly. This was going to take some time.

Salad, to start the new year with some semblance of health? Nah, that's not football food! Burger!!! It's a burger joint, and an honored one at that:

“Burger Battle Winner 2010” ... described as “Remarkably succulent” by the Ann Arbor Observer, and also named “Best Burger” by the Ann Arbor Family Press

Okay, then, did I want one with lots of stuff like chili or peppers or cheese? There was a Tuscan turkey burger with mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette and basil; a Cajun-spiced burger with my beloved blue cheese; and even a gargantuan burger called a Train Wreck featuring two patties, fries, an egg, cheddar, onions, mushrooms and a special sauce ... now, where was Jeremy when he was needed to polish that baby off???

Hmmm ... perhaps simplicity, to really let the burger shine. So I used my do-it-yourself worksheet to "Create (My) Own Legend."

I selected beef (vs. turkey or vegetarian), lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup and mayonnaise on a honey wheat bun. Tom had virtually the same thing, with the exception of the mayonnaise and having chosen a sesame seed bun.

But once that decision had been made, would we get fresh-cut fries? Sweet potato fries? Freshly made Saratoga potato chips with sea salt??? Oh, that last one could not be resisted! One easy choice in the mix, thank goodness.

Alan came back and reviewed our selections with us, to make sure that there would be no mistakes. And yet, when our order appeared there seemed to be something wrong ... we each had two burger patties rather than the one we'd expected.

So we checked with Alan to make sure nothing was wrong and that the orders hadn't gotten mixed up; nope, there was nothing wrong -- the burgers all come with double patties. He apologized for the confusion and we assured him that there was no problem whatsoever; rather than feeling jilted for paltry portions, there was actually extra food -- very generous portions -- that we hadn't anticipated ... whee!!!

Alan then watched me do my "food blogger" routine -- I took the requisite photos. (And I apologize for the blurriness -- I was hungry, distracted by the miniature electric train whirring around the room, watching the game, schmoozing, etc.) He asked if I always take pictures of what I eat, and I answered that I write a food blog; he asked if I take pictures of what I cook, too, and I explained that I take pictures of everything I eat and make, even though I know it makes me seem odd. We all have our little quirks!

And so, we dug in ... and oh, the burgers were so, so good!!! Juicy, flavorful, dripping down my hand -- everything you want in a burger. Thank goodness we had extra napkins! Very little conversation took place, as Tom and I just ate happily, looked up to check on the game, smiled at each other, and ate some more.

The potato chips -- though that seems such an insufficient word for these treats! -- were a deep golden brown, crisp, very lightly salted, and absolute perfection as an accompaniment. I love sweet potato fries and may very well try them on a repeat visit to Bagger Dave's (yes, there will be many!); but truly, I can't imagine them being better suited to these burgers than what we ordered.

Then we were pleasantly surprised when the manager stopped by our table to apologize for the confusion over the burger patties. We assured him, too, that there was no problem whatsoever; it was our delirious oblivion as we perused the tantalizing menu that had caused the puzzlement over the quantity of food, nothing more. We had a lovely chat, which ended with him telling us that Alan is a very talented magician. Needless to say, Alan was then called over to show us his coin trick.

Truly dexterous and graceful, Alan wound a coin the size of a 50-cent piece through and around his fingers, placed it into his palm and then made it disappear, retrieved it, and just kept doing this fluidly as he talked about having begun serious training and practice when he was 14. He is very gifted, and it was absolutely delightful to spend a few minutes chatting with him as he blithely continued his illusions ... :)

Tom and I had a fabulous time at Bagger Dave's -- excellent (and generous!) food, charming hosts, whimsical entertainment, and even Tootsie Rolls to end our meal. And I'm thrilled to say that this is a Michigan-based franchise that proudly supports our state's food products (craft beers and cheeses, among them), sponsors local youth sports, and supports our area's non-profits with fundraisers.

And what was that we spied on the shelf across the room, with bright yellow labels displayed proudly??? Could it be ... our favorite peanut butter, the beautiful Michigan product Koeze's, for making the grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches??? Ah -- kindred spirits! We may not have watched the disastrous Gator Bowl at our house, but clearly Tom and I felt right at home ....

Bagger Dave's on Urbanspoon


Annie (Lady M) x said...

I am doing this ‘Follow Friday 40′ that I saw over at Truly Simply Pink and I am now following you! This is such a cool idea isn’t it?! Love your blog by the way - that burger looked to die for! You've made me hungry.

Jenn said...

If it helps, Nebraska got their butts handed to them in the holiday bowl by a team that they slaughtered at the first of the season... UGH.. it was quite embarrassing!! :)
But, at least you had a fine burger to make up for it! There truly is nothing better :) mmmmm.. burgers!!!!

Cranberry Morning said...

I'm sorry, Mary, but when I got to the paragraph about the menu and the brain going into paralysis with too many decisions, it immediately conjured up the image of Lucy in the restaurant (remember that episode??) ANYWAY, how clever of you to drive around looking for a TV as well as a good place to eat. :-) Do you think there's anywhere that has a huge flat screen TV tuned to A&E mysteries? I'd eat there for sure! let me know.

P.S. Sounds like you got your money's worth at Bagger Daves!

Ms Bibi said...

I am not much for burgers, but that sounds like awesome burger.

Yes,good food must come hand in hand with sporting events....just in case.

Karen Harris said...

I love a good burger and this sounds like it is right up there with the best.

Our old neighbor now plays for the Lions so we've been really pulling for you guys (for all the good it's done).

Miriam said...

That is SO my kind of hang out :). Have a great weekend!! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Candace said...

I sure wish we had one of those in this part of the country. Those potato chips sound yummy! We don't have cable either so we have to find some place to watch the games too. Another great reason why Bagger Dave's should be here! Have a great weeken!

Mhel said...

Hi Mary, its kinda late to greet you, but better late than never, Happy New Year! Its been a while. Ive been busy doing random things, going back to my old hobbies and doing errands. I miss your funny stories and your food review - the burger, its killing me. Its 6am here, still not having a proper breakfast haha... My tummy is grumbling while reading how good that burger was, plus the fries hahaha...

Bringing Pretty Back said...

The whole burger post was great!!!
UGH! I know! I live in Michigan...
Have a pretty day!

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