Krueger’s Tavern – Burger Club 1

by Bryan on August 3, 2015

Our first stop on the pFoody Burger Club expedition was Krueger’s Tavern in OTR. This restaurant is the latest in the group that includes Bakersfield and The Eagle. They are located in the old Lavomatic space, and it has been interesting to see how they have evolved.

The name of the place is an homage to Krueger’s Brewing in New Jersey that in 1935 became the first to sell beer in cans. They have quite the selection of canned beers, but offer only 2 on tap. Coors and a rotating selection. When they opened, they had only one burger, The Krueger, and imported beef from Pat LaFrieda’s in New Jersey.

Since opening, they expanded their line of burgers to 5 (6 if you count the Veggie… I don’t). The burger is now ground in-house. They realized they already had the meat grinding gear for their sausages, so they decided to start grinding their own. I’ve had both, and don’t see a big difference. Ground in-house makes a big difference. So what was the Club’s impressions of the place? Read on to find out.

Kruegger's Burger Profile

Patty StyleHouse ground beef. Thin Patty. 3 ounces each.
BunChallah (16 Bricks)
ToppingsVarious cheeses, onion, onion jam, homemade pickles, bacon, bacon mayo, mixed greens, BBQ pork, various slaws.
PresentationMost are stacked 2-patties served on a cutting board with a dill spear.
SidesFries, with malt vinegar aioli. Various appetizers.

 What we tried

We had 6 attendees at the first burger club. Krueger’s offers up 5 different burgers ($9 each), and one Veggie burger ($8).  Three opted for the Krueger’s, two for the spicy, and one for the Bleu Gruyere. I have also had the bacon in the past, very good, but I have not tried the BBQ which sacrifices one patty in favor of some BBQ (more on that later).

Krueger’s

Two house ground patties, shredded lettuce, onion, American cheese, special sauce, homemade pickles, challah bun.

KruegerKrueger

This is the original burger. It was introduced to me as “grown-up Big Mac”, and that pretty much nails it. Wasn’t the best way to present it to me (not a Big Mac fan) but very descriptive. It is two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce pickles, onions on a challah bun.

We had three club members order this. Russell, Tammy, and Anna.

Russell: Enjoyed the burger a lot – his only quibble is that they were a little lettuce heavy.

Anna: Anna also liked it a lot, but that it was not only lettuce, but bun heavy.

Bleu Gruyere

Two house ground patties, Bleu Cheese, Gruyere, onion jam, mixed greens, dijonaise, challah bun.

KruegerBleuGruyere
Bryan: I am a sucker for onion jam, and love the combination of Bleu and Gruyere cheese. Honestly, Bleu cheese is a relatively new thing for me. I have never cared for it, but another burger (that we will definitely visit) turned the corner for me on this. I love the size of their burgers. In general I like anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 pound burger. Weighing in at 6 ounces total, this is just above that range. I guess I’ll start saying 4-6 ounces. The only thing I do not care for is the challah bun. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good bun, but I just don’t care for the sweetness it brings to the burger. I tend to go for a more basic bun myself. While I think a different bun would improve the burger, it will not prevent me from ordering this over and over again.

Spicy

Two house ground patties, ghost pepper jack cheese, spicy homemade pickles, chipotle habanero slaw, challah bun.

 KruegerSpicy

You know how some restaurants say something is spicy, and you order it only to be disappointed? That’s not going to happen here. This burger really lives up to its name. You may find some hard-core chili-heads who will declare it is not spicy enough, but I doubt you could find anyone who could honestly claim this was not spicy.

Some restaurants might slap on peppered cheese like Krueger’s ghost pepper jack and say “spicy”. Not Krueger’s. More committed spots might add spicy pickles like Krueger’s and be satisfied that they have delivered a spicy burger. Again, not Krueger’s. They had to add a third spicy element in the chipotle habanero slaw to push it over the edge. Our two victims club members who sampled this one definitely fingered the slaw as the main deliverer of heat. This is really sneaky since slaw is often used to cool things down. Of course, in those cases, it is not called chipotle habanero slaw.

I’ve had this before, and struggled to finish. Despite my warnings, Mark and Andy chose to tackle it.

Mark: Found the burger to be a pleasant amuse-bouche. He was ready for a second.

Mark also wins the unofficial award for best comment when he referred to it as an amuse-bouche.

Andy: Battled through finding that the dill spear helped make it through the spiciness. In an amusing turn of events, he requested additional pickles from the waiter to help cool the experience, and the waiter returned with more of the spicy pickles they put on the burger rather than the dill spear.

What We Didn’t Try

Bacon

Two house ground patties, American cheese, bacon, mixed greens, bacon mayo, homemade pickles, challah bun.

Bryan: Though I did not have it this trip, I have ordered it in the past. It is a solid burger.

BBQ

One house ground patty, braised BBQ pork, bacon, american cheese, granny apple smith slaw, dijon, challah bun.

Bryan: Gripped by guilt that I did not choose to “complete the cycle” by ordering this burger, I returned on Sunday with the family. OK, so I actually talked the family in going, and rationalized it by choosing this burger, and getting my wife an opportunity to finally check out the Krueger Burger (she had the Lincolnshire Sausage on our previous trip). It was very good. The pulled pork was tasty, and the slaw a great addition. Oh, and there is bacon. Hard to go wrong with bacon.

Veggie

House made veggie patty, provolone, pesto mayo, mixed greens, homemade pickles, challah bun.

Fries

KruegerFries

A burger is a fine thing on its own, but I am a big believer in the side, and Krueger’s delivers here as well. These are shoestring fries ($4) that are good on their own, but are over the top when you add the malt vinegar aioli. I am pretty confident they did not originate the idea, but this is the first time I have had it, and it is wonderful.

Anna: The excellence of the fries cannot be overstated. The Adams’s shared one order which turned out to be a big mistake.

Bryan:  I am a little obsessed with the malt vinegar aioli. Kind of like Ahab was a little obsessed with Moby Dick, or Mayor Cranley about hindering the streetcar or bike lanes. My wife had to remind me that the fries also stand on their own. Think McD’s with fresh cracked pepper.

Appetizers

We chose to start out with two of the appetizers, and they are both strong. Both appetizers come in a small metal pot over a warming candle and come with bread.

KruegerBeerCheese

The Hot Beer Cheese ($6) is made with Rhinegeist Cougar, sharp cheddar, spices and comes with toasted baguette and rye bread. Although described as “toasted baguette” it’s really just chunks of baguette and rye. Skewers are provided to dip the bread in the cheese. When I returned on Sunday, I heard a couple of tables getting samples of fresh-baked pretzel with the Beer Cheese. Looks like they are testing that, I would be a fan.

kruegerGruyereDip

The Hot Gruyere Dip ($6) is Gruyere, bacon, caramelized onion, scallions served with toasted baguette. And this time they are toasted. A spoon is provided to put the dip on each slice of crunchy baguette.

The location

I’ve always liked the building. They have done an excellent job updating it to fit their restaurant. We sat near the front window, and this shot is into the space.

KruegerInside

The burgers are served on custom cutting boards for a nice touch.

KruegerPlate

Other Details

It’s easy to lose sight that this was not opened as a burger bar. Sure, it is has become one in MY eyes, but I don’t exactly pull much (any) weight on the food scene. So, if you are not a burger fan, but know someone who is, this is a great place to come. They have some excellent sausage dishes, all sausages made in-house. Both my wife and Andy had the Linconshire on previous trips. and their chicken club is highly recommended.

Also, they do have a kids menu. Well, perhaps not a physical kid’s menu, but they offer a single-patty burger with cheese or a grilled cheese for kids. There were a lot of families with kids there for Sunday lunch. It was a nice atmosphere.

The Verdict

pFavI already knew this was going to be a new pFoody pFav as I have gone there a number times for lunch. But our first trip receives all thumbs up.

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