Caspers and Runyons Shamrocks: Saint Paul
(Sorry about the crappy pictures taken from my Crackberry)
Sunday afternoon the wife, kids and I headed down to West 7th for lunch at Shamrocks. I think it is called Shamrocks, or is it Caspers & Runyouns Shamrocks (yeah, cause that has such a nice ring to it)? Or are the two owners just too into themselves that they have to plaster their name on everything they touch? For the purposes of this review, I am going to refer to them as simply Shamrocks. This was our second attempt at Shamrocks as Friday night we were told it would be an hour wait while they had about 9 empty tables in the dinning room.
Now I know that Saint Paul has a huge Irish tradition and all, but the only thing Irish about this place was the beer they offered. I chose a true pint of Finnegans and finished with a second pint of Smithwicks. Both very delicious and not knowing what the price was going to be, I was actually surprised after all was said and done at only being charged $5.50 for each. It was a Wild game day and the banner hanging across the dinning room offered a bottle of Miller Lite "Piss" for the super-low price of $6.
So lets move on to the huge menu they offer. Up for an eating challenge? They have two to pick from. Starting with the Devilishly Hot Wing Challenge, eat 14 Hot Damn Wings and get a T-shirt. If wings aren't your thing, how about the Nookie Supreme Burger Challenge? The Double Decker Cheeseburger with special sauce and fries, eat two and you will also win a T-shirt. If a food challenge is not your idea of a good time, you will probably find an appetizer or two that will sound good to you. Anything from Wasabi Wings, Cheese Curds, Mini Tacos, Nook Bites (marinated sirloin tips with creamy blarney sauce) to Shamrock Bites, Leprechaun Legs, Lucky Charms (Let me remind you again, the only thing Irish here is the beer) and Sweet Potato Fries. And this is just a sample of the menu. Then you move onto the next page of Specials and a third page of Burgers and sandwiches.
The appetizers all looked good and the cheese curds that the table next to us ordered just about had the wife's arm twisted into ordering a basket. We stuck with the free popcorn until the real reason we were here arrived, the Juicy Nookie Burger. Lets start with the wife's burger first. She surprised the crap out of me and ordered the Stuffed Springsteen Philly Cheeseburger. Not really knowing what it was or what to expect as the menu offered no description except it is good enough for The Boss himself. The Springstein was huge and had what we think was Provolone cheese melted on top of the burger. After taking several bites to get to the surprise in the middle, we found it stuffed with nicely thick-cut onions, green peppers and more cheese. She offered no complains and finished the entire thing rather quickly. I think she may have offered me a bite, but I didn't want to ruin this ever so hyped Nookie Burger.
So now on to the Nookie Burger basket. I chose to add onion rings rather than the fresh-cut homemade fires at an additional $1.50. The O-rings ranked up there with some of the best I have ever had (I would rank them #2 or #3 if the onions were just a little less mushy) but only receiving 5 tiny rings, I was rather disappointed. The Nookie Burger was ever placed so perfect in the basket with the little bit of cheese that was coming out of it positioned to the back of the basket (Needle hole, see below). It was the smallest Lucy I have ever seen. It looked like one of those $1 burgers you would find at a happy hour dive bar, oh wait, I was at a dive bar. Did they bring me the wrong burger? I bit into it and nothing, took another bite and all of the sudden my lips were sticking to each other. There it was, a very small amount of Cheese Whiz or what ever the hell it was. At first I thought it was nasty, but quickly grew on me and within a matter of moments it was gone. I could have eaten two more, but didn't want to put that crap in my mouth again. The burger itself was delicious, the cheese however was just nasty. Remember how the burger was perfectly positioned into the basket, I think I may have figured out why. They aren't cooking these things stuffed with cheese. I think they are running a makeshift bakery in the kitchen. When the long-john filler isn't being used to make lemon bismarks for the new fire station across the street , they are filling it with semi warm Cheese Whiz and stuffing a cooked burger after it comes off the grill. OK, probably not how they do it, but that's what it sure tasted like.
I sure hope that The Nook has better Lucy's than Shamrocks offered. Is it all in the grill like a lot of people say? Maybe I just got a bad one? That happens every so often. Don't take the above comments too seriously, remember I did say that the Cheese Whiz (or what ever the hell that crap was) did quickly grow on me. I will order another Nookie Burger the next time I visit Shamrocks and the wife and kids both enjoyed the food they ordered. The thing I am having a hard time figuring out though, is how can this place even be considered for having the best Juicy Lucy in town? Are we all (myself probably being the biggest culprit) so focused on loyalty and could give a crap about quality? The environment and atmosphere at Shamrocks is exactly what restaurants outside of the Big City are missing and everything I love about this place. If anything, I will be back just for the atmosphere and maybe a few Wasabi Wings or a burger challenge.