Burger Battle: Uncle Joe's Bar and Grill Wins for Most Interesting Side Dish
For the past few weeks our resident restaurant reviewer is searching for the best burger in St. Charles. This week, she tried Uncle Joe's burgers.
Now that summer has come to a close, St. Charles Patch is searching for the best burger in the city.
The recent review of JJ's Restaurant sets a high bar for burgers in St. Charles. However, there are some other worthwhile contenders. Throughout the next few weeks, we’re visiting the best burger joints in the city to see how their offerings stack up.
When conducting a burger battle, how could I resist a place with a burger and fries painted on the window?
Uncle Joe's is another one of Main Street's bars that happens to serve lunch. Like Lloyd and Harry's, it's clearly a bar first and a restaurant second, though it didn't have a minimum drink order. A dozen assorted sized tables dot the narrow dining area. The back wall hosts a couple of electronic dartboards, a golf arcade game, and a much larger, flashier, modern photo booth with effects and options for documenting a night on the town without trusting a stranger to take a decent photo with your camera.
Pressed tin and carved wood bar accents alongside rustic wood paneling give the room a winter lodge feel, if the people at your lodge drank $4 pitchers of Natty Lite.
The short menu at Uncle Joe's is pretty straightforward. Eight dollars gets you a pound of plain, lemon pepper, cashew or honey jerk chicken wings. For the same price, you can also get some mozzarella sticks, toasted ravioli, chicken tenders or fried pickles off the appetizer menu. If you're in the mood for something that hasn't been deep-fried, Uncle Joe's offer a turkey wrap, buffalo chicken wrap, or chicken Caesar wrap, also for $8. If you're feeling flush, you can opt for a supreme, meat lovers or buffalo chicken pizza for $12-15.
In keeping with the theme of the menu, the half dozen burgers are also $8. In addition to a basic hamburger, cheeseburger or double cheeseburger, you can get a bacon cheddar burger, a mushroom Swiss burger, a black and blue burger topped with blue cheese and fresh ground black pepper, and an egg and cheese burger with an over hard egg and American cheese.
Sides include french fries, homemade chips, tater tots or fried potato salad. My inner child has a well-known weakness for tater tots, but I was intrigued by the fried potato salad. It was time for a grown-up side dish to go with my cheeseburger.
The cheeseburger came on another plain white, grocery store bun that mashed into a cracker thin coating of white bread paste as soon as I picked it up. It was presented sitting atop a slice of lettuce, tomato and onion that I could add to the sandwich as I chose. The burger patty itself was a bit on the dry side. I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected sweet house spice coating with a blend of salt, sugar, pepper and liquid smoke. After all the deliciously juicy burgers I've eaten in St. Charles, I'll confess I was disappointed that even after my bun fell to pieces, I didn't get the slightest bit of grease on my hands while eating.
While the burger itself was uninspiring, Uncle Joe's does win points for what is hands-down the most interesting side dish I've seen at any burger joint in St. Charles. I had no idea what to expect from fried potato salad. I had to order it just to find out.
Imagine a hearty plate of extra crunchy, fresh cube-style hash browns. The warm chunks of potato were combined with a mix of diced celery, onions, and ample crumbles of deep-fried bacon. The whole concoction was then doused in a surprisingly light mix of mayo and mustard. The potatoes were freshly fried before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients, so the massive side dish was all served hot and crispy. I can honestly say I've never seen anything quite like it. The huge portion was shareable, so if you're on the fence, talk friends into splitting their fries if you share your fried potato salad, and you'll both get to go on a small culinary adventure.
There was nothing wrong with my food, but there was nothing exceptionally right about it, either. After visiting Lloyd and Harry's next door, it's hard not to make comparisons. The food there was cheaper, the service faster and the options more diverse. That doesn't make Uncle Joe's bad, but it's hard for an average place to compete when right next door to somewhere exceptional.
The total for my burger, iced tea and fried potato salad came to $10.74 plus a $2 tip. If you're in the mood for a fast, interesting, inexpensive burger, I'd suggest Lloyd and Harry's. However, if you want a larger menu, interesting side dish option, and a little more space to spread out and relax with friends, Uncle Joe's isn't a bad place to spend some time. As a burger joint, I give it a B-.
Burger Battle Contenders:
Loco's Grill and Pub
Lloyd and Harry's
Share your thoughts! Click on these St. Charles restaurants to give them a rating.
Tuner's Bar and Grill
1/2 Traks Sports Bar
The Corner Bar
Pine Room Bar and Grill
Lady Di's Diner and Catering
Old Mill Stream Inn
Rookie's Bar and Grill
Lewis and Clark's
Tony's on Main Street
Big A's on the Riverfront
The Falcon Diner