The food is good at Convention Grill. Very good, in fact. But it’s not the best part of the 1930s-era art deco burger-and-malt joint. We love the old, original short-order grill up front as you enter, the mirrored main dining room with red-and-white checked plastic tablecloths and black-and-white floor tile, the uniformed waitresses who tend to customers with old-fashioned concern. We’ll go further and say that the woman who served us one Labor Day at lunchtime was simply the finest waitress we have had anywhere, at any time.
Burgers and fries and malts – that’s what you’re here for, and there’s something about each one of those elements that evokes a time long past. It doesn’t feel like a re-creation, an homage, or a tongue-in-cheek hipster take on an old tradition. It seems like it still IS. For example, the burger is not humongous, not made with prime beef grown specially for them on an organic farm, but neither is it the gray, gristly, juiceless patty of “beef” that has long become de rigueur in diners and luncheonettes across America. The burger is moderately sized, well-browned but thick enough to retain plenty of juice, and comes on a classic, fresh bun. Another buck’ll get you cheese, and special add-on toppings include bacon, mushrooms, and avocado. It strikes us as the kind of burger you might have expected as a matter of course decades ago but has all but disappeared in the 21st century.
The fries: they are made from fresh potatoes, with skins left on. They arrive hot, salted and crisp. They are spectacular, and served in spectacularly large portions. Our kindly waitress clued us in that the regular order of fries we asked for would normally serve a table of six, so we skeptically settled for a half-order. Of course, she was right – a half-order was plenty for the two of us.
Malts: Like the fries, the menu is deceptive about the size of the malts. A full malt is presented in a tulip glass, mounded high, with the icy steel mixing vessel presented alongside, holding enough malt to refill your glass completely, and then some. In fact, a full-size shake is made with a full quart of ice cream. Most normal people get one to split. They come in many flavors, from the straight-arrow chocolate, strawberry, and coffee, to surprisingly modern versions with Butterfingers or Oreos, although the hot fudge malt sounds right to us. Add a banana for 75 cents. Whatever malt you decide on, you will luxuriate in the silkiest texture imaginable, thick but just barely thin enough to suck up a straw, albeit with some real effort.
The menu has more than the aforementioned burgers, fries, and malts, but just a little more. There’s chili and some well-regarded homemade chicken soup, a few sandwiches and salads, and some ice cream sundaes and floats for dessert — the hot fudge sundae is hugely popular. Although, if you’ve done proper justice with your malt, there is no way whatsoever you will even consider a sundae. Which way will you go?3912 Sunnyside Road Edina MN 55424 952-920-6881 Convention Grill’s Website Convention Grill on Facebook