The Village Deli: It takes a Village to ruin a burger.

If you have spent some time in Bloomington, then you have likely been to the Village Deli.  Known for their giant pancakes, the restaurant is often packed on weekend mornings.  We know that most people don’t go to the Village Deli (V.D.)[1] for burgers, which is exactly why we wanted to see what they had to offer.  Unfortunately, the results were not pretty.[2]

Service does not factor into our ratings in any way, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the slow, slow service.  Restaurants with outdoor seating should not be “seat yourself” restaurants, yet that is exactly the process at the Village Deli.  We wanted to sit outside, so we grabbed a seat hoping that our server would be out soon.  It ended up taking Neil three trips inside before we finally saw our server.  Neil hit a waitress in the face during one excursion to find some service.  It was an accident, and she was okay.[3]

Neil and Chris are pretty unanimous in our opinion of the burgers — they were failures.  As we ordered the same burger: a cheeseburger with cheddar and grilled onions, we are saving some time by writing one review together.  On arrival of the burgers, we were pleasantly surprised.  They looked well stacked and properly sized, and there were even a couple of pickle slices stuck on top of the burger with a toothpick.  Neil would have preferred the pickles on the burger, but it was a nice presentation anyway.  Chris found the pickle slice presentation playful and hoped that it was a good sign of things to come.

It only got worse from here.

The rating for the burger might have earned a rating of 3 or 3.5 if we had stopped there.  Sadly we did not.  Let’s see… where should we start?  The bun was a simple white bun, but it was too heavy.  With so much bread, how can you be expected to taste the whole burger?  The buns were also unevenly toasted, suggesting sloppy preparation.

The patties were dry, under-seasoned and probably had been frozen at some point.  The texture of the beef just was not pleasant.  The patty was tough with visible pieces of sinew and unmelted fat that suggested something closer to grade C than grade A beef.  The toppings were no better.  The onions were not “grilled,” as advertised.  They were put on the flattop and cooked slightly, but they were still crunchy and tasted mostly raw.  The cheese was waxy and had absolutely no taste.  Chris tried the cheese alone, and found that if there was any taste at all it was a bitter aftertaste.  The lettuce and tomatoes were also disappointing – with the lettuce old and half-wilted, the tomato pinkish white, flavorless, and mealy.  We had low expectations for the burgers at the Village Deli, and they lived up (or down?) to our expectations.  While the burgers were decidedly poor, we realize that they definitely could have been worse.  Even so, Chris could not even finish his burger, he was so disappointed.

We ordered the fries and potato salad as our sides.  The fries hit the mark.  The potato salad did not.  The fries are thin and battered before frying.  We both agreed that restaurants should advertise that their fries are battered (V.D. don’t do this), as opposed to just fried, but we cannot fault them too much for this.  While a little greasy, the fries were still tasty.  The potato salad missed the mark.  It was mainly potato, mayo and rosemary. The rosemary was overpowering.  A little rosemary is good, but they went a bit overboard.  While there were hints of dill weed, celery, and onion slices, these flavors were overwhelmed by the massive chunks of potato and slathering of mayo.


There’s no reason to go to the V.D. if you want a burger.  There are many other, better options in town.  Stick to breakfast, not burgers, at this restaurant.

Raw Score:              2 / 5 burgers
Price-adjusted:        2 / 5 burgers

Price:                      $6.45 for a plain burger + 0.80 for cheese + 0.50 for grilled onion
Gained points:         Presentation
Lost points:             Everything else
Drinks:                    Water
Date of visit:           10/4/12 (World Animal Day)

[1] The acronym for Village Deli should in no way imply any connection to venereal disease, though we at TheBBB realize we cannot help the random connotations our readers might make.

[2] As you will see by the end of this review, this sentence contains more than a tad of understatement.

[3] Chris must say that if he didn’t know Neil as well as he does, he might have thought that Neil had lost patience and decked someone. Seriously, we sat outside for over 25 minutes before someone brought us menus. Unless you are in some parts of Europe or Latin America, that is simply too long of a wait.


5 thoughts on “The Village Deli: It takes a Village to ruin a burger.

  1. So, let me get this straight… you both ate beef on World Animal Day? That just seems wrong? Maybe, a Veggie burger would have been more appropriate…. 😉

  2. I agree 100% on the fries! I think that’s the reason I keep going back…even for lunch. The Deli Club isn’t bad…

  3. Since VD is last on your list so far, I can’t wait until you get to the Bakehouse burgers. I’ve only had one there, and it was possibly the worst I’ve ever had.

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