Macri’s at the Depot: Runaway Train – Never Coming Back?

Macri’s at the Depot is a restaurant in downtown Bloomington residing in an old train loading station, hence the “depot” part of the name. This family friendly restaurant clearly tries for an old timey setting, with a large wooden front loading dock, original doors and millwork, and ancient-looking windows. The potential of this antique motif is thoroughly ruined by the interior decor, which involves a less interesting, poorly executed, not-enough-pieces-of-flair version of a chain restaurant.

So it was with a small bit of apprehension that we sat down to try this burger, hoping its quality did not match the surroundings.

Neil:

One of my favorite things about the blog is trying restaurants that I know very little about. I had not even heard about Macri’s until the fall, and this was my first time trying their food.

Classic fixin's for Neil.

Classic fixin’s for Neil, but hard to see each layer.

Macri’s offers a wide variety of ways that customers can customize their Depot Burgers with six different kinds of cheese, eight sauces/condiments, an array of toppings, and even two spice options (Cajun and Tex-Mex) if one wants to add some extra flair.

I opted for a fairly classic prep: cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, and pickles. Can’t go wrong with any of those. I also asked for a number of the condiments on the side, though I only up adding some brown mustard, and a little ketchup and mayo to my burger. I saved the bistro sauce for the fries.macri's

The burger and fries arrived in a long, narrow basket, and though I liked the way it looked, I prefer to be able to see the many layers of the burger before I dig in. That’s nitpicking, I know, but that’s what I do.

The menu says the burgers are a half-pound, and I think that’s spot on. This was not a tiny burger. Overall, the toppings were fairly good. The pickle slices were nice and thick, and I never complain about grilled onions. The bacon strips of bacon were really nice and the cheddar was perfectly melted over the bacon, as it should be (it helps keep the bacon in place). The lettuce and tomato were kind of mundane, but I didn’t lose any sleep because of it. The bun also cost the burger a couple points. It was a pretty standard bun, and the bun to burger ratio was just right, but the bun was barely toasted and that just doesn’t work for me.

I was pretty excited after my first bite. The many layers complemented each other well from both a flavor and texture perspective. Everything was going great, but then I got deeper into the burger. The patty was dry. At first that is easy to overlook because the various toppings, especially the gooey cheese can help mask that, but each bite seems to compound how dry the patty is. The meat, in addition to being dry, was also not especially flavorful.

macri's presentationThe Depot Burger comes standard with fries, though one has the option to sub in other sides for $1.00. Don’t waste the money — stick with the fries. They were good. Hot, crispy and delicious. I might have gone on a 72-hour fry fueled bender if that was only possible.

In the end, the dry, underseasoned patty held back what has the potential to be a very good burger. If Macri’s can get that right (as well as a couple other small things like bun toasting and better lettuce), then I think they have a chance to be high on our list.

Chris: 

The build-it-yourself style burger is something we have seen before, and yet I do not know if we have ever seen this many options. The menu was expansive, to say the least. I ordered my burger with grilled mushroom and onions, tomato, lettuce, bacon, and cheddar cheese. The waitress asked how I would like the burger cooked, and so I offered my standard “medium” response.

The burger arrived in a basket, and it looked amazing. Shaved iceberg lettuce and grilled onions spilled out from under the bun, with just a little bacon peaking out from underneath. (To Neil’s point about presentation, I could only see the burger once I dug it out from the bottom of the basket and placed it on my pile of fries.)

The beautiful presentation of the toppings was indicative of their taste. The mushrooms were tender from the griddle, and tasted as if they were grilled with the onions, which imparted additional flavor. Most importantly, the mushrooms appeared to have never come from a can, a bonus in this town. The cheddar cheese was creamy with a tangy bite. The bacon was crispy, buttery, and full of flavor.

Even the bun was well toasted on all sides, and while it was not especially flavorful, it was sufficient to hold up the attractive innards.

IMG_0571At this point you may think, is this going to be the Cinderella story of this blog? A little known entrant breaking brackets and going all the way? Will this burger be a “shocker,” but even better?

Sadly, the answer is no. When it came to the meat, the train went off the rails. As you may recall from about 30 lines ago, the waitress asked how I wanted my burger cooked. For the record, I ordered a medium. What I received would be hard to distinguish from a well-done burger. The patty was dry and thoroughly brown. (An aside: I do not mind if a burger is a little over cooked for health code reasons, but do not flambé the patty into a charcoal briquette please.)

The meat was also strangely tasteless, having neither proper seasoning or the benefit of any remaining juices that would have at least imparted a nice fatty flavor. Sadly, it was as if the cook put the patty on the griddle, forgot to season it, and then just plain forgot about the patty for about 30 minutes.

Conclusion:

This burger had so much going for it, and if we did ratings on the toppings alone, it would have received a very nice score. The cooks did this burger an injustice when it came to the patty. What a shame.

Raw Score:          3 / 5 points
Price-adjusted:    3 / 5 points

Price:                  $8.99 + $1.00 for bacon
Gained points:     Toppings, lots of choices with few costing more
Lost points:         Dry, flavorless patty.
Drinks:                Water for Neil; Iced tea (unsweetened) for Chris
Date of visit:       2/15/13 (National Day in Serbia)

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