Tucked down a street in between a bank and some other shop, whose name has eluded me, sits the former site of Butler and Company – now, Dakota Grill. I am sure we are all aware of its transformation from a wrap serving take away into a burger place. What shocked me, though, is the severe lack of marketing or advertising during or after the switch.
It seems there was no voice informing the everyday consumer about the new Grill’s existence. I thought this a perfectly good reason to investigate why this was the case and to start my run of columns telling you how terrible the place is.
As I began some light research before writing this, I found that Dakota Grill had indeed brought back their “famous” wraps from a bygone era (last semester). I was not a particular fan of their badly priced wraps, with names such as Stevie Wonder and Flame-Grilled Money-Waster, so the fact that they had brought them back was surely speaking volumes for the success of the new burger shop. I made a plan to grab lunch there last week, treating it as an inquiry into the food quality and general feel of the place.
I arrived on Church Street, immediately confronted by a bland, dry shop front looking oddly similar to the former Butler and Co. branding. The first challenge for me was to manoeuvre myself into the store through the preposterously small, double doors. It was as if their heavy-hinged entrance was trying to keep me out; a helping hand from the “Value-For-Money” angel, maybe.
Victory came upon me when I successfully slithered into the premises. Being fairly famished, the lengthy queue took me by surprise, especially as it was now half past two and the lunch rush was over. It seemed that past problems with the old shop had become systemic issues: I only assumed the mass of people waiting for their orders were doing so because of the dreadful lack of seats and the painfully slow cooking time.
The décor has also certainly been taken down a peg from the artisan- indie feel that the previous shop offered. I was not entirely sure whether they had deliberately tried to purvey a sense of “Feng-Shui” irony by making the countertops mimic a fast-food outlet, even although the food took ages to arrive.
When it was finally my time to order, I went for a double cheeseburger and chips – or fries if you are that way inclined. Obviously it was “to go” as, ten minutes in, the seating palaver was even more of an issue. Calling my name out when the order was complete, a brown paper bag was handed to me containing my purchases. Round two of the door problem came swiftly next: this time I went for a simple push method and found that it was indeed a pull, requiring both of the infinitesimally small doors to be operated simultaneously.
Joking aside, I sat on a bench ready to tuck into an unusually good looking meal. At this point I want to tell you how simply disgusting the burger was; how horribly greasy and messy the patty was; how awfully salty the chips were… I simply, however, cannot. What began as simple research for an article turned into a culinary milestone in my life.
I know how far-fetched this next line may seem, yet I am more than sure what I experienced that day was the best cheeseburger and chips I have ever tasted. A take-away burger cannot be cooked or presented any better than the way Dakota Grill have done it. The burger itself, light and juicy. The chips, crispy on the outside and very fluffy on the inside. It even came with a wipe to clean your hands post- meal. I may sound mad, but this experience was truly mind-blowing.
What must be taken away from this is the following. Firstly, I have raging and sometimes incorrect preconceptions – I am working on it and will try to tone it down. Secondly, and most importantly, the Dakota Grill is simply not doing enough to capitalise on their creations. It offers an amazing product and more people should know about this. They require much more seating, quicker service, and a little brand uplifting. These simple steps will vastly improve its presence in St Andrews and its turnover. After having done this, I see no reason to suggest otherwise that the shop cannot stand as a franchisable example for a new chain of high-street, gourmet burger restaurants – obviously only after they fix the door.