Fresno is in desperate need of a locally owned pizza place that does the following: has a wood-fired brick oven, makes their own dough that doesn’t taste like cardboard (Me-N-Eds), and uses fresh, simple ingredients. Actually I should rephrase that; Fresno needs one more besides Mattie’s Wood Fired Pizza. Now that they have a brick and mortar location downtown, someone is getting it right. Prior to them rolling in with their mobile pizza oven, no one in town was even coming close to having a decent wood fired pizza. Me-N-Eds (not wood-fired) has forever been a Fresno staple but it’s about time we face reality. It’s nothing more than a commercially made, half cardboard box and half raw dough pizza, that gives me cramps. You can choose to disagree if you like but I’m just over it. Fresno deserves better pizza.
The Mad Duck Neighborhood Grill & Taphouse
Many times I’ve walked directly passed the Mad Duck. Call me judgmental, but the smoker crowd on the patio was keeping me away, especially after having our first child. I figured it wasn’t really a place to take Toddler Bites but recently I just decided to forget all that. I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong. Once you get passed the hipsters smoking tobacco pipes on the patio, as if they’re paying homage to my Italian grandfather, the interior offers a handful of booths and high chairs. I guess shame on me.
In the last month, we’ve been twice. The service has been friendly and the food is serviceable. The beer selection on draft, while a little small, is well thought out and locally sourced. The bun they’re using for the burger is top notch. It’s chewy, sweet and stands up to juice and grease with no problem. I would like to see the patty fill in the bun a little more though. Overall it’s a good place to go for a game, a brew and a burger.
Dusty Buns Bistro
Nearly everyone in Fresno has heard of Dusty Buns. Sometimes I’ll get a blank stare but most people at least know of them. They’ve gotten tons of press from foodies, “bunners” (their loyalists), the local media and even Sacramento. Definitely they’ve earned it. They’re promoting organic food, the success of Fresno in general, and have been busting their buns (pun intended), all the while raising a family in a horrible economy. Kudos to them.
But…. I think it’s about time we realize the bun does have it’s limitations. It’s simply not suitable for every type of sandwich. A case in point is the burger I was served the other day. I actually ordered three. They all had the same texture; a gooey bun that’s a cross between an under-cooked buttermilk biscuit and a Logan’s dinner roll, soggy greens, and a beef patty that was cooked at such a low temperature on the flattop that it looked steamed like a dumpling. The whole thing was just a soggy mess. Perhaps a more dense and toasted bun, along with a bit more crunch from either the patty or the condiments, would fix the issue. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m 80 and all my teeth have fallen out, this is going to be a hit. But until then I’ll have to pass.
Perhaps my criticism is a bit harsh and maybe I’m not qualified to judge a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, but after eating at Dusty Buns several times now, I just haven’t fallen in love like most. I want more from Dusty Buns than a few sandwich options, the same bistro fries (now 4 dollars?), and a soup de jour (which tasted like grass clippings). I want more from a bistro that’s received so much attention. I want an actual dinner plate with a fantastic side dish and an amazing sauce that makes me want to use the bun as a utensil to sop up every last drop.