I’m Not A Food Critic, Parlour

ParlourI’m not a food critic, Parlour.

However, the one thing my taste buds have goin’ for ’em is for the last three years they’ve been shielded from beef patties between buns.

You know, because cheeseburgers aren’t traditionally Chinese food stuffs.

Burgers are particularly special. I appreciate them. I know what it’s like to live in a place where they are not a thing. In that world it is very difficult exist.

Happy Birthday, Niki

Honestly Parlour, it wasn’t my intention to visit and review a burger. Hell, I didn’t even know you were a place! (You certainly weren’t in 2012 when I left the states.)

All I wanted to do was celebrate with Chris and Niki. To rejoice having made it once more around the sun and say goodbye to the previous year.

Standing out front smoking before entering they said Parlour slings the best burger in town. That’s what they heard here here here here here here here

Expectations? Yeah. Challenge: accepted.

I had no choice but to order the $13 meaty award winner, plate of $5 fries, and offer this unsolicited* feedback.

So what follows is the stream of consciousness I experienced three drinks into my night when the food arrived.

Parlour Burger. Photo by Joy Summers.
Parlour Burger. Photo by Joy Summers.

Mmmm. Smells charred a bit. Perfect backyard barbecue burger scent. I’m glad they don’t call it that. Backyard BBQ burger? Dumb. Good heft, though. Too much bun? Must. Absorb. Alcohol. It’s fine. Taste? Open wide and…salt. Aggressively seasoned. Too much? Wait…

I’ve had this before! Culver’s Double Butter Burger but…drier?

Wish I had both for the blind taste test! Culver’s does have the cheaper, dirtier burger… Sometimes I want nasty guilty pleasures. Feeling food naughty — wait! — Cheese! Go back. More. Again! Cheese! Parlour gets cheese. Culver’s don’t.

Damn, cheese! Burger elevated!

Parlour’s burger is probably healthier too. No dripping melted butter. But no calorie info. Hmm. It’s fancy though. Fancy means healthy now, right?

Ooo! There’s pickles on the plate!

Why aren’t the pickles on the burger? Am I supposed to dress the burger? The bun and patties are glued together with Heaven’s cheese. How am I supposed to get in there? Are these here for garnish? A palate cleanser?

Fuck it. Trying ’em.

No! Culver’s pickles are better. This ain’t right!

I will not apologize!

These pickles are too fancy! I wasn’t raised on pretentious pickles! I’m a working class nobody! Now I feel bad. I don’t understand the many nuances of these pickles.

…they’re mocking me. Shut it, pickles. You’re only on the plate separated from the industrial-sized jar of your brothers and sisters to be thrown away and die alone. Because you suck, pickles!

Oh, but these fries are WAY BETTER! No question. Parlour fries taste like actual potatoes. Fresh. Welled seasoned. Hot, good hot, damn! Culver’s fries taste like warm cardboard jigsaw pieces. Yuck. Who goes to Culver’s for fries? Not anyone with an ability to taste!

One more burger bite left.

So this is the best the MPLS food scene offers? I hope not. It’s good, but I’m not about to stop searching for the best. Feeling a bit let down… This is the problem with expectations —

And I’m joined at the bar by a well-informed lady. She asks the bartender, Scott Weller of psychedelia band Magic Castles, for something special. I ask for the same. Scott leaves and returns with two new concoctions.

“What’s it called,” she asks.

“I don’t know. I just made it up,” Scott laughs.

The well-informed lady christens it, “The Scott Weller Send Off!”

That drink, the staff, and the many other stupid-awesome drinks at Parlour are reason enough to visit.

Oh, and they sell burgers too.

* = click here to solicit food feedback for your establishment

Minnesota Fringe Festival “Thumbs Up” Audience Reviews

Thumbs Up 4.5 Stars
Minnesota Fringe Festival audience reviews for “Thumbs Up” give the show an average 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Here’s what the audiences are saying…

“…clever! Wonderful writing. Great show!” -Jane Pena


“Funny, high energy…” -Frederick Melo


“Fast-paced, well-rehearsed… This guy has a bright future ahead of him.” -Publius McGee



“…inventive and funny.” -Cato Brutus


“Polished, funny, endearing, and poignant.” -Krystal McKay


“…ranging in tender, heartfelt moments to down right laugh out loud funny.” -John Potter



“About two-thirds of the way through this show I realized my face hurt from laughing so much!” -Ellen Anderson


“…well acted with dialogue that was funny and sentimental.” -Shannon Hunter


“An entertaining script, brought to life. Transitions are wonderful and don’t miss the dancing!” -Maureen Anderson



“…exceptionally well acted with interesting characters, a timely theme and a well constructed plot line.” -Janis Emily Peabody


“…heartfelt, yet not too sappy, and interjected with great one-liners.” -Ashley Wurster


DC Theatre Scene “Thumbs Up” Review

…it is Minneapolis-based Venske’s acting that anchors the piece solidly…Venske attacks with enthusiasm…left the audience in stitches…Venske is at his best, unafraid to bust a move or pull out a silly dialect. His intensity is impressive…he doesn’t disappoint…enjoyable experience from beginning to end…

-Julia Katz, DC Theatre Scene

Minnesota Fringe Festival “Casanova Man” Audience Reviews


Minnesota Fringe Festival audience reviews for “Casanova Man” give the show an average 2.5 out of 5 stars!

Here’s what the audiences are saying…

“…and Michael Venske as the Bartender [Pete] made me practically fall out of my seat when he left his post as drink server and began to seduce women and join the cast in a dance sequence near the end that was hilarious!” -Chuck Beeson

“The only redeeming qualities were Pete and Emma’s performances.” -Cid Starwind

Standout performances by Michael Venske and Lourey Middlecamp kept my interest throughout.” -re gurgitate

“…sort of low in energy (sans Bartender Pete’s mad dance skills)…The redeeming quality? Emma and Pete really made the show. -Katherine Arcand