A better burger

. March 13, 2013.
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Great Plains Burger Co.
1771 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Phone: 734-769-6900
Hours: Mon-Sat 11 am – 10 pm
Sunday 11:30 am – 9:30 pm

www.greatplainsburger.com

It should have been easy to find Great Plains Burger Company. The restaurant, which opened last fall, is perched on a corner of Plymouth Road across from the entrance to the University of Michigan’s North Campus. Nevertheless, I zoomed
right past it.

Luckily, this led me around to the parking lot, which is situated behind, rather than in front of, the restaurant. 

Small, but mastered menu 

Ordering at Great Plains was simpler that it makes only a few things, but has mastered them all. The menu includes an all-natural beef or turkey 1/3 lb. burger, a Black Angus beef hot dog, grilled cheese, fresh cut fries from Idaho potatoes, and chocolate, strawberry or vanilla shakes made with Guernsey Farms ice cream.

 If you choose a burger, you can load it up with numerous toppings, sauces, and cheeses. I ordered the turkey burger with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and mustard. My husband picked a beef patty with provolone, grilled onions, jalapeños, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, and A1 steak sauce.

There is no kids’ menu at Great Plains, but the burger, hot dog or grilled cheese should appeal to most children. My 6-year-old son chose a beef patty
with American cheese and ketchup. My daughter, age 3, wanted a hot dog with ketchup. We added a basket of French fries to share.

The restaurant is counter service, so we took a seat after ordering. Our table and chairs were new and modern looking, but only a smidge more comfortable
than those at a fast food chain. The walls, painted orange, brown, and light blue, mimicked the scenery I saw once on a drive through South Dakota. Boxes of potatoes awaiting their French fry fates sat stacked between the dining area and the open kitchen. Our kids enjoyed viewing the kitchen, watching cooks put potatoes through the slicer and flip burgers.
 

Fresh food

Our food was brought hot and fresh to our table. The basket of fries was huge. The fries—soft-style, rather than crispy—had a fresh, light flavor. We barely finished the basket, but not from lack of trying.

My son dug into his burger, which he declared “awesome.” He finished half. Meanwhile, my daughter’s hot dog was served sliced in half lengthwise on a hamburger bun. She nibbled on the dog, ignoring the bun. My husband and I reminisced about how our son, when younger, would have refused to eat a
hot dog served like that. Parents of finicky kids, you have been warned. 

My turkey burger was moist and seasoned with a hint of salt and pepper. The bun, baked especially for the restaurant by Zingerman’s, was buttery and
better than your standard supermarket fare. My husband’s burger, loaded with his handpicked toppings, looked good, too.

“How is it?” I inquired.

“Good.”

I persisted. “Is it tasty? Juicy? Flavorful? Undercooked? Overcooked?”

“I can’t taste much of anything right now because of the jalapeños!” he said, waving a napkin in front of his face. I take it the jalapeños were fresh.

We saved room for a chocolate and vanilla shake, which we all shared. The shakes were thick, only a tad thinner than ice cream itself. We definitely needed the wide-mouth straws with which they were served. After we finished, we agreed our meals had been simple, fresh, and tasty. If you are in the neighborhood, try not to drive by. Rather, stop and enjoy.

THE SHORT COURSE
Kid-friendly
Yes
To avoid wait Because it’s counter service, you may only wait in line to order
Noise level High
Bathroom amenities No changing table in either restroom
High chairs Yes
Got milk No, just Coca-Cola products
Kids’ menu No, but the menu offers hot dogs and grilled cheese
Anything healthy for kids Not particularly. A black-bean vegetarian burger was available the night we dined.
Food allergy concerns They cook with cholesterol-free canola oil, not peanut oil; call ahead with specific concerns

Katy M. Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Saline. Contact her c/o editor@annarborfamily.comhttps://editor@annarborfamily.com