The Harvest Grill (Quasi-Review)

                There’s something I have to admit to. Despite my many original claims over a dedication to hit every single Food Truck out there, I have come to find there to be certain trucks that, for some reason, I just can’t find any urge to want to write about, let alone visit. This isn’t the Event Truck concept I mentioned earlier (well, maybe a bit with some of them); these are all fully separate Food Trucks which I have avoided cast my own shadow over to better give myself reasons to not actually visit and review them.

                As much as I would like to say, this problem lies not with the Trucks themselves but with myself; I am unfulfilling a certain promise I made due to my own bias over these businesses which don’t excite me. It is an unfair practice on my part, but at the same time it IS how I feel, and though I will never offer a full, complete review on some of these Trucks, I shall still try to fulfill my claims to at least offer a “quasi” review on them whenever I can.

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                One of these places I’ve found to avoid, and the first to experience this small review (besides that one Ice truck) is The Harvest Grill. Based on a restaurant in Rogers which has spread to a couple other cities, not to mention the streets.

                I actually give these guys a lot of props for one thing; despite being Restaurant-based, the Truck focuses on the one part of the menu best suited to the Street, Wraps. But though I like the idea of doing wraps for the street, and still think we need a good Wrap-based Truck (sorry, Burritos don’t count… they just don’t… stop looking at me!), this just isn’t where it’s found.

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                Almost everything is based off chicken, with a couple Porks, the only thing seemingly separating them being different veggie combos with the random “special sauce” or other intrigue (the one with Lingonberry Cream Cheese looks interesting). I myself tried the Thai Chicken, though I don’t really think one should be allowed to label it “Thai” if its only element is Peanut Sauce. I mean the rest just tasted like one of those wraps you pick up at Target or other random store or restaurant, maybe a bit better, bit crisper veggies; but not much real effort put in. The chicken just had that soft, sorta “spongy” (I’m not really sure the actual word to describe it; but when you have cold chicken in average or under quality wraps you know what I mean) texture.

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                If I WERE to rate this like other reviews, it would probably end up sorta like this:

                Food: 5-ish – maybe a bit under, it was fine but not exciting. Maybe others are better.

                Holdability: 8 – wraps are great for walking, but they cut in half and put in a basket so this potential is cut down.

                Speed: 9 – pretty damn fast, all they have to do is wrap things up. I mean I had to wait a bit because apparently they ran out of lettuce, but that has nothing to do with production.

                Price: 7.5-ish – they’re all $7, though it’s a quality that barely fits.

                TOE: 3-5 – though I admit my own fault and bias in not reviewing, part of this has to also be from the actual truck itself and the inability to really draw me in.

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                Well, I think that’s about all I have to say on the matter. With this new mindset into those which I don’t normally go to, I can at least promise from here out coming “Quasi Reviews” on some of the few places I have yet to report on. So look forward to Stanley’s, She Royal, and other such locations along with my Full listings on Newer and other Trucks.

Tollefson Family Grill

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http://www.tollefsonfamilypork.com/  

https://twitter.com/tollefsonpork

Main Location: Etc

            A long winter, spring, and summer, and my chance has finally come to take in the Tollefson Family Grill Truck. It has been many an adventure of mine to visit various Farmer’s Markets, Breweries, and other events only to find a case of frozen meat, a portable grill just sending dogs and burgers, or an unknown cancelling. Oh if only I had taken the opportunity to hit them those during those summer days in Minneapolis when they parked on Nicolette. Sadly they have since cancelled their trip up the downtown circuit, only sticking to certain outskirt locations, some special events, and the occasional Brewery visit.

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            But a recent visit to Harriet has finally allowed me the chance to sample a couple of their items, while also enjoying a nice beer and music of course. At the same time, I received the chance to discuss a previous experience with the main man behind the counter, to which some interesting reveals surfaced.

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            To expound (probably not the right word, don’t care) on this, one of my recent attempts to connect with Tollefson took me to Fulton, which I only found out upon getting there that the truck had cancelled due to mixed scheduling issues. With the way employees had reacted, it (almost) translated as a last-minute thing; as my own nerves with cancelling Food Trucks were a bit high at the time, my emotions got the better of me and I sent a noticeably frustrated message Tollefson’s way on Facebook.

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            Apparently, though, the “truck” owner had actual given their notification for cancelling a week beforehand, even sending at least one or more other notes to ENSURE they apologized and understood the situation. Yet despite that Fulton themselves never put any notification of the cancelling for customers (neither did Tollefson, but they’re now aware and working on this), and it seems they did not fully communicate this to other employees, thus not helping to ease a somewhat frustrating situation to those customers coming on that particular day.

            I just wanted to make sure I put that up there, not only as my own formal apology to Tollefson for the message I sent but also as an awareness to others towards certain “possible actions” taken by those which Tollefson has interacted with.

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            Back to why we’re here, though, to explore this Truck. Tollefson, as one would hope, basically just takes all their popular protein items, grills them up “fresh,” and offers them to the crowd. One can get their Smoked Link, Hot Dog, Pork Pattie, and Smoked Pork Chop, along with their own made Pulled Pork and a Double Burger.  

            They do offer a Veggie Option of course, basically a Portabella Sandwich with peppers and other little things. Though of course I’m goin’ here for some of that Meat, and it’s about time I finally got there.

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Food: 6

            My first grab here was their Pulled Pork, which was surprisingly Asian Style, piled on a simple, untoasted yellow bun. The meat itself is quite tasty, the “asian” flavor doesn’t come through too much when eating as a whole, but just enough to fill out the flavor, keep the meat a little rich and moist, and overall create that “balance” a good pulled pork has before toppings.

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            As for the toppings, one has quite the selection; which is guarded by a big stuffed pig. A bottle of Kettle Creek’s nice, tangy BBQ is joined by Tollefson’s own Raspberry-Balsamic Reduction and the basic Mustard-Ketchup deal. This is joined by some pickle, chopped onions, and an “Asian Slaw” which wasn’t really a slaw, but was VERY tasty. For preparation purposes, it was more of a saurkraute-veggie-pickled mix with a bit of Rice Vinegar and maybe other Asian mix-ins that, though not reminiscent of the name, made for a crisp, tart, delicious little topping. Using that and the BBQ sauce, the Pulled Pork pulled itself to a very enjoyable experience.

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            This and a beer kept me stuck at the Brewery for quite a while, so another trip back to the Grill was almost mandatory. Thought I’d try their Pork Pattie, which they also served on that same, thick, untoasted (or warmed) bun. The patty itself had been sitting on the grill’s warm spot for who-knows-how-long, leaving a thin, completely cooked through piece of sorta-spiced ground pork that dearly cried for much moisture. Ultimately it was almost reminiscent of something I might find in a gas station if they had served a pork patty. Pickles and some BBQ sauce helped a bit.

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            As for other items, Dogs, Links, and the Smoked Pork are only as good as we know from buying them. I will say, though, I saw someone with the Burger, the meat of which was completely grey and cooked through. Two flat, quarter pound patties, which didn’t even look moist. And once again, as with all items, no toasting of buns. A bit sad to see…

Holdability: 8.5

           All items are very holdable, I mean they’re tight Dogs and Sandwiches, though they require two hands due to the basket always served with them.

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Price: 8

             Smaller items at $5, a Hot Dog at $4, $7 for the Veggie and $8 for all the bigger items. The addition of Bacon and Cheese to any item costs extra; not much for cheese but $2 for Bacon. A decent little range for product pricing.

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Speed: 9

           Mostly instantaneous, almost all of their items being cooked beforehand and held warm to be casually scooped into one of those untoasted buns. The one exception, of course being the Smoked Pork Chops, which they cook to order; it supposedly takes 7 minutes. Not sure if the burgers also get some cooking, are kept on a grill, or stay in a warming pan as well.

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The TOE: 5

             I won’t lie, it does sorta feel like something one might visit at a State Fair or Market or other event; though Dogs and such can be good, it’s still just a big cart selling Dogs and a couple Ground Patty Sandwiches with only a few exceptions. There’s some notes of the Street to them, but not too much.

                        Tally: 36.5/50

                       

Final Thoughts

            All those who are familiar with Tollefson’s products are already familiar with their favorites, so one can base their decisions off of that. It’s obviously a great locations for the quick-buy.

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            When looking for something a bit different than the normal products, or just the highlight in general, stick to the Pulled Pork. The Smoked Pork also intrigues me, but I actually wonder if it fully compares as such a simply grilled product. The Smoked Link is also popular, and a good low-price item if you haven’t had it yet. But no matter what you buy, make sure you dress it heavily; they all need some of that “Slaw,” or BBQ sauce, or whatever you like.

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            Ultimately, though, besides the Pulled Pork, there isn’t too much I feel that stands out from other Trucks.