We were bummed when we found out Ciao! Italian Eatery was closing its doors this past fall, so when we heard a new restaurant opened in the same Main Street Square location, we had to try it. It was even more exciting when someone told us it was by the same ownership as Tally’s Silver Spoon and Delmonico Grill. If you haven’t had the chance to chat with the man behind the menus, Chef Ben Klinkel, you need to make it happen.
He’s so good, in fact, that they named the restaurant after him. Klinkeltown is so new, their Facebook still says “coming soon” in the “about” section. As we walked in, we noticed there were two ways of experiencing the “grilled cheese and burger joint.” One side is a sit-down section with modern tables and booths, and the second is a place to order to-go meals.
Nothing about this venue feels like fast food, by any means. The modern space is mixed with rustic barn wood strewn throughout the walls, on industrial pipe shelving, and hanging as wooden-beam light installations with exposed wire and Edison Bulbs. Klinkeltown also has a very strong color theme that almost gives a high school pride feel with maroon and yellow-gold on the walls, in the marketing materials, and as a huge part of the servers’ aprons and uniforms. There were some vintage athletic print canvases and also a Varsity Letterman Jacket in one corner, so we’re probably not far off.
Novice detective work aside, we were on the cusp of being hangry and sat down in a cozy booth facing the bar (my favorite). We automatically ordered two domestic beers and one Crow Peak Brewing Company selection.
What do you do when you’re starving and see a shake menu? You order that first. Luckily my tablemates were on the same page, and we requested a vanilla shake (can’t go wrong with an oldie, but a goodie) with cheesecake bites. It came out (we shared), and I felt like I was 10 years old and had done something mediocre to deserve this. The homemade treat had a perfect whip cream/shake ratio, and was light, but had powerful flavoring. We all had the similar concern that we wished it had more cheesecake bites, since finding one was every fourth bite. It’s a good problem to have.
Chef Klinkel is known for sourcing as much local ingredients as he can in each of his establishments, and the menu itself showed just that. This “burger joint” had a wide variety of gourmet burgers, and our server recommended the Frenchman. This beauty includes a 1/3 pound burger, prosciutto, grilled pear, brie, port reduction, and caramelized onion. I was a little hesitant with the pear, but wanted to try something new.
Next section: The grilled cheese. We tried the PETA, which has broccoli, cauliflower, roasted red pepper, onion, carrot, olives, brussel sprouts, and basil mixed into a spread. This is combined with Havarti, arugula, lemon aioli, and is all placed in between whole wheat bread. Our server also recommended the popular Caprese, which includes mozzarella, basil, and tomato jam in between sourdough bread.
The meals appeared shortly after and were presented on nice cafeteria trays and wrapped in adorable tin foil. One of my co-workers huffed at my hasty blunder when I got excited and unwrapped the burger, revealing a branded “K” for Klinkeltown on the bun.
“You’re supposed to eat it in the wrapper,” he said.
Oops. We cut it into several pieces, and the burger had already soaked the bottom bun. This could be point #5 of why I’m supposed to keep the burger in said foil. And juicy it was. We had to eat ours with a fork and knife since I had messed it up, but it was scrumptious. The pear was soft, so I didn’t even remember it was in there, minus the sweet taste mixed with the salty flavors.
This is where we made another error. We ate the best thing first (well, according to two of the three of us). Before we dove into the grilled cheese sandwiches, we tried each side. The tater tots were seasoned to perfection (it almost reminded me of Taco John’s Potato Olés) and were super crispy. Second runner up were the homemade Klinkel Chips, seasoned with salt and vinegar. We enjoyed the skinny fries, which almost felt “hard” when you bit into them. It was actually pretty good.
Now onto the grilled cheese. We all (well, not me) love cheese. But there was way too much. The PETA was supposed to have all of these ingredients, and I could barely taste them to the point where when I typed up the menu for this story, I was shocked most of them were in there. Olives?! I wish I had tasted olives. Same with the Caprese. I could taste the basil a bit more, but the amount of cheese was intimidating to eat.
Never say no to the shake, and always order it first. The burgers are amazing here, and I can’t wait to try more. I love the location and the fact that it’s a gourmet, farm-to-table twist of what could have been just another “burger joint.” Knowing the team, and knowing how new it is, I have all of the confidence that the grilled cheese will be awesome the next visit.
I love the concept of the space, especially as part of Main Street Square. If you live in town, it’s a great option for a sit-down meal or for a to-go order during the workday. For visitors, it’s an opportunity to try new takes on burgers and grilled cheese (there are classic options as well, and they have a Kids Meal section). I can imagine after an afternoon chasing your children through the interactive fountain that a beer on the patio is well deserved.
With a wide variety of fresh ingredients, and the fact that it was created by Chef Ben Klinkel and his team, the price seems right. Shakes are $6 plus $1 per topping, but it’s so worth it.
The burger deserves all of the checks. I can’t wait to order another shake. It’s the grilled cheese that needs a little tweaking (like, just chill a bit on the cheese). I’m excited to come back and try the salads, Klinkeltown Wings, and onion rings. I know one of my tablemates will wreck the cheese plate.
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Average Price Per Meal: $—$10 & under; $$—$20 & under; $$$—$30 & under; $$$$—over $30 | Taste ++++
It's the Facts
The wooden hand hewn beams above the bar are from the Black Hills Passion Play that ran for 70 years in Spearfishs’ outdoor amphitheater.
Black Hills Barnwood Creations made all of the condiment caddies and supplied the decorative barn wood from south dakota barns.
The basketball photos displayed are of Benjamin’s father, Glen Klinkel, and his grandfather, Merle Klinkel.