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Gold Dust Cafe

Before closing its doors in May, Jaspers Cafe in Jacksonville was a favorite Saturday-afternoon tradition for my husband and me.

Nothing says "weekend" like the burger, fries and milkshake that keep you on the treadmill the rest of the week. When The Jacksonville Review reported that a new gourmet-burger establishment had set up at the all-too-perfect location in downtown Jacksonville, I was eager to continue our Saturday burger rendezvous.

Bobbie and Matt Misener opened the Gold Dust Cafe June 6, just in time for Britt Festivals' season when concert-bound crowds pour into Jacksonville. The couple also owns a full-service restaurant, Stage Stop Cafe, in Nevada.

Matt Misener's father grew up and is buried in Jacksonville, so the location held sentimental value for him. He continues to manage the Nevada location while his wife keeps shop in Jacksonville. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I decided to try the new cafe with my parents-in-law and husband, Sean.

Only minor changes to the small seating area distinguished Gold Dust from Jaspers. Bobbie and Matt Misener had preserved the cafe's Old West theme but added a few gold-mining relics to reflect its new name.

The cafe's menu on a blackboard high above the counter touted more than a dozen gourmet burgers, several sandwiches, three wraps and shrimp and chicken-tender baskets. Although the burgers resemble Jaspers', each is Matt's original recipe.

Burgers are $7.95 for a single patty, $9.95 for a double, with the exception of the "golden burger" for a dollar less. Nothing on the menu exceeds $10. Patrons also can opt for the leaner buffalo patty for $2 more.

All entrees are served with a side of fries, potato salad or slaw and a soft drink or bottled water. Sweet-potato fries can be substituted as a side for $1 extra.

At first, I gravitated toward the BLAST (bacon, lettuce, avocado, sprouts and tomato) sandwich, but when I saw my mother-in-law also leaning in that direction, I selected the generic chicken sandwich with a side of sweet-potato fries. Sean asked for the Western burger, and my father-in-law for the grilled turkey melt.

Sean and I also decided to share a blackberry milkshake (20 ounces for $4.75). Shake flavors are as varied as the burgers. There's the basic chocolate, vanilla and berry flavors as well as more exotic mango, pomegranate, mint, cheesecake, coconut, peanut butter and root beer.

While the menu is not so outrageous as Jaspers', whose toppings varied from peanut butter to mango, the Gold Dust Cafe takes a simple approach to burgers while leaving room for a few playful renditions, such as the Ortega, pastrami and blue-cheese burgers.

Our respective burgers were delivered in classic, red, plastic baskets lined with paper.

The BLAST was the hit of the table and definitely a mouthful. Ample portions of each ingredient were layered on the flaky croissant. My mother-in-law remarked that she appreciated the "not-chintzy" bacon strips.

Sean's burger could not have been more "Western" if it had been served in a holster. The burger featured two hand-pressed, lean beef patties, onion rings, strips of bacon, pepper-jack cheese, barbecue sauce and onions.

While my burger hit the spot, it lacked the pizzazz I had anticipated at a gourmet burger joint. It contained a small, but very tender, grilled piece of chicken, a few frills of lettuce and a slice of tomato on a whole-wheat bun. The cheese had been omitted, but the waitress quickly made amends. Additional toppings such as pickles, onions, avocado or a specialty sauce might have helped fill out the sandwich; however, my waistline was grateful for the minimal and lean ingredients.

The turkey melt was served on toasted sourdough bread with bacon and a substantial serving of melted cheddar cheese, which could have been balanced by more turkey. But it was satisfying, nonetheless.

Our blackberry shake was cool and sweet with delicious lumps of vanilla ice cream throughout. It was passed around the table and enjoyed by all.

As we nibbled the last of the fries, the waitress visited our table and others nearby to announce what we owed and that we could pay when ready at the counter. Customers sensitive of money matters may be affronted by this manner of delivery.

Although customers should not arrive at the Gold Dust Cafe in search of Jaspers' quirky creations, the cafe doesn't disappoint, and I will continue to look there for my weekend burger fix.

— Teresa Thomas