Friday, August 15, 2014

Portland Burger Week; The Rialto

The Rialto has been after me for ages to write about their burgers. Somehow, it always just seemed a little too out of the way, or little too noisy or a little too, I dont know, full of neon beer signs and sports fans. If that makes me a snob, I'm okay with that. Luckily, the sweet spot in the deep dark underground below the Rialto houses the Jack London Bar, a complete 180 from the upscale-ish sports bar above. It's sticker covered walls, dusty old couches and little beatnik-esque stage are straight out of a 90's grunge rock themed rom-com.  That is very much a scene I can get down with.

Burger: This was my first full size burger of burger week. And it was also the first burger I wished was half the size. All of Rialto's burgers are a half pound of fresh ground chuck, and this basic fella was smothered in white cheddar, sloppily dressed with ketchup, mustard and mayo and topped with romaine, tomato, red onion and pickles. All of it was held together by a serviceable potato bun. The burger was about as basic as they come, and cooked a little hard for our taste. Bottom lime, it's should always be a five dollar burger. But if Rialto or Jack London is your favorite kind of bar then this burger will do you up just fine. Side note; best damn onion rings I've had in a long, long time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Portland Burger Week: North Light

North Light is part of the newest wave of Mississippi /Williams development; tucked into the ground floor of a shiny new tower of condos. If you happen to be a resident in of one of these shiny new condos, then North Light is a really convenient place to do some midday patio drinking. The menu is that "new twist on Classic American" menu that seems so popular in or near new condo developments. It fits well within the changing landscape of the Mississippi/Williams 'hood. Feel about that however you will.

Burger; North Light's burger week contribution was stuffed with Wisconsin cheese curds and topped with what was intended to be kimchi aioli but was really just a scant tablespoon of a tolerably dry kimchi. The burger was a bit more medium than we love, and the first bite divulged a tart snap of molten curds that were just short of enough to balance the burger. My hope is that North Light will recreate this as a full size burger for their everyday menu, with enough cheese and kimchi to live up to it's potential. This city might not need another frigging luxury condo but it sure as hell needs a decent Juicy Lucy.

Portland Burger Week 2014

Portland Burger Week is back! The Portland Mercury sponsored event is looking bigger and badder than last year, with nearly twice the burger contributions! This year's participants are:


2454 E Burnside
Daily 11am-9pm
Ground Laurelhurst Market beef patty on brioche, with shaved char siu pork, spicy Chinese mustard, and crunchy Asian pickles.

Bar Bar 
3939 N Mississippi
Daily 11am-2am
Tender Alessio bun, griddled onions, beef patty, thick cheddar, ketchup. Boom. The stone classic archetype.

Burnside Brewing
701 E Burnside
Mon-Tues 3pm-10pm ,Wed-Sat 11am-12am , Sun 11am-10pm
CLASSIC CHEESEBURGERClassic American cheese cheeseburger, special sauce, sesame seed bun, lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato.. No thrills, just good eats. Make it a double or even triple if you like, and add on a can of Couch Lager for $2, a shot of Beam for $3.
Burnside Brewing

Club 21
2035 NE Glisan
Daily 11:30am-2:30am
Painted Hills ground chuck, bacon, smoked Gouda, lettuce, tomato-bacon jam, & topped with an onion ring.
Club 21

Double Barrel
2002 SE Division
Daily 2pm-2:30am
Painted Hills ground chuck, southern pimento cheese, fried jalapeños, tender bacon.
Double Barrel

Doug Fir
830 E Burnside
Daily 7am-2:30am
Candied bacon, mozzarella cheese, smoked and candied jalapeño aioli, shredded iceberg, 6oz hand-formed Wagyu patty, Portland French Bakery bun.
Doug Fir

Foster Burger
5339 SE Foster
Daily 11am-10pm
1/4-lb beef patty with American cheese, pepperjack cheese, fat and tender bacon, sharp house pickles, and crisp, raw, white onion.
Foster Burger

Hop & Vine (click for review)
1914 N Killingsworth
Mon-Wed 3pm-11pm, Thurs-Fri 3pm-12am, Sat 10am-12am, Sun 10am-11pm
*Available after 3pm every day.
Housemade focaccia, house-cured pork belly, house pickles, tomato jam, fresh aioli, and a char-grilled Nicky USA venison patty.
Hop & Vine

Mi Mero Mole
32 NW 5th
Mon-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat Noon-10pm
*Offer begins at 2pm each day. Available at downtown location ONLY!
Chorizo patty on brioche bun with refried black beans, guacamole, pickled red onions, especial sauce, and bacon-wrapped Hatch chile relleno.
Mi Mero Mole

North Light
3746 N Misissippi
Mon-Fri 4pm-12am, Sat-Sun 9am-12am
Painted Hills 6oz hand-formed patty (cooked rare or to order and drizzled with brown butter), stuffed with Wisconsin cheese curds, on brown-butter-griddled housemade brioche bun. Topped with garlicky housemade kimchi aioli.
North Light

529 SW 4th
Hand-formed fresh beef patty, with extra-sharp white cheddar and all the classic trimmings, on a fresh potato bun.

Rockin' Robyn's Sassy Burger 
3423 SE Belmont
Wed-Thurs 12pm-7pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-6pm
BUFFALO BURGERGround buffalo patty w/Robyn's signature seasoning blend, peppered bacon, roasted red peppers, smoked Gouda cheese, tomato, a thick slab of white onion, pickles, on a Portland French Bakery brioche bun.
Rockin' Robyn's Sassy Burger

Slowburger (click for review)
2329 NE Glisan
Daily 11am-11pm
BANH MI BURGER (Same as Slow Bar)
Pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, Sriracha mayo,Grand Central brioche bun, thick Painted Hills beef patty.

Slow Bar (click for review)
533 SE Grand
Daily 11:30am-2:30am
Pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, Sriracha mayo, Grand Central brioche bun, thick Painted Hills beef patty
Slow Bar

4605 NE Fremont
Daily 5pm-10pm
THE SMALLWARES CHEESEBURGERFresh ground beef griddled in bacon fat, potato bun, Swiss cheese, tomato, shredded iceberg, shiso, cilantro, crispy fried shallot, sweet chili-ginger special mayonnaise.

Spirit of ’77 *Veggie!*
500 NE MLK
Mon-Fri 4pm-12am, Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-10pm
Housemade veggie patty (black bean, roasted red pepper, spinach, quinoa), roasted red pepper aioli, served on a whole wheat bun.
Spirit of '77

The Station
2703 NE Alberta
Mon-Fri 4pm-Late, Sat-Sun 12pm-Late
Sing it: "(One) all-beef patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickle, and onion on a sesame-seed bun."
The Station

1355 NW Everett Suite 120
Mon-Thurs - 8am - 11pm Fri-Sat 8am - 12am Sun - 8am - 11pm
*Burger Available after 8am.
EASTERN BLOCKLocally sourced natural chuck patty, American cheese, hand-carved pork belly, fried onions/peppers and a tasty house recipe sweet pepper & dill yogurt sauce, all perfectly nestled on one of Tilt's giant, house recipe fresh baked biscuits.

3449 N Anchor
Mon-Thurs 11am-8pm, Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-3pm
Locally sourced natural chuck patty, American cheese, hand-carved pork belly, fried onions/peppers and a tasty house recipe sweet pepper & dill yogurt sauce, all perfectly nestled on one of Tilt's giant, house recipe fresh baked biscuits.

White Owl Social Club *Veggie!*
1305 SE 8th
Daily 3pm-Late
WHITE OWL SOCIAL CLUB HAZELNUT BEET BURGERHouse veggie patty (garlic, almonds, brown sugar, red miso, kosher salt, black pepper, peanut butter, wakame, hazelnuts, quinoa, beets, potato starch, white onion, olive oil), served on a toasted bun with Misonaise, Heidi Ho Monterey Jack, carrot ramps and pea shoots.
White Owl Social Club

Widmer Brothers Pub
929 N Russell
Sun-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-1am
*Offer begins at 2pm each day.
6 oz Snake river farms American Kobe beef, American cheese, grilled pickled onion, iceberg slaw, fennel-tomato ketchup, grand central potato bun.

All images on this post courtesy of The Portland Mercury.
Widmer Brothers Pub

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Portland Burger Week: Slow Bar

Slow Bar is the first place I think to recommend when anyone asks me where to grab a burger. And bahn mi is a Vietnamese sandwich I used to get in Anaheim, CA that I dream of to this day. Naturally the combination of these two things had my salivators salivating. I mean, Slow Bar kills it every time, right? Right? RIGHT?

Well, not really. The savory signature Slow Bar beef was significantly less savory than usual, the heavy slaw mixture that is probably the most recognizable feature of the bahn mi (beside the namesake bread) was conspicuously light. And the sesame brioche was far too sweet, it quickly became cloying. This was a very obvious attempt at a simple, easy to churn out burger-week burger, and the unfortunate result is the best burger in town phoning it in. Hold up though, Slow Bar crushed burger week last year, so they get a pass this year.  I still love Slow Bar and I will continue to tell everyone to always go there. They transcend burger week.

Portland Burger Week is an annual event that showcases some of Portland's favorite burgers. Participating bars, restaurants and cafes offer specially crafted burgers for $5 each. You can see a full list of Burger Week offerings here

Monday, August 11, 2014

Portland Burger Week; The Hop and Vine

Hop and Vine is a little tap room/bottle shop on North Killingsworth. It's the kind of neighborhood place that's popular with the locals and kind of happened upon by everyone else. It's gorgeous, with a sunny back patio and a draft list to write home about, but what's really up is this burger week contribution. If this is any indication of their everyday burger making prowess, this is not the place to sleep on. I'm talking to you everyone who does not live in North Portland.

Burger: This venison burger was cooked so rare it practically walked into my mouth. And I loved it. The thick slab of pork confit, the zucchini pickles, the fresh frisse and house made focaccia were all so well thought out. Given the savory weight of the confit and the buttery, rich, rare-as-rare-can-be venison, Hop and Vine constructed a complete burger that was pleasantly smaller that what you would normally see outside of burger week. I walked out with a spring in my step, rather than a 10 lb dumbbell in my colon. Thank you Hop and Vine, it's like you predicted the havoc we all intend to wreak on our bodies this week and you planned accordingly.

Portland Burger Week is an annual event that showcases some of Portland's favorite burgers. Participating bars, restaurants and cafes offer specially crafted burgers for $5 each. You can see a full list of Burger Week offerings here

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The American Local; Weak Necked Heaven/Possible Snoresville

The American Local is one of many exciting eateries on SE Division (driving down that street sucks a lot more than it did 5 years ago but that's beside the point I guess). If you can withstand the intoxicating aromas of Pok Pok or the even more intoxicating muddy drug water at Bula Kava you'll only get as far as The American Local before you and your olfactories are bewitched by the saporous bouquets and cacaphonous festivity within. The community table layout and wide open kitchen is warm and genial. There's an exciting energy that buzzes with Portland pride, the chefs toss fragrant dishes with wide smiles and the servers laugh heartily with the patrons.  It's got that tongue in cheek "high concept-low-brow" approach that is so popular these days but it's execution is razor sharp. Can you tell how much I like this place or what?
Burger: My first bite was heaven. True eye rolling, deep  moaning, weak necked heaven. The burger is simple, letting each component compliment the others without getting too fussy. Now, I'm a champion of simplicity in burgers, I like the taste of beef  between fluffy brioche without a whole lot of brouhaha happening in between. The American Local nailed it HOWEVER, by bite 4, I was bored. Let this be the case against oversimplifying. There should be something to break up the savory meat, airy bread, bit of greenery situation. My utter veneration of the burger that seduced me for two bites was whisked away like a brief (like, seriously brief) passionate love affair. I would recommend the burger, but I would recommend it be shared alongside a few of the seasonal menu's fantastic looking small plates. That way you get all the soft weird moans and none of the equally weird yawn snores.

Fries: Fresh cut Kennebec potatoes, fried up and salted perfectly. Exactly what you expect and nothing more. Served with a side of *special sauce 

Service: Great! Attentive, personable, funny and very easy going. I kinda wanted to high five our server on the way out, he gave us serious high five vibes. Oh and take note, beers are overpriced and under-poured, so yeah... just an FYI

Where: 3003 SE Division

* I'm pretty sure it's just ketchup mixed with mayo and mustard

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sports, Dorks and The Jolly Roger

At a dinner party a while back, a fellow Californian recommended The Jolly Roger to me with the thrilling claim, "it's just like In n' Out." After a certain amount of years without a beloved Double Double, a person might develop some hallucinatory oral hokum regarding what's arguably the best fast food burger on earf because frankly, The Jolly Roger's resemblance to In n' Out pretty much starts and ends with "they both serve burgers."
The Jolly Roger is a reliably divey sports bar, co-opted, like so much of the SE, by soft pastel grunge hipsters. However, visiting on a Saturday afternoon was a lesson in maintaining a mellow constitution while all of the airborne sports balls being telecast around us worked an entire bar full of jersey clad fanboys and girls into a frenzy (I had the distinct feeling that I was in Beaverton all of a sudden - where was all the pastel soft grunge?).

Burger; Well, dude I met once at a dinner party, these burgers are NOT comparable to  In n' Out. Just no. Maybe if I hadn't gotten my breadbasket all juiced up for something "animal style" I wouldn't have had such an adverse reaction. Put simply, The Jolly Roger is a very basic bar burger. The beef is slapped on a flat top, presumably from frozen, leaving the eater with the distinct essence of 100 years of greasy frost. The gluey american cheese felt more synthetic than it should have and the shredded iceberg and tomato both suffered for it. The dense potato bun was the best thing about the burger, which makes me a little sad. All this being said, if you're hammer-wasted with all your pastel soft grunge friends and you need to soak up some liqueur post haste, this burger will be the best thing you ever ate (probably, because that how drunkenness works).

Fries: Frozen, thick cut steak fries that also have an over-processed feeling to them that is mildly disturbing. But again, the drunker you are, the better these probably taste.

Service; Actually pretty solid. Our server handled our snooty behinds with ease while she juggled an entire bar full of revved up sports heads. It was impressive.

Where: 1340 Se 12th Ave