Wednesday, November 30, 2011
PUT THE FUN BETWEEN YOUR LEGS; That's the general, bike friendly theme of this SE brewery and pub. The Hopworks brand has gained some steam these last few years, with a new "bikebar" opening on NE Williams Ave, right along one of the main corridors for bicycle traffic. With an impressive menu of solid beers, a deep dedication to organic everything, and a burger that's nigh perfection, I can see the HUB brand growing exponentially, and I gotta tell ya, it feels darn awesome to see a local business make good in such a righteous way.
BURGER; Oh yea. A thick, half pound of Painted Hills Natural Beef, cooked to order, served on a cheddar topped kaiser roll. Gorgeous green leaf romaine lettuce, thick, ripe tomato and a measured sliver of paper thin red onion. This burger was juicy, flavorful, and completely satisfying. There was an added element of complexity with the cheddar bun, and it was the only thing that I would change about this burger. The texture of the roll was perfect, and the flavor was sweet, reminiscent of a brioche, so naturally the addition of cheddar to this flavor melody caused the tune to fall a bit flat. Otherwise, I would order this burger again and again.
FRIES; Gorgeous, possibly some of the best in the city. Thick cut and crispy, seasoned deliberately. I can also speak highly of the salad. Like most of their menu items, HUB's salad is organic it's salad dressings are made in-house. You can't lose with either choice.
SERVICE; Admittedly, our service suffered due to a Ducks game, but how mad could we be? In essence, Hopworks is a neighborhood bar, and thus, local game nights are going to dominate the place. We got a free beer after our server became so wrapped up in game time he forgot he was at work. I assume he went to Oregon State, and for all it's worth, I don't care if he shelves his service job for 10 minutes to cheer on his alma mater. Beer bar (no hard stuff), happy hour Monday through Friday. Kid friendly dining room and loft space upstairs with pinball. Patios in the front and rear of the building. Beers to go available (and highly recommended!)
WHERE; Flagship Brewpub 2944 SE Powell Blvd Portland. BikeBar 3947 N. Williams Ave. Portland www.hopworksbeer.com
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
O RLY?; At Skyline's newest outpost on NE Broadway, a 12 foot wall of projected cartoon network welcomed me upon entry, and though it tickled me, it also arose in me a very specific worry; is this a place for kids? The answer is a resounding yes, and the parental units may be disappointed. I deeply hope this place will mature faster than the audience it shares with the cartoon network.
BURGER; Underdeveloped and banal, but with a certain promise. The bun was huge and mealy, completely overwhelming the rest of the ingredients. The beef was overcooked, but not burnt. I ordered the hawaiian burger and was disappointed with a few details (small chunks of pineapple as opposed to a thick, freshly cut ring, heavy onion and sparse, bottled teriyaki sauce). My companion was also bummed out on the mushroom swiss burger's ridiculous amount of mayonnaise. But somehow I get the feeling that with time, this borderline theme restaurant will come into it's own, finding the balance between kiddie burgers and artistic, well thought out burgers for the grown folks. And with a name like Skyline Burgers, they got some proving to do.
FRIES; Again, geared towards a younger set of taste buds. Frozen and fried up crispy, they weren't the most amazing fries, and I probably wouldn't order them again. The salad was friggin hilarious. It was huge, and it came with a sandwich slice of cheddar cheese on top. Otherwise it was a bowl of iceberg salad mix with slices of tomato and cucumber.
SERVICE; I nicknamed our sever "mumble-core" about halfway through our meal. His awkward approach and whispery voice was that of a man who has little to no interest in service. He's probably saving up to tour with his band or surf Malaysia or something. It created an experience that was borderline surreal. Full bar with an adults-only gambling area in the rear that makes the kid-friendly vibe lean into the weird zone.
WHERE; 2200 NE Broadway St Portland,
LOCALS ONLY; From the excess of multicolored Christmas lights on the enormous stone patio to the kinetic dias de los muertos paper-mache art, this place reeked of beach hippy. I wouldn't hold that against this joint, because it wears it's flower child attitude very well. Heavily saturated with the acoustic guitar playing, bald-with-a-ponytail, loveable, non-profit boomer dudes, I recommend against this place if you're a card carrying republican or you're into taking yourself real seriously.
BURGER; Having eaten my body weight in seafood, I was ready for something different. Cafe Mundo's specials included a "rueben burger". As a big fan of the classic rueben, I figured this menu item would be amazing! The house baked rye bun was disappointingly bland with a texture similar to cheap white bread. The 1/3 lb McK Ranch organic beef patty was overcooked, which is damn disrespectful to McK Ranch organic beef. The burger missed the mark, but if there is seitan on the menu in more than one dish, the chef probably doesn't want to cook you a burger anyway. The hubby's fish tacos were dang awesome though. And every longhair in the place looked especially stoked on their world-cuisine.
FRIES; Yea right. The salad was gorgeous. Fresh local field greens, a ripe tomato that must have come from someone's home garden, and the house made poppy seed dressing were all a nice pat on the back after my burger letdown.
SERVICE; Great laid back servers, who are professional and charming, serve a limited amount of pricy craft beers mostly produced locally. The cocktail menu was also a bit steep considering the laid back atmosphere. Apparently hippys only drink top shelf liquor.
WHERE; 711 NW 2nd Court, Newport, OR www.cafemundo.us
Sunday, November 27, 2011
VACATION; The husby and I spent our holiday in the coastal town of Newport, about 150 miles from Portland. We go for the amazing seafood, because most vacations we plan are flavor based. At my absolute favorite sea-shanty fish market restaurant in the world, I was faced with a revelation in the form of a "crab burger". South Beach Fish Market is legendary for their smoked oysters, fresh dungeness crab and their firecraker horseradish cocktail sauce. They are not however, famous for their artfully assembled sandwiches. After spotting the burger on the menu, I vowed to come back the next day, you know, for the blog.
BURGER; A big crabcake on a bun with swiss cheese and ranch dressing (which I wisely opted out of). The crabcake had been frozen, so the sweet dungeness flavor suffered. Limp lettuce, and heavy onion also worked against the delicate deliciousness of the crab. I enjoyed the burger more after I wised up and smeared it with the aforementioned firecracker sauce. I won't get this burger again, but I will eat a half dozen raw oysters, and a crab cocktail, and smoked oysters and a captains platter, and salmon candy , and, well, you get the idea.
FRIES; These frozen crinkle cut throwback fries are undercooked with zero seasoning. Rice is an alternative, but I didn't find that out until our last visit and I was strictly oyster shooting at that point.
SERVICE; Variably jaded 20 something and chipper teenager. Counter service that's fast and, for the most part, friendly. Very limited seating but pretty rapid dining room turnover. Oh, and it's attached to a convenience store so you can accompany your oysters with a Monster Energy Drink or a 4Loko.
WHERE; 3640 S Coast HWY, South Beach, Oregon SouthBeachFishMarket.com
Thursday, November 24, 2011
OVERVIEW; These sloppy, fully loaded burgers are legendary in Washington DC and relativity newly (2003) franchised. This burger is reminiscent of the fabled "In n Out Burger", local to L.A. (my home land, BTW). These fast food alterna-burgers are quick, delicious and heads and tails above any drive through you may find yourself in on your lunch hour. With a secret "verbal-legend" menu sporting around 250,000 variations, this place is a piece of Americana in both meaty-ness and franchise opportunity.
BURGER; Thin patties cooked well done, stacked generously with all your favorite toppings, plus an entire sub-menu of additional toppings, ensure that you get your ultimate burger. The sparkling clean, wide open kitchen lets you into the preparation of your order from the moment the cashier hollers "two patties!!" over her right shoulder.
FRIES; Always local, with a counter-top sign that displays the specific farm that day's batch was sourced from. Cajun is an unimpressive option. And even the small order of fries satiates the fry lust of two adults, and since if you're probably eating the double burger anyway, try to avoid large fry excess.
SERVICE; This is essentially a fast food restaurant. Though it harkens to the idealized version of a middle America burger joint, patronized by, like, Richie Cunningham or something, it is still a fast food restaurant. There are pallets with boxes upon boxes of peanuts everywhere for pre-pig-out snacking, so, unless you're deathly allergic, that's a plus. An appropriate and affordable alternative to Burgerville, when you're feeling both cheap and snobby.
WHERE; Heavy saturation in the suburbs, with an 82nd st location in Portland proper. www.fiveguys.com
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
TIMBER!; An imposing dining area adorned with enormous wood carvings that detail pioneer life in the pacific northwest as well sky high totems welcome to you a little cloud of Portland's fabled "beervana". Deschutes' Portland Brewpub is located in that veritable Bermuda Triangle of tourism known as the Pearl District. Spitting distance from such gotta-see stalwarts as Powells City of Books and Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade, this slice of Oregon pride is highly recommended on your list of places to take your noisy, restless, here-for-the-holidays family.
BURGER; 3 choices, all of them with attributes to beat the band. As per usual, I opt for the classic burger, listed at Deschutes as the Brewery Burger. A juicy, hand formed Coleman Ranch 1/2 lb patty, well seasoned and dripping with Tillamook cheddar supports sweet, ripe tomato, thinly sliced red onion and tender butter lettuce leaves. The bun is house made, with a soft, pillowy texture that compliments everything it's supporting. At 12 bucks, it's a tad pricey, but certainly worth the cost if you care about locally sourced ingredients, especially the beef.
FRIES; Fresh yukon golds or sweet potatoes cooked with care and attention, sourced locally and well seasoned. I enjoy the salad option as well. A heap of beautiful field greens dressed with a beer based house made dressing will bring me joy any day of the week.
SERVICE; Abundant and stoked that you showed up. Beer smart and enthusiastic, these servers are a well oiled machine, keeping beers full, water glasses topped off, and bellies satiated. Very friggin kid friendly with a bar area that is equally as cacophonous as the young nieces and nephews you brought with you. Beer and wine only.
WHERE; 210 NW 11th Ave, Portland www.deschutesbrewery.com
Sunday, November 20, 2011
FOREVAH IS A LONG TIME; Yea, no duh, but I have yet to be done wrong by either Violetta's roaming food cart, "Etta" or their location in Directors Park in SW Portland. It's a beautiful example of Portland local flavors, served in a great casual setting.
BURGER; Beautiful. Violetta's catchy slogan reads "fast-slow-food" (cleverly worded in the shape of the recycling insignia), and though the "fast" part might be a little presumptuous, they really deliver on the "slow" and the "food". But wait, I don't mean you'll be waiting forevah, or that these burgers are pedestrian enough to be referred to simply as food. I mean that this burger is well crafted with fabulous local ingredients, carefully prepared to showcase their respective freshness.
FRIES; Both sweet potato and traditional. And they're great. Waffle fries covered in gorgonzola cheese is a favorite, but they are serious business, so don't go in thinking it's a one man job. It's at least a two person ordeal, but it will bring you two together, so go for it.
SERVICE; Walk up to the counter and be served efficiently and with a huge smile. Grab your own water and/or craft beer bottle and if you're at the Director's Park Location you can either post up in the spare dining room or stretch out on the patio beneath the rainbow of soft neon that illuminates the concrete park below. Or if you opt for the truck version, grab a local soda-pop, pull up some curb/picnic table/park bench and tuck in.
WHERE; 877 sw taylor at sw park, Portland www.violettapdx.com
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?; For months I've been logging burger pics on my facebook account, and for months my homie Zack (author of RADICAL food blog nomoresickfriends) told me I was not a burger professional until I ate a storied "SlowBurger" from the Slow Bar. So I did. Then I went back 3 days later and did it again.
BURGER; On visit one, I had the seasonal special, the "fall slowburger". It was so devastating that upon first bite, I shed a single greasy tear of joy. It was a thoughtfully conceived autumnal burger with edam cheese, procuittio, a cheeky little slaw, and roasted red pepper relish. Poetically seasoned and served perfectly medium rare, I swear I swooned after the first bite.
On visit two I got the signature slowburger. Less devastating, but still pretty earth shaking. It shares many of it's seasonal bro's attributes, but with gyuyere and butter lettuce. Bottom line; It's a delicious burger topped with a stupidly huge onion ring.
FRIES; Pretty dope. But I prefer the salad (local greens with a oh-my-dang-this-is-delicious house vinaigrette and spiced nuts).
SERVICE; Friendly and a little stern too, in that great way that Portland waitstaffs can be. The place is tiny and intimate, and full of "very mature 22 year olds" ( you can read into that any way you want). It's a borderline romantic date spot but it's a dark bar, so if you go alone, don't bring a book.
WHERE; 533 SE Grand Avenue, Portland. slowbar.net
Monday, November 14, 2011
OH REALLY?; On my flagship visit, my high expectations were dashed by a burger that was just too dang messy. The patty was cooked unevenly, resulting in thick medium rare areas and other very well done areas. The accoutrements were sparse, leaving me with more disappointing patty than anything else. HOWEVER, Killer burger was totally redeemed on visit 2! (A good rule to follow is never review anyplace based on one visit, anyone can have a off night) My burger was cooked perfectly, moist and flavorful, with a big pile of delicious toppings, all complimented by a monster bun. I was in legit burger heaven.
BURGER; Big. I mean, really big. At 1/3lb, these patties are wide and generously topped with bacon, cheese and a slew of off-the-wall toppings daring you to handle flavor combinations that really only make perfect sense to the very, very pregnant (peanut butter and pickle burger, nuff said). As per usual, I opt for the classic burger, and I can strongly recommend the "Fun Guy" (mushrooms and swiss) and the "Jose Mendoza" (ortega chiles and jack cheese). Be a legend and order "The Marine" but fair warning, they make you sign a waver first. Apparently it's kinda spicy..
FRIES; I'm a fan. Thick cut, heavily salted and crispier than the twice-fried versions most Portland joints are serving these days. I enjoy a thicker cut fry, thin fries can't withstand the large amounts of condiments I heap upon them. It's like Killer Burger knew I like to shovel ketchup into my face via french fry delivery system and they planed for me to succeed!
SERVICE; Walk up and place your order at a counter, pour your own soda, get your own water and if you run out of napkins, walk your happy ass to the fountain and get a roll of paper towels. The employees are friendly, but don't expect too much, this place is anything but pretentious and it knows it. Shoot, it's proud! I'm all for counter service anyway, I hate waiting for water refills.
WHERE; 4644 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland Killer Burger on facebook
Sunday, November 13, 2011
EASY; Fatback in the ground beef. Fatback is pork fat, and gives the organic, grass fed beef a depth of flavor and a juiciness that is unmatched by 100% beef patties. It does however up the fatty fat fat fat quotient. So finish off the day with some raw cabbage to , um, "facilitate release".
BURGERS; Holy crap, these burgers are so ridiculously delicious, they cannot be stopped. Always perfectly cooked, with great locally sourced accoutrements, on gorgeous house made brioche buns. For the first timer, I recommend the titular Foster Burger, for the daring consumer, go for the burner (be warned-it's crazy spicy, and you may burn out your butthole.). However, if your good looking, tattooed server offers you a daily special, order that. Those are consistently life changing burgers.
FRIES; Yes, they know how to make them. No they don't suck. Yes, they are more or less middle of the road, house cut, twice fried, bar fries. I recommend the back and white fries (doused with truffle oil and served with squid ink aioli, ambitious sounding but surprisingly down to earth)
SERVICE; I've had nothing but good experiences with the staff here. They are attentive and gregarious without being too much of either. Kid friendly with outdoor seating in the warmer months. Rotating local draft beers, and solid cocktail menu. But heed my warning, don't get all power wasted before you get a chance to pound down that burger.
WHERE;5339 SE Foster Road Portland fosterburger.com