Saturday, December 31, 2011

On Deck Sports Bar's Infinite Dissapointment

SHEEESH; While burger shopping the area a while back, I found On Deck. Located on the upper floor of it's faux posh building in The Pearl, with quite the expanse of rooftop seating, this joint's menu looked so amazing I almost jammed inside to burger-up right then and there. Sadly (for me) it was a game night and thus loud as all heck and packed to the rafters. I vowed to come back, and two burger blogs later, I did. Unfortunately my experience here was marred by my own expectations, which I had built up over a few weeks. Let me tell you all about it...

BURGER; When I spotted the juicy lucy burger on the menu a few weeks back, I knew what future On Deck held for me. It wanted to squirt hot cheese into my gaping maw. And I wanted to let it. What arrived before me after my anticipatory wait was a plain white roll, one limp green leaf, brown at it's edges, a pale, mealy tomato and thick slices of white onion. The beef was cheap. I was terribly afraid after a few bites that I may break a tooth on a floating bone shard or formidable chunk of well done gristle. While my burger offered an acceptable amount of gooey american cheese buried in it's overcooked meatwad, my companion was nearly halfway through his burger before he hit cheesy paydirt, and when he found that cheese, it was such a paltry amount that he actually considered sending the whole thing back. Hunger got the best of him and he powered through, with the frown of a man done wrong by a burger. These burgers were not made with love or respect and it showed.

FRIES; Frozen, run of the mill fries. Absolutely nothing memorable about them. The salad was a handful of chopped romaine with a couple of sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots.

SERVICE; Cheery if not perfectly attentive. This is a loud, sports bar, and even on a lazy afternoon when the Ducks or the Beavers or the Blazers arent playing on one of the trillion flat screens that literally consume the entire place, those televisions will still be screaming at you the entire time you're there. Pearl District dwelling sports fans, as I'm sure you already know, this seems like a great place to scream at your fave team and commiserate over brews, but only order the burger if you're too drunk to give a rats ass about what it tastes like. Full Bar, kid friendly in designated areas.

WHERE; 910 NW 14th Avenue, Portland, OR

Monday, December 19, 2011

Retro Boozing and Modern Burger Eating at Kay's Bar and Grill on Milwaukee

OVERVIEW; Recommended by the matriarch of my favorite family of foodies, Ms Jody Hayes, I could not freaking wait to check out this Sellwood dive bar. Kay's is perched on the preciously retro corner of Milwaukee and Bybee, with a big nostalgic, neon sign and lit-from-within rounded glass brick enclaves. Upon entry, you get a full-face-blast of 1934 dive bar, nothing forced or faux about it. Faced with such a formative, distinctly old-school dive , I could not have predicted the modern burger miracle I was about to deal with.

BURGER; 1/2 lb of hand formed Cascade Natural beef, cooked just a little past med. rare, topped with that messy jewel of burger consumption, shredded iceberg lettuce, with a fat hunk of red tomato and a fistfull of caramelized onion. From bite one until we were halfway through the beast, my companion and I communicated exclusively through moans of satisfaction and ecstatic eye-rolls. The sesame brioche bun (I suspect from Grand Central Baking Co.) had a whisper of a grill to it, and it's sweet airy flavor was refreshing after all the cibatta rolls and potato buns that Portland burgers seem to fancy lately. The coup de grace was the addition of "Oregonzola", a local gorgonzola so creamy and delicate it will shake your faith in store bought blue cheese for life. I opted for the basic burger with a few additions. My companion added sauteed jalapenos and grilled portabella mushrooms to his basic burger and when asked if he enjoyed his creation, words failed him and he just feverishly nodded and gave two thumbs up.

FRIES; Shoestring fries cooked to death. The addition of gravy and cheese curds, a-la-poutine, just overwhelmed my plate. Who needs a half a pound of ground beef and a pile of gravy soaked cheese fries? The coleslaw however was a borderline revelation. It was a light and well thought-out compliment to the monster burger. I suggest choosing the coleslaw with your burger and sharing a plate of poutine. But have an appetite for gods sake, because I just recommended a crap-load of food.

SERVICE; The one bartender was a ray of sunshine. We were her first customers of the day, and she was just as attentive and sweet when we got there as when we left the quickly filling bar. Full bar, great selection of local beers (Fort George IPA! Huzzah!)

WHERE; 6903 SE Milwaukee, Portland. Kay's Facebook Page. Kays Menu
Kay's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Freeballing at Mash Tun Brewpub

SAY WHAT?; Located just off Alberta, this faux-dive has the all the makings of a sweet little neighborhood bar. Though I once experienced a veggieburger here that I feel gross just thinking about (it was like a mashed potato burger, and if that sounds good to you, imagine it bad), I was open to taking on their meat burger. And, it just happens to be (sorta) in my neighborhood.

BURGER; A thick juicy 1/2 lb of hand formed cascade beef. This burger was so juicy that my first bite resulted in a savory burger ejaculate spurting across the table on to my companions plate. Yea, I know, totally sexy, right? I added a thick slice of white cheddar. The fat leaves of green leaf and wide slices of tomato and red onion were all fresh and crisp. However, something was lacking from this burger. I'm not sure if it was the light seasoning in the patty, the uninspired and/or nonexistant dressing, or the boring kaiser roll. Despite these shortcomings, I recommend this as a solid neighborhood brewery burger.

FRIES; House cut, typical bar fries. They were cooked very well, so if you like your fries brunette rather than blonde, you'll be stoked. Nicely salted and well portioned.

SERVICE; If you prefer your meat cooked rare or medium rare, be sure to let your server know, otherwise prepare for medium meatwads. Though it didn't really bother me, a lady server's pendulous breasts were unfettered. Through her thick sweater, her turkey thermometers were gesturing a big hello to the world. I think stuff like that's funny, and some people want nothing to do with stuff like that, but if stuff like that's your bag, and you like fat burgers, you may find a visit to Mash Tun very necessary. Full Bar, big patio.

WHERE; on Alberta Street & 22nd Ave at: 2204 NE Alberta Street, Portland.

Mash Tun Brewpub on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sasquatch Brewery Featuring The Star of Finding Bigfoot (Coming This January to Animal Planet, Check Your Local Listings)

DID YOU FIND BIGFOOT?; Nah, just a couple of footprints. In fact, I was admittedly disappointed with the marked absence of any Bigfoot memorabilia. Arriving with Clifford Barackman (pictured) of Finding Bigfoot exacerbated that disappointment. After a revelatory conversation with the bar/restaurant's owner, I have little faith in this fabulously located joint's authority to own the term "Sasquatch" to describe anything that's happening in their establishment. I will not, however, let the sad lack of Squatchy collectables color my review of what is a dang fine burger.

BURGER; Hand formed, beautifully seasoned 1/2 lb patties served on what has become the Portland standard, a starchy potato bun. While my companions both ordered, and were satisfied with, basic burgers, I opted for a seasonal special; a patty smothered in a seasonal squash compote, with a few leaves of butter lettuce and bacon. The compote was cloyingly sweet, and had I not removed the bacon, the salty smoke would have been a fine balance.The bun would have benefited from a quick grill, a little crispy, buttery edge to contrast against it's thick chewiness. In time I have no doubt that this burger will be a best-burger-in-Portland contender, but not quite yet.

FRIES; House cut, crispy and well salted. Also served in a great portion. Not a huge, mind-boggling pile of fries, but a serviceable amount that everyone at the table was able to polish off without feeling like Bigfoot might feel after he (or she!) eats a full grown elk.

SERVICE; With a smile! I pitied our servers for a couple of reasons; Sasquatch Brewery is not yet cleared by Oregon to brew beer, and I cant imagine that's fun to explain to every customer, also try explaining to the star of a show called "Finding Bigfoot" why there's no Sasquatch whatsoever in the entire Sasquatch Brewing Company.Wine and beer bar with some great local selections.

WHERE; 6440 SW Capitol Hwy. Portland

ABOUT OUR GUEST; Cliff Barackman is one of the 4 stars of Finding Bigfoot, airing this January on Animal Planet. Follow his awesome Blog; North American Bigfoot and check out his website, featuring a database of Bigfoot sightings
Sasquatch Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

They Say The Neon Lights Are Bright on Broadway Brewery's Windows

BUT IS THERE MAGIC IN THE AIR?; No, and there isn't an ounce of camp in the joint. It's just a little neighborhood brewpub with a few acceptable brews and a typical brewery menu. It's location, just a few blocks from Skyline Burgers, is right in the hardened artery of the Northeast known as NE Broadway. Surrounded by such fantastic gems as Thatch Tiki Bar, The Swift Bar ( I wrote a song about their fondue fries) and The Cadillac Cafe, you'd be right to think that this brewery is worthy of it's neighbors, but while the beer may hit the spot, the burger probably wont.

BURGER; I have had the brewery burger here before and I don't recall any part of it. Bad sign. On this visit, I ordered the special, a 1/2 lb of Piedmont beef, a (supposedly) house made bbq sauce, topped with a beer battered onion ring. I did in fact receive all of those things. The huge hunk of beef was grilled strait from the freezer and overcooked, robbed of any of the flavor the good folks at Piedmont Ranch worked so hard to impart. The bbq sauce was frugal. A sparse squirt from a squeeze bottle was more for decoration than anything else. The onion ring, lettuce onion and tomato were serviceable. Unless I'm dining at an establishment that is focused on a classic, fast-food style burger, I consider it a bad sign when my server fails to ask me how I would like my meat cooked, as was the case here.

FRIES; You can imagine from the tale of the burger that the fries were less than stellar. Basic, frozen fries, no real redeeming qualities. If they were drowned in chili and cheese, and I was 3 or 4 beers deep, I would be singing a different song. Unfortunately, I was sober, hungry and disappointed.

SERVICE; Girls girls girls. Girls in tight black tops, girls in short black skirts. girls in boots and girls in clogs. I was impressed at the managers ability to zero in on the exact type of lady he or she finds most attractive and hire 25 of her. She's a fine sever, but you can tell she's just saving up for massage classes or grad school. Full bar. Kid friendly.

WHERE; 1700 NE Broadway Portland
Broadway Grill & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Juicy Lucy's Ellusive Food Truck Breaks My Heart to Pieces

AWWW; Yea, no kidding. After a brief but passionate affair with this food truck last summer, it was suddenly gone from my life. No text message, no email, nothing. Juicy Lucy Truck, I though we had something special. I was prepared to devote my mouth to you. Regardless of your callous termination of our intimate relationship, I still want to shout from the mountaintops what an amazing burger you were.

BURGER; Classic Minneapolis Juicy Lucys call for a beef patty stuffed with molten cheese, preferably American, with cheddar an acceptable alternative. What set this charming food truck apart from it's mid-west counterpart was the tender, pillow talk details, such as zucchini pickles and a sweet homemade 1000 Island dressing that took the idea of mixing relish, ketchup and mayonnaise to an almost erotic level. A little yelping proved my point, with not one rating under 4 stars. Most reviewers not only wrote long, overly personal reviews but also gave Juicy Lucy a 5 star rating.

FRIES; Did they serve fries?? I will never know!!

SERVICE; It's either one dude in a truck or two dudes in a truck. But they're gone now (le sigh)

WHERE; My dreams, now and forever.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stick Your Mouth On Dick's Kitchen

DRINK FOR EVERY DOUBLE ENTENDRE; From the walls stare the heads of many famous Dicks; Dick Nixon, Dick Tracy, and Dick Van Dyke to name a few. This motif is coupled with a "stone age diner" ideal they are establishing with their health-centric menu. Dick's beef is of the highest quality, locally farmed and always grass fed. This in particular is not unique for a Portland burger, but the methodology is. Research has shown that an organic, balanced carnivorous diet without processed food, sugar, dairy and gluten can reduce inflamation and some metabolism related health concerns. Yes y'all, Dick's science informed us that we need to eat more awesome burgers. I respect Dick, his powerfully health concious menu, and his reverence for meat.

BURGER; Unbeatable patties. Hand formed balls of strait-up love. You can literally taste how good this cow's life was. This post will concern itself mainly with the Zissou Burger. This patty has had the fortunate experience of having onions smashed into it. Then some local fungus and some house made pickles rolled up into the scenario and posted up under a swiss cheese umbrella. Then this ragtag bunch teamed up with a soft, butter grilled potato bun, some crisp, iceberg lettuce and a wild little tomato. Seared in cast iron skillets and cooked to order, aside from one experience with not-quite rehydrated mushrooms, I can strongly recommend this burger.

FRIES; A fun take on traditional diner fries, these fresh yukon gold or sweet potato "air baked" fries (fries cooked in a convection oven) are easily as tasty as diner fires covered in salty grease. Optional dipping sauces include wasabi aioli and Cambodian garlic sauce. Dick's side orders are solid throughout, with their weekly specials being persistently fantastic.

SERVICE; Totally fine in every way. A handful of cheeky cocktails that masquerade as milkshakes. Beer and wine. Oh, and the malteds are on point.

WHERE; 3312 SE Belmont Street, Portland and a new location at 704 NW 21st Ave, Portland
Dick's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The $350,000 Synthetic Beef Burger. Weird or Gross?

First of all, somebody needs to get me one of these burgers! Second of all, I know it must taste like juicy, beef flavored styrofoam! Third of all, what is the vegetarian response to the question of synthetic meat? This recent article on Gizmodo outlines the groundbreaking science behind "in-vitro meat" or meat grown without the animal, a technology that, with cultivation, could grow to usurp the current farmed-meat industry, providing higher quality meats for much lower costs. Of course the question of quality, heritage and diversity of flavors and textures for the connoisseur must be answered. But for the chicken nugget and whopper consuming American masses, this could be the best thing since the McRib, which, lets face it, is pretty friggin close to synthetic meat.


Bridgeport Brewery and What I Can Only Assume is an Overpriced Donkey Show

OH, COME ON; Cavalia, Cirque Du Soleil's newest spectacular is attracting affluent horse enthusiasts from all over the tri-county area. It's stark white tent glowing beneath the Fremont Bridge like a chimerical used tissue attracted me as I ambled around the Pearl District. I repeatedly wondered aloud how hard it could really be to sneak in while I unconsciously zombie walked toward it. Thankfully the smell of beef char and fresh beer emanating from the queerly tucked away Bridgeport Brewery snapped me out of Cavalia's spell and probably saved me from a hard-to-explain arrest.

BURGER; Of the 5 burger options, I settled on the basic burger, figuring it would give me the best insight into the burger strength of the brewpub. The wheat bun was just a tiny but stiff, not quite stale but particularly close. The 1/2 pound of cascade natural beef was right in the dead center of the road, provoking no soft, happy moans or eye-rolls. Bread and butter pickles, fresh from a plastic jug, one mealy, insignificant slice of tomato, red onion and green leaf lettuce graced the white cheddar topped patty. The basic burger was disappointingly, well, basic.

FRIES; Frozen, generic fries, with no remarkable attributes, other than price-point perhaps. I would avoid them. We supplemented our meal with a roasted beet and hazelnut spinach salad that was prepared beautifully, and leads me to believe that maybe this is not the brewery to be ordering burgers and fries in...

SERVICE; Great servers with fun, sunny attitudes. We arrived at peak Saturday night rush time, and though we didn't receive ultimate service (I hate waiting for water refills), I thought everyone worked together fairly well and all in all our experience was pleasant. When our bill arrived, a brochure for Cavalia was inserted in the guest-check sleeve. One of the promotional quotes read "The world's best show about horse love" which is why I named this post what I named it.

WHERE; 1313 NW Marshall Street, Portland
Bridgeport Brewpub & Bakery on Urbanspoon

BarBar, Best Burger West of Mississippi

OH SNAP; BarBar, the new(ish) incarnation of the Mississippi Studios restaurant half, is delivering fat balls of awesome grease and cheese into your face and the faces of your loved ones. Their fast food-esque paper wrapped burgers and fresh cut fries are seriously similar to fast food industry luminaries In-N-Out, a parallel made even more parallel-like when you see their menu, styled almost identically to In-N-Out's famously short menu. Of course there are a few surprising vittles on the BarBar menu that make it truly unique, but that's not what were here to talk about, we're here to talk about burgers. So brace your face.

BURGER; These joy bringing burgers are cooked to resemble the classic fast food burgers of days gone by. They're stacked either 1 or 2 patties high, dripping with American cheese and "special sauce", bursting with shredded lettuce, onion and a sweet/tart tomato relish, and smooshed beautifully between two perfectly butter-grilled potato buns. The burger patties are 1/3 lb, pressed thin and wide, and cooked medium well. Perfect for lazy afternoon lunches with your friends who also relax on lazy afternoons with burgers in their mouths.

FRIES; Shoestring cut potatoes carrying the trifecta of greasy, salty,and crispy that true fry aficionados are contentedly nodding about as they read this. Onion rings are another fun, classically greasy option. The portions are huge, so make sure to wash your hands because you better be sharing.

SERVICE; Generally hit or miss. On show nights, especially summer evening shows on the patio, get ready to settle in for a while. Servers can be either snarky and jaded or sweet and attentive, typical for staffs serving this particular young, tattooed, hip contingent. Full bar, great cocktails. Kid friendly patio.

WHERE; 3939 N. Mississippi, Portland
Bar Bar on Urbanspoon