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