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