Repent Sinner, Put This Burger in Your Face; Church is a new little watering hole on NE Sandy. It's an unassuming storefront, the corner unit of an unassuming little strip mall, stashed in an unassuming area of Sandy Blvd. The whole deal is very drive-by-able. However, after missing the turn for the new Slowburger outpost on 24th and taking the next turn I was all "waitaminnit- lookit that unassuming little corner unit..."-you get it. Enter; Church. The second you cross the threshold, you get a faceful of "big concept". The building is new, but the interior of this bar has been furnished to look like that of an old, country church, possibly one you'd find in the backwaters of Louisiana. It looks, quite literally, as if a church was disassembled, shipped across the country piece by piece, and then (sorta) reassembled in a strip mall so we can get our tongue in cheek sin on. The sacrilege is great, and I love the spot for it. But seriously, when is Portland's penchant for satire going to bite it in the ass? I mean, there's a "confessional" in the bar where anyone can take naked pictures of their junk. Whatever, if Satan had showed up while I was eating I would have been all, "I'm just here for the burger, man."
BURGER; Possibly the most over-thought burger I've consumed in 2013. Gorgeous ingredients, respectably prepared, and beautifully presented. But much like the interior of the bar, painfully high concept. The burger is a perfectly seasoned half pound, cloaked in aged white cheddar and then piled high with an alarmingly tart pickled slaw, a healthy slathering of sweet, smokey house made bbq sauce, and --this is almost flip-- a handful of fried onion straws. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, your typical bar burger. The first bite is a wild ride, full of weird emotions and burger based feels. Therein lies the discord, everything about this place- including the burger- is like a strange harmony, discordant yet mellifluous, traditional yet shockingly nontraditional. Bottom line; This is a delicious burger, but it is not for the faint of mouth.
FRIES: As per usual these days, I went for the mixed greens. However, a side dish of fried okra met the requirement for salty, crunchy burger accompaniment. It's popcorn-like appearance threw me, a bit blonde for a deep fried snack, but overall, quite satisfying. Great bar nosh.
SERVICE: Ladies and gay dudes, read closely; this bar is well stocked with hunky mens. As if the person in charge of hiring took note of every adorable Portland archetype and then hired the best of each one; Vaguely ethnic gentlemen with a well coiffed mustache? Check. Gloriously bearded faux lumberjack? Double check. Adorably twee choir boy? Check. They are here y'all. Come and look at them. I doubt they care if you're creepy, I mean, you're drinking in a fake strip mall church for God's sake, I think you'll be forgiven.
WHERE: 2600 NE Sandy Blvd. Portland. http://www.churchbarpdx.com/