Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Portland Burger Week in Review!

I ALMOST ATE THE WHOLE THING; And I really would have had a handful of kitchens not grossly underestimated the sheer burger consuming power of Portland during burger week. Victory Bar sold out of their burger an hour after they opened their doors and, understandably, quickly threw in the towel. Widmer Bros had signs in their windows regretfully declining burger specials after lunch time and Rockin Robyn strait called in sick. I bullied my way up to the bar at The White Owl 3 nights in a row attempting to secure their vegan beet burger, but they had repeatedly sold out. Obviously, I was denied all three times. All things considered, I still managed to do some respectable damage to my lower GI tract at Foster Burger, Ate-Oh-Ate, TILT, Club 21, The Alberta St. Pub, Slow Bar and Pause. My biggest takeaways from Burger Week are:

  • Some places are gonna shine, other places are gonna whine
  • There is a thing as too much cheese
  • It's maybe not a great idea to eat burgers 7 days in a row.
Damnit, there were some life changing, event burgers happening during burger week. If I may, my top 3 Portland Burger Week burgers are (drumroll)..

Welcome to swan island A.K.A. layer upon layer of sloppy burger mayhem. Double patties? Check. Triple buns? Check. Bigger than your face? Check.  Even though a little part of me wants to never see it again (probably the part that lives in my GI tract), the bigger part is like, "I'm gonna eat that burger so hard, like, once, maybe twice a year". Here's to hoping this beast-mode-big-mac will make it's way on to their everyday menu.
Click here for the review of the BIGTILT

#2 Alberta St. Pub's Elk Burger

Once I got over the shocking renovation of what used to be one of the more dependable dives on Alberta, I could really enjoy this gamey take on burger week. Though the fancy dressings were lost behind the grassy meat, the patty was fantastic enough to more than make up for the lack of pickled cherrys and chaterelle aioli.
Click here for the review of Alberta St. Pub.

#1 Ate-Oh-Ate's Spam Musubi Burger

Truly the one transcendent, eye rolling, tear jerking moment of Portland Burger Week. Whereas I have never been a fan of spam, I am now a convert. Everything about this burger was harmonious. It was simple greatness. Dear Ate-Oh-Ate, Please-Oh-Please put the spam musubi burger on your regular menu.
Click here for my review of Ate-Oh-Ate

Naturally there were some disappointing moments during burger week; the aforementioned premature closures, some less than awesome offerings and the wait times. Honorable mentions include:

  • Slow Bar (duh)
  • Club 21 (who knew?)
  • Pause (what up dark horse?)
My last burger of burger week was had at Pause. In a bittersweet moment of closure, one of the chefs came and chatted with me about what a cluster f*ck burger week was for all the participating restaurants. How nearly none of them had anticipated just how slammed their dining rooms would be, or how backed up their tiny kitchens would get, or how exhausted their entire staffs would be before dinner service was halfway through. Though I know just how tough it was for some of these places, the reward must be so much greater. People going all the way to swan island for a burger? Heck yeah! Scene kids, punks and foodies all hunched over Perkins Burgers at perennial old man bar, Club 21. Diversity! A line out the door at Foster Burger? Well, that's just annoying, but you catch my drift. I can only imagine how many people who may never have seen the inside of these restaurants otherwise, now might have a new favorite restaurant. I know I do (I'm looking at you Ate-Oh-Ate)