Thursday, August 21, 2014

Portland Burger Week; What Happened?? The Week In Review

Portland Burger week 2014 was just too damn much.  Too many people clamoring to get tables, too many exasperated servers, and just too many damn burgers. That being said, there were some true highlights. The Hop and Vine's venison burger was absolutely fantastic, and North Light's stuffed cheese curd burger had great potential to be a PDX fave (here's to hoping it's they make it a full size menu burger).

I had to enlist help for this burger week , because DAMN- that's just too much beef for one lady to ingest in a week. After day four I had all but thrown in the towel. So here's what Mr Bryan Escalante of The Jammery (delicious artisan jams made locally) had to say about some of his burger week faves:

TILT
This mind blowing monstrosity of meaty magnificence was brought to your eyes courtesy of the good folks at Tilt.

EASTERN BLOCK
Locally sourced natural chuck patty, American cheese, hand-carved pork belly, fried onions/peppers and a tasty house recipe sweet pepper & dill yogurt sauce, all perfectly nestled on one of Tilt's giant, house recipe fresh baked biscuits

Verdict - WOULD EAT AGAIN - OMG THAT BISCUIT - SO FLAKY



MI MERO MOLE

Such an amazing force of burger nature. The bacon wrapped chile relleno was the star of the first few bites, but as I was able reach the core of this monster, the chorizo patty hit me like a spicy punch to the mouth. Luckily the refried black beans, guacamole, and especial sauce held the heat down and kept the flavor up. The pickeled onions didnt really add much to this behemoth, with everything else going on they took a side car to this Harley of a burger.

VERDICT: MAJOR NOMS



DOUG FIR

A wagu beef thick chunk of chuck on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce and smoked and candied jalapeno aioli. Topped with mozzarella and candied bacon on local sesame bun.

A good showing, although the wait for seating was a bit ridiculous considering they were in no danger of selling out.

VERDICT - CANDIED BACON - WE VOTE YES





Friday, August 15, 2014

Portland Burger Week; The Rialto

The Rialto has been after me for ages to write about their burgers. Somehow, it always just seemed a little too out of the way, or little too noisy or a little too, I dont know, full of neon beer signs and sports fans. If that makes me a snob, I'm okay with that. Luckily, the sweet spot in the deep dark underground below the Rialto houses the Jack London Bar, a complete 180 from the upscale-ish sports bar above. It's sticker covered walls, dusty old couches and little beatnik-esque stage are straight out of a 90's grunge rock themed rom-com.  That is very much a scene I can get down with.

Burger: This was my first full size burger of burger week. And it was also the first burger I wished was half the size. All of Rialto's burgers are a half pound of fresh ground chuck, and this basic fella was smothered in white cheddar, sloppily dressed with ketchup, mustard and mayo and topped with romaine, tomato, red onion and pickles. All of it was held together by a serviceable potato bun. The burger was about as basic as they come, and cooked a little hard for our taste. Bottom lime, it's should always be a five dollar burger. But if Rialto or Jack London is your favorite kind of bar then this burger will do you up just fine. Side note; best damn onion rings I've had in a long, long time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Portland Burger Week: North Light

North Light is part of the newest wave of Mississippi /Williams development; tucked into the ground floor of a shiny new tower of condos. If you happen to be a resident in of one of these shiny new condos, then North Light is a really convenient place to do some midday patio drinking. The menu is that "new twist on Classic American" menu that seems so popular in or near new condo developments. It fits well within the changing landscape of the Mississippi/Williams 'hood. Feel about that however you will.

Burger; North Light's burger week contribution was stuffed with Wisconsin cheese curds and topped with what was intended to be kimchi aioli but was really just a scant tablespoon of a tolerably dry kimchi. The burger was a bit more medium than we love, and the first bite divulged a tart snap of molten curds that were just short of enough to balance the burger. My hope is that North Light will recreate this as a full size burger for their everyday menu, with enough cheese and kimchi to live up to it's potential. This city might not need another frigging luxury condo but it sure as hell needs a decent Juicy Lucy.

Portland Burger Week 2014

Portland Burger Week is back! The Portland Mercury sponsored event is looking bigger and badder than last year, with nearly twice the burger contributions! This year's participants are:

Ate-Oh-Ate 

2454 E Burnside
Daily 11am-9pm
CHAR SIU BURGER
Ground Laurelhurst Market beef patty on brioche, with shaved char siu pork, spicy Chinese mustard, and crunchy Asian pickles.
Ate-Oh-Ate

Bar Bar 
3939 N Mississippi
Daily 11am-2am
STATE FAIR BURGER
Tender Alessio bun, griddled onions, beef patty, thick cheddar, ketchup. Boom. The stone classic archetype.
BarBar

Burnside Brewing
701 E Burnside
Mon-Tues 3pm-10pm ,Wed-Sat 11am-12am , Sun 11am-10pm
CLASSIC CHEESEBURGERClassic American cheese cheeseburger, special sauce, sesame seed bun, lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato.. No thrills, just good eats. Make it a double or even triple if you like, and add on a can of Couch Lager for $2, a shot of Beam for $3.
Burnside Brewing

Club 21
2035 NE Glisan
Daily 11:30am-2:30am
SHADOW BURGER
Painted Hills ground chuck, bacon, smoked Gouda, lettuce, tomato-bacon jam, & topped with an onion ring.
Club 21

Double Barrel
2002 SE Division
Daily 2pm-2:30am
BURNIN' LOVE BURGER
Painted Hills ground chuck, southern pimento cheese, fried jalapeños, tender bacon.
Double Barrel

Doug Fir
830 E Burnside
Daily 7am-2:30am
SPICY CANDIED BACON CHEESEBURGER / BURGER DFX
Candied bacon, mozzarella cheese, smoked and candied jalapeño aioli, shredded iceberg, 6oz hand-formed Wagyu patty, Portland French Bakery bun.
Doug Fir

Foster Burger
5339 SE Foster
Daily 11am-10pm
PEPPERJACK BACON BURGER
1/4-lb beef patty with American cheese, pepperjack cheese, fat and tender bacon, sharp house pickles, and crisp, raw, white onion.
Foster Burger

Hop & Vine (click for review)
1914 N Killingsworth
Mon-Wed 3pm-11pm, Thurs-Fri 3pm-12am, Sat 10am-12am, Sun 10am-11pm
*Available after 3pm every day.
VENISON FOCACCIA BURGER
Housemade focaccia, house-cured pork belly, house pickles, tomato jam, fresh aioli, and a char-grilled Nicky USA venison patty.
Hop & Vine

Mi Mero Mole
32 NW 5th
Mon-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat Noon-10pm
*Offer begins at 2pm each day. Available at downtown location ONLY!
SONORAN CHILE RELLENO BURGER
Chorizo patty on brioche bun with refried black beans, guacamole, pickled red onions, especial sauce, and bacon-wrapped Hatch chile relleno.
Mi Mero Mole

North Light
3746 N Misissippi
Mon-Fri 4pm-12am, Sat-Sun 9am-12am
STUFFED CHEESE CURD BURGER
Painted Hills 6oz hand-formed patty (cooked rare or to order and drizzled with brown butter), stuffed with Wisconsin cheese curds, on brown-butter-griddled housemade brioche bun. Topped with garlicky housemade kimchi aioli.
North Light

Rialto
529 SW 4th
11am-2:30am
THE RIALTO CHEESEBURGER
Hand-formed fresh beef patty, with extra-sharp white cheddar and all the classic trimmings, on a fresh potato bun.
Rialto

Rockin' Robyn's Sassy Burger 
3423 SE Belmont
Wed-Thurs 12pm-7pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-6pm
BUFFALO BURGERGround buffalo patty w/Robyn's signature seasoning blend, peppered bacon, roasted red peppers, smoked Gouda cheese, tomato, a thick slab of white onion, pickles, on a Portland French Bakery brioche bun.
Rockin' Robyn's Sassy Burger

Slowburger (click for review)
2329 NE Glisan
Daily 11am-11pm
BANH MI BURGER (Same as Slow Bar)
Pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, Sriracha mayo,Grand Central brioche bun, thick Painted Hills beef patty.
Slowburger

Slow Bar (click for review)
533 SE Grand
Daily 11:30am-2:30am
BANH MI BURGER
Pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, Sriracha mayo, Grand Central brioche bun, thick Painted Hills beef patty
Slow Bar

Smallwares
4605 NE Fremont
Daily 5pm-10pm
THE SMALLWARES CHEESEBURGERFresh ground beef griddled in bacon fat, potato bun, Swiss cheese, tomato, shredded iceberg, shiso, cilantro, crispy fried shallot, sweet chili-ginger special mayonnaise.
Smallwares

Spirit of ’77 *Veggie!*
500 NE MLK
Mon-Fri 4pm-12am, Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-10pm
HOUSEMADE VEGGIE BURGER
Housemade veggie patty (black bean, roasted red pepper, spinach, quinoa), roasted red pepper aioli, served on a whole wheat bun.
Spirit of '77

The Station
2703 NE Alberta
Mon-Fri 4pm-Late, Sat-Sun 12pm-Late
OUTLAW BURGER
Sing it: "(One) all-beef patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickle, and onion on a sesame-seed bun."
The Station

Tilt
1355 NW Everett Suite 120
Mon-Thurs - 8am - 11pm Fri-Sat 8am - 12am Sun - 8am - 11pm
*Burger Available after 8am.
EASTERN BLOCKLocally sourced natural chuck patty, American cheese, hand-carved pork belly, fried onions/peppers and a tasty house recipe sweet pepper & dill yogurt sauce, all perfectly nestled on one of Tilt's giant, house recipe fresh baked biscuits.
Tilt

Tilt
3449 N Anchor
Mon-Thurs 11am-8pm, Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-3pm
EASTERN BLOCK
Locally sourced natural chuck patty, American cheese, hand-carved pork belly, fried onions/peppers and a tasty house recipe sweet pepper & dill yogurt sauce, all perfectly nestled on one of Tilt's giant, house recipe fresh baked biscuits.
Tilt

White Owl Social Club *Veggie!*
1305 SE 8th
Daily 3pm-Late
WHITE OWL SOCIAL CLUB HAZELNUT BEET BURGERHouse veggie patty (garlic, almonds, brown sugar, red miso, kosher salt, black pepper, peanut butter, wakame, hazelnuts, quinoa, beets, potato starch, white onion, olive oil), served on a toasted bun with Misonaise, Heidi Ho Monterey Jack, carrot ramps and pea shoots.
White Owl Social Club

Widmer Brothers Pub
929 N Russell
Sun-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-1am
*Offer begins at 2pm each day.
AMERICAN KOBE CHEESEBURGER
6 oz Snake river farms American Kobe beef, American cheese, grilled pickled onion, iceberg slaw, fennel-tomato ketchup, grand central potato bun.

All images on this post courtesy of The Portland Mercury.
Widmer Brothers Pub

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Portland Burger Week: Slow Bar

Slow Bar is the first place I think to recommend when anyone asks me where to grab a burger. And bahn mi is a Vietnamese sandwich I used to get in Anaheim, CA that I dream of to this day. Naturally the combination of these two things had my salivators salivating. I mean, Slow Bar kills it every time, right? Right? RIGHT?

Well, not really. The savory signature Slow Bar beef was significantly less savory than usual, the heavy slaw mixture that is probably the most recognizable feature of the bahn mi (beside the namesake bread) was conspicuously light. And the sesame brioche was far too sweet, it quickly became cloying. This was a very obvious attempt at a simple, easy to churn out burger-week burger, and the unfortunate result is the best burger in town phoning it in. Hold up though, Slow Bar crushed burger week last year, so they get a pass this year.  I still love Slow Bar and I will continue to tell everyone to always go there. They transcend burger week.

Portland Burger Week is an annual event that showcases some of Portland's favorite burgers. Participating bars, restaurants and cafes offer specially crafted burgers for $5 each. You can see a full list of Burger Week offerings here

Monday, August 11, 2014

Portland Burger Week; The Hop and Vine

Hop and Vine is a little tap room/bottle shop on North Killingsworth. It's the kind of neighborhood place that's popular with the locals and kind of happened upon by everyone else. It's gorgeous, with a sunny back patio and a draft list to write home about, but what's really up is this burger week contribution. If this is any indication of their everyday burger making prowess, this is not the place to sleep on. I'm talking to you everyone who does not live in North Portland.

Burger: This venison burger was cooked so rare it practically walked into my mouth. And I loved it. The thick slab of pork confit, the zucchini pickles, the fresh frisse and house made focaccia were all so well thought out. Given the savory weight of the confit and the buttery, rich, rare-as-rare-can-be venison, Hop and Vine constructed a complete burger that was pleasantly smaller that what you would normally see outside of burger week. I walked out with a spring in my step, rather than a 10 lb dumbbell in my colon. Thank you Hop and Vine, it's like you predicted the havoc we all intend to wreak on our bodies this week and you planned accordingly.

Portland Burger Week is an annual event that showcases some of Portland's favorite burgers. Participating bars, restaurants and cafes offer specially crafted burgers for $5 each. You can see a full list of Burger Week offerings here

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Average Burgers and Above Average Zombie Programming at Hilt

Every bar in this city thinks it has "The Best Happy Hour Burger" or "Portland's Best Late Night Burger" or some other unregulated nonsense. I assure you, I am here to weed through the free wheeling claims of burger superiority to give it to you straight up. They wont all be winners, and they wont all be losers. Most, like Hilt, will fall squarely in the middle of the road. And there's no shame in that.  The mediocre is necessary. Without regular, boring stuff there's nothing to put spectacular stuff in context. If everything is fabulous then nothing is fabulous- you feel me? Hilt may claim to have some kind of impressive burger situation, but it's really just a regular old bar burger, and there's nothing wrong with that. Yeah, I would eat it again, but I wouldn't brag about it.

Burger: Aside from the heavy handed schmear of mayo, very average. I've noted before that I will typically review a kitchen's basic burger before I review any tricked out chef creation style burgers. My logic is that if a basic burger cant be made compellingly why should I or anyone else give some fancy dagwood-esque burger the time of day? There are some impressive looking burgers on the menu at Hilt, and if their basic burger is any indication, they probably wont suck. The basic burger boasted a fluffy sesame seed bun, fresh butter lettuce and ripe red tomato slices and a luscious, if skimpy, patty. Also, sorry about that picture, it was dark and everyone in the bar was really getting into The Walking Dead so I felt like an asshole blasting my flash.

Fries: Our party did a lot of plate sharing and one of the favorite's was the kasseri fries. These were hand cut and covered in kasseri cheese with some type of lemon pepper situation. Good for sharing, great for choking on when a Walking Dead scene scares the crap out of you.

Service: Very fast and friendly. I think that Portland is shaking off the whole uppity server reputation in favor of personable, more laid back service. I like that much better and Hilt's got it.

Where: 1934 NE Alberta Street www.thehiltbar.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The American Local; Weak Necked Heaven/Possible Snoresville

The American Local is one of many exciting eateries on SE Division (driving down that street sucks a lot more than it did 5 years ago but that's beside the point I guess). If you can withstand the intoxicating aromas of Pok Pok or the even more intoxicating muddy drug water at Bula Kava you'll only get as far as The American Local before you and your olfactories are bewitched by the saporous bouquets and cacaphonous festivity within. The community table layout and wide open kitchen is warm and genial. There's an exciting energy that buzzes with Portland pride, the chefs toss fragrant dishes with wide smiles and the servers laugh heartily with the patrons.  It's got that tongue in cheek "high concept-low-brow" approach that is so popular these days but it's execution is razor sharp. Can you tell how much I like this place or what?
Burger: My first bite was heaven. True eye rolling, deep  moaning, weak necked heaven. The burger is simple, letting each component compliment the others without getting too fussy. Now, I'm a champion of simplicity in burgers, I like the taste of beef  between fluffy brioche without a whole lot of brouhaha happening in between. The American Local nailed it HOWEVER, by bite 4, I was bored. Let this be the case against oversimplifying. There should be something to break up the savory meat, airy bread, bit of greenery situation. My utter veneration of the burger that seduced me for two bites was whisked away like a brief (like, seriously brief) passionate love affair. I would recommend the burger, but I would recommend it be shared alongside a few of the seasonal menu's fantastic looking small plates. That way you get all the soft weird moans and none of the equally weird yawn snores.

Fries: Fresh cut Kennebec potatoes, fried up and salted perfectly. Exactly what you expect and nothing more. Served with a side of *special sauce 

Service: Great! Attentive, personable, funny and very easy going. I kinda wanted to high five our server on the way out, he gave us serious high five vibes. Oh and take note, beers are overpriced and under-poured, so yeah... just an FYI

Where: 3003 SE Division  theamericanlocal.com

* I'm pretty sure it's just ketchup mixed with mayo and mustard

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sports, Dorks and The Jolly Roger

At a dinner party a while back, a fellow Californian recommended The Jolly Roger to me with the thrilling claim, "it's just like In n' Out." After a certain amount of years without a beloved Double Double, a person might develop some hallucinatory oral hokum regarding what's arguably the best fast food burger on earf because frankly, The Jolly Roger's resemblance to In n' Out pretty much starts and ends with "they both serve burgers."
The Jolly Roger is a reliably divey sports bar, co-opted, like so much of the SE, by soft pastel grunge hipsters. However, visiting on a Saturday afternoon was a lesson in maintaining a mellow constitution while all of the airborne sports balls being telecast around us worked an entire bar full of jersey clad fanboys and girls into a frenzy (I had the distinct feeling that I was in Beaverton all of a sudden - where was all the pastel soft grunge?).

Burger; Well, dude I met once at a dinner party, these burgers are NOT comparable to  In n' Out. Just no. Maybe if I hadn't gotten my breadbasket all juiced up for something "animal style" I wouldn't have had such an adverse reaction. Put simply, The Jolly Roger is a very basic bar burger. The beef is slapped on a flat top, presumably from frozen, leaving the eater with the distinct essence of 100 years of greasy frost. The gluey american cheese felt more synthetic than it should have and the shredded iceberg and tomato both suffered for it. The dense potato bun was the best thing about the burger, which makes me a little sad. All this being said, if you're hammer-wasted with all your pastel soft grunge friends and you need to soak up some liqueur post haste, this burger will be the best thing you ever ate (probably, because that how drunkenness works).

Fries: Frozen, thick cut steak fries that also have an over-processed feeling to them that is mildly disturbing. But again, the drunker you are, the better these probably taste.

Service; Actually pretty solid. Our server handled our snooty behinds with ease while she juggled an entire bar full of revved up sports heads. It was impressive.

Where: 1340 Se 12th Ave JollyRestaurants.com


Friday, May 30, 2014

Crown Q and the Rebirth of Cool on Killingsworth

Crown Q resides at Killingswworth and MLK  in a storefront that for the longest time was a bummer of a teriyaki cafe before becoming a bummer of an empty storefront. I walk my dog past this place all the time, and when it was empty I would fantasize about what it might be someday. I could not be more thrilled with what it has become; a full on meat palace dressed up like Mardi Gras drag queen. Gary Lowe of the popular NE Portland Crown Q food cart, partnered with Stroupe Farms in Aurora to build my fantasy neighborhood market. Fresh all natural, locally raised meats, grocery odds and ends, a classic soul food menu AND OH MY GAWD YOU GUYS THEY MAKE AWESOME BURGERS

Burger: Well the meat is crazy delicious. The patties are seasoned with a heavy hand, formed to order and smash grilled. Though the onion and tomato were sloppily sliced (somebody needs to get their knife sharpened ASAP) and the lettuce was a little wispy, everything was fresh and bright. The white bun had a nice little toast to it but was otherwise pretty basic. But lemme tell you bout this bbq sauce right quick; the house made sauce had a great balance of tang and sweet, and even though it was slopped on without much grace, it made the burger. Time will tell if this is the burger this neighborhood wants, but it's certainly the burger this neighborhood deserves.

Fries: Opted for coleslaw- it was that kind of day. Not particularly memorable so it must not have been bad- I would have remembered that.

Service: Counter service that's warm and friendly and makes you feel like you're in someone's home kitchen. The family vibe is strong here, and it adds a charm and sweetness to the joint. Growler fills and outdoor seating.

Where: 445 NE Killingsworth St CrownQMarket.com

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lardo on Hawthorne and the Legend of Porklandia

 
Portland might as well change it's name to Porkland. This city fetishises pork all day every day. Enter Lardo, a porky wonderland of a restaurant with a uniquely Portland evolution. Lardo went from food truck to restaurant to triple outpost chain in roughly five years. That alone is a testament to this city's love of swine. It's not surprising that Lardo has seen such success, they take their pork mad serious, and this is a city that generally rewards dedication and perfectionism especially when it comes to charcuteries on wheels.

Burger: Two 1/4 lb patties, smothered in cheddar and topped with another 1/3 lb of Lardo's famed "porkstrami", a thick cut pastrami that falls apart like the stuff of meaty daydreams. This towering meatscape was habilitated with a rich, velvety aioli and romaine confetti exploding out of the sides like a new year's party popper. The fluffy brioche and  hunk of dill pickle provided the sweetness and tartness necessary to balance the salty mountain of meat. It was a beast to wrangle into my mouth, but once I got my jaws around it I was in hog heaven. Personally, I'm not super-into loads of mayo, but some people are. And if those people are also into bachanals of grilled meat they are going to lose their minds over this burger.

Fries: Lardo fries are legendary. I aint foolin. Cooked in lard and tossed with fried herbs and parmesan. I have some favorite spots for fries in PDX, but Lardo just took a dump on all of them. These are the best fries in Portland and I'm sorry if I ever made you believe otherwise.

Service; The food truck aesthetic is alive and well at Lardo's Hawthorne location where you stand in a fast moving line and order at a counter. They also have an impressive draft beer lineup, if you're into that.

Where; Multiple locations. This review took place at 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland. www.lardopdx.com

Don't Get Your Hopes Up For Redwood


The Montavilla 'hood on SE Stark is real hit and miss when it comes to getting down on big plates of food. Tanuki,  fighting tooth and nail against their popularity, is pretty much making all the restaurants on the street look like amateur baby kitchens. Admittedly I've only reviewed one other burger in Montavilla and it was legendarily bad. Wait, I feel like I'm starting on the wrong foot. Lemme start over -Ahem- *nervously adjusts collar* Redwood is a dark, semi romantic bar with a cozy atmosphere, perfect for a boozy date night. It's got rich wood interior that feels like hanging out inside of a wine barrel. I could drink many craft beers at Redwood but it's unlikely I will be eating any more of their craft beefs.

Burger: Sometimes a burger has everything going it for it except a chef. For instance, even though this burger was dressed with fresh leaves of pastel green butter lettuce, carefully sliced red onion and a hedonistic quantity of white american cheese, the meat was so well done it was like chewing a sponge made of beef flavored leather. The bun was grilled far too aggressively and then sloppily dressed with a flavorless "special sauce" (read; this was bottled mayo someone forgot to season) I thought that this burger was disrespected by its chef and I was disappointed. Even burgers on a Friday night deserve our respect.

Fries: The second the first fry hit my lips I could tell it was at least an hour old. It had begun the process of becoming stale and overcooked. It tasted as though  it had been hovering over a fryer long after the fry basket had been lifted. And every other fry after it tasted the same. Blech.

Service; Redwood has exceptional service. Our server was exactly the perfect amount of chatty and attentive, but there was a sadness in her eyes that totally foreshadowed my burger experience. SHE KNEW!! I should pay better attention to my instincts. She was nice though.

Where: 7915 SE Stark Street Portland www.redwoodpdx.com

Editors Note: My constant companion and I worked in tandem to try both the basic burger and the vegetarian variety. I wasn't impressed my the texture of the vegetarian patty, it was mushy/mealy, but the flavor profile- a hodgepodge interpretation of Southeast Asian - was ambitious, which was impressive considering the "who cares" construction of the beef burger.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Astrolgical Astronomy at Ecliptic Brewing Co

I encourage suggestions, but I'm also kinda lazy and snobby, so I end up saying, "I will totally eat that burger this weekend" lots more than I actually eat burgers on the weekend. Sorry-not-sorry if I've done that to you. Once in a while the stars will align and someone will suggest a burger that I actually eat and review. And the stars aligned so hard for this burger. First off, this place is called Ecliptic Brewing (what's up vague 'stars-aligning' reference). Second, it was Portland's first gorgeous- as in clear and warm-ish- day in months (insert vague reference to the skies/seasons). Third, Ecliptic is in my hood, leaving me with absolutely no godly reason NOT to go there (besides my health)  I love it when a plan comes together (thanks universe, you're okay I guess). Tip o' the hat to Steve* and Megan* for the suggestion. Oh, and to anyone else that's suggested a rad burger; someday, dudes, someday I will eat them all.

Burger;  Great beef, seasoned with a measured hand, cooked a lovely medium, shredded iceberg, and a smattering of pickle coins and red onion with a portiere of white cheddar, all of it smothered in aioli. Aioli aioli aioli aioli rocking everywhere. Aioli dripping off of my lips and into my lap. I wish I had the chutzpah to post a picture of my face after my first bite. I looked like I had just walked out of a bukakke party. Mayo all over the punim. The bun/burger/dressage balance was off. Here was this phenomenal patty of beef with what felt like a pinch of lettuce and a pound of bread. The onions and pickles gave a much needed tang but dang y'all, what is up with all that mayo?!

Fries; Ecliptic Brewing has officially usurped Killer Burger as this blog's favorite french fry. House made, fried up perfectly -not greasy or limp, but crispy and fluffy. Dusted liberally with sea salt. Seriously perfect.

Service; There seemed to be more servers than tables -  just an observation. The service was quick and friendly. But we need to talk about the view this place has. It's perched at the crest of Mississippi, just south of Freemont, with monster-huge bay doors that roll up to reveal a dazzling view of the westside framed behind the Freemont Bridge. I suspect this place will be seeing some packed houses come "patio drinking season".

Where; Ecliptic Brewing 825 North Cook St. (@ Mississippi). eclipticbrewing.com

* No names were changed. Who cares?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mini Donut Burgers at The Original Dinerant

Hey, American, Can You Deal With This Level of Freedom? Because part of me thinks food like this should be illegal outside of the State Fair. The Original Dinerant is pretty far from the Salem Fairgrounds, but add "on-a-stick" to most of it's menu items (if not it's actual high minded dishes) and it would fit comfortably between the fry brick booth and the elephant ear stand.  It is a kind of dazzling downtown restaurant that riffs on the make-bad-choices culture of American Cuisine, like, making chicken and waffles into sliders or batter frying Dr Pepper and Oreos. The Original is too sophisticated to serve two of those three things. But don't get me wrong, at the intersection of SW 6th and Oak is the intersection of metropolitan and Americana, tight-roping between the familiar and the experimental over a chasm of superciliousness a.k.a. fancy-pants versions of strait-up basic diner food.

Burger; These mini burgers were amazing little morsels from heaven, DUH. The beef was supple and perfectly medium, a feat for their size. The Tillamook cheddar might as well had been left off, its tang was completely buried under the glazed donut, but who cares? It is delicious burger on top of a delicious donut! I have gazed longingly at the donut burgers at many a Oregon State Fair but never ate one for fear of festival food court beef. There was a feeling of redemption in eating these, like, I can play adult at a classy cocktail hour but do it while eating a burger with effing donuts for buns.  I definitely felt a mixture of joy and shame in eating these, but, I think if I ate one at the  fair I would have just felt shame. Do what you will with that information.

Fries; Nice shoestring fries. Full disclosure; my companions and I ordered a plate of Poutine instead of plain fries. The fries beneath the gravy and cheese curds were fine. Nothing special, but frankly it's hard to accurately review anything after you've eaten two mini donut burgers. Also, what were we thinking? That mini-meal took AT LEAST a few hours off my life.

Service; Very typical of Portland. Professional and friendly etc. but part of me wished they were a bit campier. In my opinion their faux diner aesthetic would really benefit from a few beehives and bowties.

Where? 300 SW 6th Avenue originaldinerant.com

Monday, February 24, 2014

Frack Burgers, the 90s and Poison Sand Water

I do not associate frack(ing) and burgers, but regardless of the definition, I think we can all admit that Frack is a fun word to say. I remember subbing out f-bombs for the word "frack" as a non swearing child. But now I am an adult (or a very large, swearing child) and even though I don't want to think about poison sand water murdering entire towns while I stuff fatty meats in my face, one odorous waft of grilled beef can change my mind. Why should the term "Frack" in relation to meat and cheese even bother anyone? What are words anyway? Hydraulic fracturing and burger nomenclature are not mutually exclusive, you know. Anyway, it was with the whimsy that accompanies being a large swearing child that I ventured to the very edge of Portland and ate the frack out of a Frack Burger.

Burger; Frack Burgers are basic. There are no high concept "recipe" burgers on their menu, which is structured similarly to 5 Guys, Boardwalk or seminal burger joint In and Out. You have the choice of one, two, three or four patties. Each patty is 1/4 lb. The patties are hand formed and dripping with American cheese. There are a handful of additional topping you can choose from (just like 5 Guys & Boardwalk & Wow Burger) all of them are pretty standard. The patties are dense and juicy, the buns are fresh and airy, the standard toppings (iceberg, tomato and white onion) are fresh and crisp, but the Frack Sauce is what sets Frack Burger apart. It's what I imagine Ed's Sauce from Goodburger tastes like. If you have no idea what I'm talking about go watch Goodburger on Netfllix right now.

Fries: When I saw the fries come out I was disappointed. They had the limp, oily sheen of overcooked handmade fries. You often see these fries at bars, freshly cut and ill prepared. But hold up, after I actually ate one, I changed my tune. They were far better than they looked. The onion rings also looked like they were cooked to death, but on closer inspection (by my mouth) they were pretty great. The sides are nothing to write home about, but they are serviceable.

Service: Counter server looked like he just walked out of a 1995 Gin Blossoms video. But that's not a taunt-the 90s are very much alive in Portland, maybe nowhere more so than it's outer edges.

Where: 8981 SW Barbur Blvd. Frack Burger on FB

Tasty 'N Sons on a Cold Winter Day

Remember when the world LITERALLY FROZE last week? Everyone was simultaneously terrified and thrilled. I wanted to play in the snow but I also wanted to sit somewhere with huge windows and eat a burger. Just so happens that former "Restaurant of the Year" Tasty 'N Sons is about 5 minutes from my house AND it has big-ass windows.  Boom. 

Burger: Tasty 'N Sons has never let me down. Every time I've eaten there, I've eaten something so delicious it makes me angry. This visit, the burger was the dish the I was most furious about. First of all, how dare they top that nectarous burger with bacon they are making in house? Who the hell do they think they are to enswathe all that meat with Beechers Cheddar? I could have honestly smacked someone then immediately hugged them; I eat with a full range of emotion
Tasty 'N Sons pushes some of Portland's best plates out of their kitchen, so it shouldn't have surprised me that their burger would make me so outraged.  Bread and butter pickles, slivers of red onion, a handful of iceberg and a schmear of magical aioli. Simple, classic perfection. Boom

Fries: Nope, but we had enough people in our party to order nearly everything off of the happy hour menu, and I strongly suggest the Radicchio with Parmesan Reggiano Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is so rich I wanted to slather it all over the world, but the brightness of the radicchio cuts through the heft of the meal.

Service: Portland servers really are in a class to themselves. Come to Tasty 'N Sons and expect a lovely experience.

Where:  3808 N Williams, Suite C. tastyntasty.com

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kenny and Zuke's is More Than Pastrami, But Not Much More

Why Would You Go To K&Zs and NOT Get Pastrami? I was screaming this internally as I crossed the threshold of Kenny and Zuke's Deli Bar on North Williams. The space was formerly occupied by francophille feverdream, Pix Patisserie (le sigh), but now smells of briny pork, tart sauerkraut and bitter rye bead.  Despite having my nostrils seduced with the olfactory bacchanal that is their Ruben, I ordered a burger but - real talk - I was thinking about the macarons at Pix almost the whole time.

Burger; The Happy Hour burger is a bargain. Beautifully toasted house baked bun, house made bread n butter pickles, and in addition to ruby red tomato and verdant green leaf, the option of pepper flecked grilled button mushrooms, caramelized onion, avocado or thick pepper bacon. This is the burger you hope to get when your friends drag you to a caraway scented deli but you maybe hate rye bread or something.

Fries; Nope! Kettle Chips, potato salad or a classic slaw that is very pastel and refreshing.

Service; Okay, forreals, our server had this early 90's hip-hop look that was KILLING ME. He was so sweet with his fat, gold chain and silky, purple shirt and dry, jheri-curl fade and I loved it so much.  I want to drink 40s and listen to EPMD on a stoop with him un-ironically.

Where; 3901 N Williams Ave  503.287.0782   www.KennyandZukes.com