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

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

* 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