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