Hidden in plain sight in the Bellevue Square branch of the department store Nordstrom, the Nordstrom Grill boasts a pleasant atmosphere, friendly and helpful waiters, and a small and well thought out menu. While this may not seem like a traditional burger joint, I was there, there was beef, and a review needed to be written. We at Legit Beef are not ones to discriminate on the source of our beef.

The “Half Pound Angus Burger” on the menu is pretty bare; no bacon, no cheese, no fancy sauce. With just lettuce, tomato, an onion ring and a ciabatta bun, there’s not much to screw up, and the chef’s confidence in allowing his beef to speak for itself is made evident. And when the waitress says a burger fanatics favourite words – “How would you like that cooked?” – my heart skips a beat. Nestled away behind the mens suits, I may have found a winner.

The presentation is delectible, which the image above doesn’t really convey. The bun is lightly toasted, and parted to show a lightly battered onion ring, a single slice of fresh tomato, a fat and juicy looking beef patty, and the largest single piece of (very fresh) lettuce I have ever seen. Normally such a huge piece of lettuce would have deterred me, but it was absolutely crisp and fresh; it must have come straight from the lettuce onto my bun, and the patty hadn’t had time to wilt it. The onion ring was unremarkable, but inoffensive; it was light and soft and generally acted as a good backdrop for the patty.

And what a patty it was. Cooked to medium rare perfection; dripping delightful juices, pink in the middle but never too red. It had great structure, for a 1″ thick patty it stuck together until the end, and yet gave way under pressure of teeth or fork. It was perhaps a little underseasoned, but by the time I was half way done I could tell why; this was a patty made from premium beef, and it shone without the need for seasoning, bacon, cheese or sauces.

And finally, fittingly, I feel I should mention the ciabatta bun. Initially it confused me; it struck me as an unecessary extravagance, present only to add an air of elegance to the burger. But after a half hour under the juicy half pound patty, I noticed with amazement that the bun base had maintained it’s integrity. Soaked with juice and yet still graspable, the ciabatta bun really made me realise that this burger wasn’t good by accident, it was well thought out.

Oh, and there were herb seasoned fries, with a horse radish aioli; decent, but entirely too fancy for the otherwise delicately crafted experience.

+ Freshly cooked patty, inspired use of ciabatta bun, extremely fresh vegetables, excellent overall construction, and it’s only $11.

- The fries complicated the simplicity of the burger, the lettuce leaf was really much too large.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Half Pound Angus Burger, at Nordstrom Grill, Bellevue