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8 oz. Burger Bar Seattle (Part Deux)

The 8 oz Burger Bar

If there is anything to be learned in life, it’s this. There is no such thing as too many burger photos.

The 8 oz Burger Bar in Seattle sits smack on broadway on Capitol Hill, you simply can’t miss it. It’s near the legendary Quinn’s, my reigning favorite Seattle burger, and I have to say, I admire the moxie of their bullocks for opening a burger bar within the blasting radius of a god.

I ordered the 8 Oz – house blend sirloin, tri-tip, short rib, and chuck, iceberg lettuce, pickle, tomato, onion, light special sauce, and a slab of cave-aged gruyère cheese.

There really isn’t much to critique at this point kids. This was the real deal. Fresh, Real, Legit ingredients. Assembled neatly and with purpose. A large juicy patty, sumptuous, and cooked to order. My god. And they let the gorgeous meat speak for itself without a cluttered mess of other shit fighting for attention. Harmony. Astutely melted cheese. A very thinly sliced pickle, as all pickles should be. A little shredded lettuce and slices of onion and tomato. A soft and chewy bun. This is a very well sourced, prepared, and served burger. No question. Someone in the kitchen has pride. And rightfully so.

I do believe, no matter how slightly, that there is some wiggle room for improvement here. And with full transparency I’m being a burger snob asshole nitpicker at this point, I admit as much.

The burger was on the saltier side of the tracks, noticeable even to a salt whore such as myself. Ease up sunshine. And given the quality of the lettuce, shredded julienned iceberg was just not necessary. Would have I preferred a bit more toast on my buns? Yes. And maybe a bit more cheese on the meat? Absolutely.

But in the end, I ate surprisingly well. Very well. I’m happy to say that 8 oz makes an exceptional burger and I can’t wait to return. I can’t lie. I want their short rib grilled cheese.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Bob’s Burgers and Brew

bob's burgers and brews

Don’t call it a come back, my rappers retirement was merely a breif respite from beef eating. Now, my return to the ring has been one of controversy, bad beef, and silicon implants. Spurred frightfully on by a man named Bob, a force so outrageous and discomforting, something had to be done. I just had to come back.

Bob’s Burgers and Brew in Everett was the stop. One of 10 or so locations found in northwest Washington. A decent little shop from what I recall back in the days of Bellingham eating. Clearly, things are different now.

As champions around here it’s fitting we chose to review the self-proclaimed “true meal fit for a champion”, the Ranch Burger. A six ounce charbroiled patty with american cheese, lean meaty bacon (whatever that may be) and a large farm fresh egg. As my penchant for chesse does not extend to it’s evil step sister, american cheese, I became a sauce-on-sider for the moment and upgraded to swiss cheese. Upon arrival, to the side resided a stack of garden; tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, and savory sauce.

Let’s begin this tale with what went right. The bun was toasted. And toasted well. Thank god for that. The vegetables were serviceable. Mostly fresh, mostly crisp, and mostly appealing. And the biggest plus of all, the savory sauce was on the side. Plus three trillion points for that. Goopy, separated, lardtastic and freakish in color. Like the color of a cheap bandaid, only less appetizing.

And then there was the rest of the plate. Ok. Hold on here. I’m sorry. But no self respecting ranch would ever murder an egg like that. Overcooked, rubbery, and sad. The yolk chalky like powdered sulfur. It could have been used to make fireworks.

The cheese was unusually sweaty and wet. That midpoint fail area when the cheese is between chilled and melted but distinctly neither. That or it had been crying. Given it’s treatment, entirely possible.

The bacon was low end stock grocery store and about as memorable as Phyllis Diller in Scooby Doo. Sorry Phyllis.

So what about the beef you say, that grey disc of mystery hidden underneath the silicon egg implant? Yeah. That wasn’t good either. Previously frozen. Bland. Insipid. Hurtful. And very likely the reason I spent the rest of my evening streaming hilarious content to my ipad while sitting on the toilet.

Bob’s joke extends from the burger to the “brews”. Nine or so selections of beer, none made in house, most of which were domestic beers for the masses. Coors, Bud light, and the rest of the liquid criminals. Among beer drinking brethren, “brew” on your sign out front has meaning – A decent selection of real beer. Hell, there were more umbrella drinks on the menu then brews. Not the end of the world, but stop lying to me Bob.

+ I give hooves up for a nice bun, nicely toasted, and to whomever made the call to serve the savory sauce on the side.

– I give hooves down for just about everything else. And waiter dude. Dear god. Self-medicate much?

Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

Bob’s Burgers and Brew

Crossroads Bar & Grill

crossroads bar & grill

Ah yes. The sweet smell of legitimacy. Let a multinational corporate chain restaurant (known as a garbage truck called Chili’s) go out of business, and replace it with a local bar and grill. The stage is set.

I ordered the Diablo 1/2 Pounder burger. Complete with a cayenne-seasoned burger, pepper-jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion & chipotle mayo. I like my shit spicy, what can I say.

I’ll be honest. When the burger landed it looked bad. Something permissible only to those who relish sublime mediocrity.

Regardless, I destroyed the burger and I have to say it was decent. The beef did not seem freshly ground, more of the preformed pinch. Was it frozen? I dunno. But it was alright. The cheese was fully melted and even. The veggies were par for the course and they gave ample, nice looking avocado slices. The chipotle mayo was alright. Or maybe I am just yawn about chipotle mayos these days. The blackened cayenne seasoning was a very nice touch. Not something I would recommend to all but in this particular case it turned out well.

I’d like to give the bar & grill the benefit of the doubt, having just recently opened and still kinda finding their way through their stuff. Maybe down the road they’ll improve? If not, in current form they still pawn Chili’s. And thank god for that.

+ I give hooves up for ample, good looking avocado and a nice cayenne seasoning

– I give hooves down for very ok beef and an overly toasted bun

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Sengelmann Hall

sengelmann hall

As we travel around we like to experience all the burgers of the world. So although this is not a Seattle burger, consider this one in a line of many future guest burgers.

On a recent trip to the sticks of Texas I had the pleasure of hitting up Sengelmann Hall, a combination restaurant, czech bakery, dance hall, saloon, biergarten, and concert venue beautifully restored from its original 1890’s construction.

Their burger is described as a Fayette County beef burger on a house-made bun, with house-made pickles and mayo. Although not mentioned, it also comes with sweet red onion, beautiful tomatoes, real stone ground mustard, green leaf lettuce, and horseradish mayo.

Sengelmann Hall is also a Czech bakery and it shows. This burger easily included one of the best hamburger buns I have had. Chewy and moist with a slight buttery sweetness brushed on top. Simply gorgeous. The vegetables were all lovely with the homemade pickles clearly standing out above the garden. However, the red onions were less than sweet and very over powering. I had to remove a few rings to restore balance and harmony.

The horseradish mayo was interesting. For me, it mostly worked. Yes it was a bit strong. Yes it slightly overpowered other elements of the burger. And yes, I can definitely see a lot of people not digging it. Had it been a bit more evenly spread and maybe used a little less liberally, I think it could have tremendous.

Then there was the beef. Very nice, as one should expect in a state full of cattle. A very clean tasting beef. It was nice. I would mention, however, that it definitely suffered from a bit too lean of a grind making it a bit dry midway through. I think it could have been slightly juicier and perhaps even a bit less seasoned. Otherwise is was legit.

If you ever happen to find yourself in the sticks of Texas, I would definitely pay Sengelmann Hall a visit. A good burger at a very reasonable price, a beautiful building, legit history, and the staff was Texas wonderful.

+ I give hooves up for a very top tier homemade bun, and clean tasty beef

– I give hooves down for over-powering red onion, and a bit lean grind of beef

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.sengelmannhall.com

Elliot Bay Brewing Company

elliot bay brewing company

If there is a safe menu item on a brew pub menu, it has to be the burger. Brew pub, screw up the burger and a plague on both your houses. The Northwest, aka the Pacific Northwest for those that have yet to learn the northwest only borders one ocean, is a beer mecca. In my opinion this regions pumps out more quality brew than any other in the country with a limitless number of brews and producers. Thankfully beer and burgers go well together. Like KP and bruised ankles.

The Elliot Bay Brewing company in west Seattle is cozy and inviting. Kick ass jazz from the swing era helps. They host a selection of gourmet burgers from your typical to your specialties, such as freshly ground all natural buffalo, and claim to be the best burgers in West Seattle. I ordered up the crumbled blue and bacon burger with, you guessed it, crumbled bleu cheese and thick slices of bacon on a natural 1/3rd pound Angus beef patty.

This burger was a ratio clusterfuck. We’ve spoken before about the ratio of beef to cheese to bun to toppings, and though there is no precise magical formula on the ratios, nor should there be, too much or too little of something can straight ruin a hamburger. There is simply no way this was a 1/3rd of a pound patty. Maybe a 1/13th lb. So thin, it could only be cooked to one wellness. The bun, although chewy and delightful, drowned out any reasonable relationship it might have once had with the beef. This was like a burger humbow. The vegetables were relevant and crisp. The bacon chewy with little in the way of crunch or crispness, a little too soft and flabby for my taste. The blue cheese was nice but overly plentiful on such a small patty. So little beef and so much cheese. In the end, I found myself chewing bread and blue cheese with intermittent bits of veggies, bacon, and beef.

So little in the way of beef I have almost no qualitative review of the actual beef. Sad. Decent ingredients woefully assembled in unwelcomed harmony.

+ I give hooves up for a charming bun and relevant vegetables

– I give hooves down for so little beef, and in turn, so much bun and so much cheese

The crumbled blue cheese and bacon burger at the Elliot Bay Brewing Company in west Seattle

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

www.elliotbaybrewing.com

Two Bells Tavern

two bells tavern

Located in the heart of darkness, the Belltown region of Seattle, Two Bells Tavern puts the old in old school. They have been around since the days of prohibition and long before the pretense and faux hipsters took over the neighborhood. Two Bells is content in their ways, rightfully so, so don’t come looking for kobe beef, wasabi vanilla bean sauce, or other amenities. Two Bells seems unwilling to deviate from what has worked forever. And thank god for that.

You’ll notice two things with a Two Bells burger. First, the french baguette bun that is chewy and pretty, and two, the rounded rectangular patty construed to fit such a thing. In many ways this is a love or hate relationship, baguettes being the atypical vessel for a burger, so choose your side.

I went with the Tavern Burger, 5 ounces of freshly ground beef charbroiled to order with grilled onions and bacon. I made the call to add Jarlsberg cheese, a very swiss-like cheese from Norway. In addition, all Two Bells burgers come with mayo and mustard on the roll and tomato, lettuce, pickles and red onion on the side, with the exception of my Tavern Burger which already included a heap of grilled onions.

Right off the bat, this burger is gorgeous and simple. Juicy as all get out and very appetizing to the eye. I was slightly miffed that they don’t do fries because a good french fry pairs so well with a burger. So I settled on some salted kettle chips.

The baguette bun was nice. Chewy and fresh without being overly crispy and hard on the outside. Truth be told, despite this it was still a bit difficult to eat without toppling the structure into a pile of mess. And honestly it wasn’t the best baguette I have ever had. It was good but nothing epic. But it worked.

The beef was stellar. Very fresh, juicy without being greasy, it had a lovely texture seemingly only found in fresh grinds, and it was cooked to order and perfection. Clearly this chef loves his ingredients.

The cheese was thick, even, and melted as it should be. More often than not I have found these places that offer top tier cheese choices tend to skimp hard on the quantity. Not here. The bacon, though I have had better, was very nice. Crispy and smokey and extremely complementary.

The onions were perfectly grilled, not sloppy and oily. Freshly grilled with that slight crunch in the middle. Nice lettuce and tomato with a pickle spear on the side rounded out the garden. The mustard and mayo were very lightly applied and stayed out of the way.

In the end this is what a burger should be. Simple, unfussy, prepared correctly with quality fresh ingredients. Straight forward with no gimmicks, no bullshits, just a delicious time honor tradition from the past.

+ We give hooves up for delicious beef ground fresh and cooked perfectly, beautiful cheese, and top tier grilled onions.

– We give hooves down for a bun that made it hard to eat and had room for improvement, and maybe for a slightly small portion size. I wanted more.

The Tavern burger at Two Bells tavern

Rating: ★★★★½ 

www.thetwobells.com

Broiler Bay

broiler bay

Broiler Bay in downtown Bellevue has been around for over twenty years serving up burgers, hot sandwiches, fries, and shakes. Their longevity speaks for itself, at least louder than any burger slag review you’ll see here. And their claim that their charbroiled patties are juicy and fresh of the charbroiler is enough to get me in the door to write just such a thing.

The bacon cheeseburger was my pick. Simple enough. I chose swiss, my typical choice if white cheddar is not an option.

The burger came on a typical stock bun, nothing special, but the poor thing was toasted to hell and back and rivaled the toast from a broken toaster. The bottom bun was hard as a rock with a cardboard quality to it. My swiss cheese was amply portioned and nicely melted. The bacon, although average industry standard grade, was ok. It came with a nice simple mayonaise, nothing fancy or pretentious. Your normal garden fare made an appearance, lettuce tomato, and onion. Sadly the lettuce was truly the lettuce of hatred. Pre-shredded bagged lettuce leaning heavily on the white side was epic sadness. The snappy bitter white pieces where everywhere and truly disappointing. Then there was the beef. Nicely charbroiled but otherwise uninspiring. Certainly not the freshest or tastiest beef I’ve ever had but nothing demeaning to all things culinary.

My side of fries were a step above ok and par for the course.

Sadly I really wanted to like Broiler Bay. A locally owned business in operation for over twenty years is the type of place I cheer for. But in the end my cheering couldn’t overcome an otherwise boring little hamburger framed with righteously bad lettuce. I tried. I really did.

+ I give hooves up for the nice melted swiss cheese

– I give serious hooves down for spiteful lettuce and the UPS store bottom hamburger bun

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

www.broilerbay.com

Zak’s

zak's

Zak’s in Ballard is all about the burger. It’s a burger joint after all so don’t come looking for much else. The menu is simple and straight forward with 1/3lb beef patties instead of the seemingly industry standard of 1/4lb. They have a choice selection of “ice cream drinks”, think shakes and malts, and they have a nice little round up of a few brews for the thirsty and riotous.

To continue with the theme of simplicity I went with the straight forward bacon cheese burger instead of the Big Johnson (double meat, double cheese, double bacon). Outside of the bacon and cheese (Tillimook cheddar) the standard support cast at Zak’s includes mayo, mustard, ketchup, pickle, onion, and iceberg lettuce.

The burger arrived and it was immediately obvious that the cheese was not fully melted, hell it wasn’t hardly partially melted. It was more like sweated. But to be fair there was enough going on with the burger in other areas to bring it back from the depths of ridicule.

The bun was a beautifully chewy kaiser roll with gorgeous mouthfeel. The bacon was divine. Excellent, thick cut, with a heavy yet delightful pork flavor. So thick it was like a slice of bacon ham. Legit pig. The veggies were nice, especially the iceberg lettuce, but they seemed marred by stock ketchup and mustard. I don’t feel ketchup ever belongs on my burger, at least serve it on the side for those that prefer it, and although I love a good mustard that generic yellow jobber posing as mustard will simply never suffice.

The beef was ok. It had some nice beef flavor but didn’t live up to the “100% fresh ground chuck” claim. The texture and flavor just didn’t seem fresh to me but to be fair it was a far cry from bad. Amid all my misgivings, Zak’s is exactly what it claims to be. A burger joint.

+ I give hooves up for a charming kaiser bun and some very legit bacon

– I give hooves down for unmelted cheese, sad generic yellow mustard, and beef that could have been better

The bacon cheese burger at Zak’s

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

www.zaksinballard.com

King’s Hardware

kings hardware

King’s Hardware, bonus points for a legit name, is a pub bar in the purest sense. Brick walls, booze and taps abound, and a lot of thirsty patrons. I recommend sitting outside in the patio/brick area. More chill, less noise, and cool bricks.

King’s Hardware has some very nice burger options on their menu. In addition to your normal beef fare, there is The Cowboy, with a fried egg and bacon. The Five Alarm, with roasted poblano chilis, chipotle sauce, and pepper jack cheese. The Not Buffalo burger, with frank’s red hot, blue cheese, and an onion ring. All made with natural, organic, clean Oregon beef.

I went with the Cowboy burger, bacon and a fried egg with the usual toppings. You know, just like REAL cowboys used to eat back in the day. The burger came on a kaiser-esque roll which was nice, however, a little bit dry. At least the top half was. This burger came without sauce which it didn’t honestly need in terms of flavor. And the bottom bun was nicely moistened by the burger itself. But the problem was the top bun portion being thicker and residing away from the meat was a little dry for me. The vegetables were all very nice. Gorgeous and fresh as expected. Although there was one little issue in the garden. Wait for it, wait for it…. sweet pickles!! They tried to slip sweet pickles onto my burger. Get fucking real.

Having removed the vileness, lets continue.

The bacon was well above average. Very smoky, and very complimentary. The beef was legit. Very fresh, nice and juicy, with excellent flavor and not greasy in any sense of the word. The kicker was the patty was sadly overcooked, more of a medium well fire. A shame given the quality, and that I had requested medium. And speaking of chef dunce cap, the fried egg was more of a fried egg scramble and criminally over cooked. All fried eggs intent on crowning a burger should have some varying degree of runny yoke. These guidelines are all but factual and are not open for review or discussion. A rubber egg on a burger in no way adds anything positive.

In the end, I’m really harping on the flaws. Had this burger been saved by thirty seconds and pulled off the grill along with the poor egg, this burger would have joined another rank. This is a good burger. But it could have been great.

+ I give hooves up for very beautiful beef, nice fresh vegetables, a good solid bun, and $1 off during happy hour.

– I give hooves down for slightly overcooked beef, well overcooked egg, and oh dear god trojan horse sweet pickles.

The Cowboy burger at King’s Hardware

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.kingsballard.com

Red Mill

red mill burgers
In the interest of formality one might have noticed that we already felt up Red Mill and posted our thoughts. True. But to the mindful observer we have been scoring individual burgers on this site, not the actual establishments themselves. This leaves the door open to revisits and to try alternative burgers at familiar places. Besides, in the end who can argue with more burgerage?

Red Mill revisited. I went with the blue cheese n bacon burger, which apart from its name, shares the same foundation as any other burger at Red Mill except this dad entails a kaiser bun. Why the discriminatory bun practices? I’m not sure. Their kaiser buns are sublimely legit and levels beyond compare to their regular buns. When ordering take note of what bun you’re getting. It matters.

As always the toppings at Red Mill are very good. This place knows how to do their toppings. Sexy ass veggies including sweet red onion, nice tomatoes, beautiful red/green leaf lettuce (although I do prefer iceberg on my burger). Their pickle is really the only vegetable that could be improved. It’s weak. Their bacon is excellent and some of the best burger bacon one is likely to find. A nice smokey peppered bacon both chewy and crispy where it counts.

Note – It comes as a slight personal annoyance that they put all the toppings below the beef. This method could merit a post of its own but for now, I call them toppings for the purpose of describing where they ought to be.

Red Mill’s “Mill sauce”, a slightly smokey peppy mayoesque conncoction, was nice. Unusually tangy this time around but I didn’t mind. The blue cheese was ok, nothing outstanding in terms of blue cheese, but no complaints.

The beef, as always at Red Mill, is simply uninspiring. Always over cooked, rarely juicy and flavorful, I just can’t get behind their patties. So this begs the question. How does one score such a burger? A mediocre piece of beef wrapped in generously gorgeous attire? I’m opening this one up to debate, but today I call it like I see it.

And for the record, never ever order the fries at Red Mill. They are made from potatoes that hate your soul.

+ I give hooves up for a sick kaiser bun, excellent vegetables, some of the best burger bacon around, and a fairly harmonious package that photographs very well.

– I give hooves down for insipid, dry, disappointing beef and underwhelming pickles.

The blue cheese n bacon burger at Red Mill Burgers

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.redmillburgers.com

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