Author Archive

The Counter

the counter

So the story goes, step into The Counter and you’re greeted with a clipboard and an extensive list of fresh mouth-watering ingredients that allow you to build your own gourmet burger with over 312,120 different burger combinations. Yes. That’s not a typo. 312,120 different ways to enjoy a burger. Dear god. Why so many? This worries me. A zillion option gimmicky check-list of a menu does not excite me. Why? Because I want a limited option menu with high turnover. With that many options and ingredients on a menu, I know for certain that some are laying around. And not fresh. Besides, apricot sauce does not ever ever belong on a hamburger. NEVER. Trust me.

Despite the options, I stayed the course and ordered the pre-fab Old School burger, which included all natural ground beef, tillamook cheddar, shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and sweet red relish (whatever the hell that is).

The burger arrived and immediately I noticed the beef. Gorgeous. Cooked perfectly with a nice wafting aroma of quality beef in the air. The bun, which appeared to be like an egg bun was very lacking. It was a bit thin and kind of out of place. The veggies did not promote inspiration. The lettuce, sliced red leaf, was ok but included its fair share of those thick white pieces. The tomatos were lovely but, wait for it……. wait for it….. Diced! Seriously? The onion was thumbs up and the tillamook cheddar warrants no complaints. The beef, well, it was surprisingly good. Juicy, full flavored and really well expressed by the chef. Just a simple seasoning of nice salt, it had a kind of steak-flavor character to it. Very nicely done.

All and all, despite my reservations surrounding the concept and menu, the horrific music and slightly yuppified atomsphere, my first visit to the Counter was surprisingly better than expected and warrants a return. Though I am still not sold on the menu concept, the expression of the beef was very nice.

+ We give hooves up for very nice all-natural beef, cooked and seasoned to perfection, and gorgeous cheese meltage.

– We give hooves down for an out of place bun, middle of the road lettuce, and ill prepared diced tomatoes that went off like fireworks from all corners of the burger upon bite one

The old school burger at The Counter

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.thecounterburger.com

Blue Moon

blue moon burgers

Blue Moon Burgers near lake Union in Seattle does something few burger joints succeed at. Harmony. After multiple visits this holds true. All components of the burger work in harmony. Nothing over powers any other element. The cheese marries with the sauce, the veggies with the beef, the bun with, well, everything. Not to say there aren’t better burgers, because there are, but very few burgers pull off this level of harmony.

This time around I went with the bacon cheese burger, a straight forward classic. They have other nice looking options on the menu, including one with peanut butter, the Stupid Burger as I recall it named, but I gave that one a pass.

My burger was nice. Blue Moon procures very lofty, soft buns. Nice and chewy with very generous mouth feel. I don’t believe the bun was toasted but for once I didn’t mind. The veggies are nice, gorgeous ice berg lettuce, some decent red onions and tomatoes. Nothing award winning going on in the garden but nice nonetheless. Their swiss was nice cheese and melted perfectly. Their bacon was yawn actually. Permissible on a burger but very average. Their in house sauce is similar to others, a mayonaise based concoction with a light refreshing flavor and not as heavy and gloppy as others. I really enjoyed the interplay with the fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce. That being said there was a bit too much sauce on my burger for my liking. A little less sauce would have been admirable.

Now. With the supporting cast of characters set, their actual beef seems a bit under classed. Kind of dry, lethargic, and lacking the freshness and texture of a good beef patty. I’d like to see more here, I really would. The beef is the centerpiece of a hamburger, after all, and with a healthy supporting cast this burger just demands a better patty.

+ We give hooves up for a very nice chewy, fluffy bun, a very nice refreshing sauce/dressing, and beautiful fresh crisp iceberg lettuce.

– We give hooves down for the dry, uninspired beef, a bit too much sauce, and for being a bit chincey with the sweet red onions.

The bacon cheeseburger at Blue Moon Burgers

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.bluemoonburgers.com

Palace Kitchen

palace kitchen

One of several Seattle’ based Tom Douglas restaurants, the Palace Kitchen is nestled neatly below the overheard monorail tracks in downtown Seattle, not too far from another excellent Seattle restaurant, Brasa. I’ve eaten here several times and enjoyed my belly stuffing escapades, but this was my first go around with their hamburger. I’ve been hearing about it at length from several sources and quite honestly, no Seattle hamburger discussion is legit without some mention of this burger.

The burger, or palace burger royale as it is known, is a wood-grilled Oregon country beef patty with beechers flagship white cheddar, some nice applewood smoked bacon, and all the traditional accompaniments (red onion, lettuce, pickles, etc). The housemade mayo is also a nice touch and comes on the side. Fries here are definitely above average, skin-on just the way I like them, but a tad bit greasy. Now at $15 plus an additional few bucks for the cheese and bacon, this baby is clearly the most expensive hamburger yet to make its debut on our site. So does it deliver?

First off, the burger looks gorgeous. Good sized patty, a giant pile of fries, nice crisp vegetables on the side. This is a serious pile of food going on here. Come hungry. The bacon is crispy and flavorful. The bun, although not award winning, does nothing wrong. And I’ve already praised the delicious housemade mayo. No complaints whatsoever with the veggies, all gorgeous and tasty. The cheese, although exceptional, was only on about 25% of the burger, clumped in one area as if it were quarantined from spreading. The beef was slightly undercooked, though not really a huge detractor for me, and quite lovely. What wasn’t quite lovely was what was “in” the beef. The seasoning was heavy and incredibly salty, easily the saltiest meal I have had in recent memory. I’m not sure if this is par for the course or the anomaly, but man, I could barely finish my burger it was so salty. And I love salt. Don’t get me wrong. This is a good hamburger. Without all the salt I can see this burger finishing very high up in our rankings. Perhaps we’ll revisit in the future, but for this round I rate the burger in front of me and this burger was just way too salty.

+ We give hooves up for gorgeous vegetables, nice homemade mayo, and very nice beef

– We give hooves down for being way too salty, a slightly undercooked beef patty, and for uneven cheese

The palace burger royale with beechers and bacon

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.tomdouglas.com

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

five guys

Ah yes. Five Guys Burgers and Fries. If you have one of these near you I definitely recommend you seek out and destroy one of their burgers. I’m not going to go into detail about the place, they are nationwide and have a healthy web presence. Honestly, I have a few easy take aways from my numerous encounters with the place. First off, their fries are legit. Freshly cut, skin on, deep fried in 100% fresh peanut oil, they are good. Damn good. Few, if any, burger franchises can match their fries. Secondly, they are consistent. I’m not sure there is much variation from a good day to a bad day at Five Guys. And lastly, they are very reasonably priced and they source quality ingredients.

The ever popular conversation around these parts is how Five Guys matches up to the juggernaut Red Mill, arguably the top two fast food/burger joints around. For me, quite frankly, time and time again I’m finding Five Guys beats Red Mill. I think the beef is levels better, the fries are better, and they are tiers more consistent. I’ll call the bun a wash and give Red Mill props for better bacon, better toppings, better choice of cheese and clearly better hype. By a slim margin, I give Five Guys the nod.

Having said that, Five Guys has room for improvement. The bun is stock and noticeably lacking a nice toast. I’ve seen their buns on the grill toasting but time and time again the toast simply doesn’t translate well to the finished product. Their toppings are nice but they don’t deliver anything extraordinary. And their cheese is stock american, which is an unwelcomed addition to all things culinary in my world.

+ We give hooves up for excellent juicy beef given the category, great value in terms of price, and a very harmonious burger dinning experience. Everything works well together.

– We give hooves down for a stock untoasted bun that just doesn’t seem to hold up, and wank cheese.

Five Guys Burger and Fries hamburger

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

www.fiveguys.com

Quinn’s Pub

quinn's pub

I have been hearing about the burger at Quinn’s Pub on Capital Hill for some time now. Last night I finally got up enough motivation and spite to pay them a visit. Known as a gastro pub, a pub which is gastronomically sound AKA serves delicious quality food yet remains true to it’s pub roots. Frankly, the idea seems illogical in some sense. I mean, who goes to a pub looking for high-brow pretentious food and the wankers that often times frequent such places? Well, honestly, when pulled off correctly a gastro pub makes all the sense in the world. Great beer and great food. Without the idiots.

The Quinn’s Pub burger is, in a word, exceptional. A 1/2 pound patty of gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous beef from the people at Painted Hills. A lovely melted slice of cheese, white cheddar I believe, and a generous slag of quality bacon. Add to the equation a ridiculously serious bun and some nice fresh mayo and the burger is complete. No lettuce, no tomato, no pickle, no onion, no nothing else. Sans rabbit food, This burger is a statement.

What might strike most as a glaring burger oversight, the risk involved with a vegetable-free burger is tremendous, is simply executed with perfection at Quinn’s. The beef is so absurdly good that it serves as both the main event and supporting cast that provides that accompanying freshness that most burgers rely on earthy toppings for. Quinn’s burger is legit and lives up to everything one can hope for in a hamburger, providing us all with hope and a reason to live.

+ We give hooves up for Exceptional beef, cooked to order, and one of the best burger buns one is ever likely to consume.

– We give possible hooves down for lacking any vegetables, though this is an extreme stretch as I’m still searching for a negative with this burger. It’s that good.

The burger at Quinn’s Pub

Rating: ★★★★★ 

www.quinnspubseattle.com

Wibbley’s Gourmet Hamburgers

wibbley's gourmet hamburgers

So what does one do with a burger that does nothing? It doesn’t do anything criminal. It doesn’t do anything enlightening. It just is, like culinary driftwood in the sea. How does one judge such a thing?

Ok. So Wibbley’s Gourmet Hamburgers. Let’s cut right to the chase here folks. First off, there is nothing “gourmet” going on here. Standard toppings, standard beef, stock buns, and plain old genericness at its finest. And please don’t mistake this for bad. But in commonly understood english where my fluency lays, this meets no definition of gourmet.

My Wibbley’s Gourmet Hamburger was more generic, if anything. A normal beef patty, shredded lettuce (from a bag), loads of ok pickles, an ok tomato, and some decent mayo-esque dressing between the buns. There was no onion, which elsewhere surely would have made the cut on a gourmet burger. And having made the choice to forego cheese and bacon, both were marked absent. A relatively rare move in my world, but not every burger every time requires as much. Besides, I’m not sure it would have mattered much anyways.

In a word, Wibbley’s is simply burger driftwood in the sea of the burger world.

+ We give hooves up for being a mile ahead of satans infamous burger circle (McDonalds, Burger King, and Jack in the Box).

– We give hooves down for being boring, ok, and audaciously ungourmet. An untoasted bun, bagged lettuce, no onion, and oh. Yawn.

The Wibley’s Gourmet hamburger

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

The Brown Bag Cafe

the brown bag cafe

The Brown Bag Cafe in Kirkland WA, a place better known for their Buick-sized portions than their burgers, was not my idea of a good burger house. Large portions tend to scare me off for fear the chef respects quantity more than quality. I don’t want a giant pile of food if it’s mediocre food I’m in store for. Known for their giant breakfasts and housemade breads, could they really do a proper burger?

Well,the buns are delicious, made in-house, grilled then buttered and are easily the highlight of the burger. The burger meat is nice with a pretty slice of melted cheddar. Nothing outstanding but nicely done. The bacon is crispy, heavy on the hickory flavor, and a nice touch. Liberally sauced with simple mayonnaise spread evenly. But then in march the stock vegetables. The lettuce, insipid and bland like all pre-shredded bagged lettuce is. The tomatoes, off colored and watery in flavor. The pickles, well, as stock as stock can be. The onions, however, are nice but do little in the way of making up for the rest of the garden. A nice effort, a decent all around burger that actually exceeded expectations.

+ We give hooves up for the baked in-house buns, delicious and well toasted, and a cooked-to order beef patty.

– We give hooves down for seriously insipid vegetables, a tad too much mayonaise, and a slightly forgettable burger.

The bacon cheese burger at the Brown Bag Cafe

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

www.brownbagcafes.com

Jak’s Grill



Jak’s Grill in Issaquah, WA is notorious for having one of the best burgers around. Period. Some of the best ground beef anywhere, cooked to order with a limited selection of toppings to get in the way. Nice vegetables, nice toppings, and reasonably priced. There really isn’t much not to love.

But this legendary burger does have some room for improvement. The bun, primarily, is very ok and made more glaringly ok by the quality of the beef. The sauce on the bun is globed in the center and not spread evenly. And the cheese, though excellent, is inconsistent. Sometimes fully melted, sometimes not. And the fries. Well, we recommend the onion rings or potato pancakes instead.

In the end, the Jak’s burger is still a giant among burger legends and showcases all that is good and decent in the burger world. If you eat meat, like burgers, and dislike the Jak’s burger – you have no love in your heart.

+ We give hooves up for remarkable beef quality, cooked to order, nice veggies and toppings, all at a reasonable price.

– We give hooves down for an ok bun and inconsistent cheese meltage.

The Jak’s burger at Jak’s Grill

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

www.jaksgrill.com

Mad Cow, and what a burger is NOT

gordo's in ballard

In the interest of semantics let’s define what a burger is NOT. This list is not exhaustive, but any place reviewed and scored well by me will refrain from the following.

Bad beef. Or previously frozen beef, which is bad by another definition. Grey beef, that crap we’ve all seen and eaten, albeit drunk at 2am. Overly processed beef, and by processed I mean containing beef from more than 2.5 million anabolic cows. Beef that is artificially greasy, like a lard burger with pockets of ground beef. Beef that is overly cooked. This is legitbeef, not legitpuck. Treat your beef properly by cooking it to order, unless that order happens to be well done in which case shoot the customer. In short, I want clean, fresh, tasty beef cooked properly by someone who cares.

Bad cheese. Fake cheese. The crap that comes wrapped in plastic like a bad gift. Cheese from a can. Pre-shredded cheese that belongs on an angry bad taco. Cheese that is melted on the outside yet cold and hard in the middle. Folks, cheese is an art. Put Pollock on my burger and I become angry.

Bad sauces. Old sauces. Separated sauces. Gimmicky sauces. No one wants to see chipotle vanilla beam cream fraiche burger sauce despite the fact that it legitimizes the $18 price tag. It’s crap. We don’t want it. Trust me. If all else fails, relax, you have a fail safe back up. Simple proper mayonaise is always welcomed.

Bad vegetables. Old vegetables. Brown vegetables that are not normally brown. Dirty vegetables, unless you are aiming for a themed dirt burger, then maybe but it will very likely still suck. Improper vegetables, such as but not limited to carrots, radishes, beats, and turnips. They don’t belong here. Ever.

Bad miscellaneous toppings. For instance, fried mozzarella sticks dipped in mariana sauce with pickled hot chili peppers and sad pepporoni have no place in the burger world. And trust me folks, I saw this with my own eyes. I couldn’t make this one up if I tried.

Bad buns. Soggy buns. Stale buns. Stupid-encrusted buns with far too many crushed macadamia nuts adorning the outside.

To close, I learned years ago that what comes off as rant is merely passion and love in disguise. Don’t be fooled. These are burgers folks. They deserve it.

Forming the Patty

lunchbox laboratory

We searched and we searched but the Seattle area apparently lacks sufficient blog guidance on the art of regional hamburgers. Clearly, burgers are an art. And with every art there follows a parade of sites. Or so we thought.

So we decided to throw our beef hats in the ring and legitimize Seattle’s burgerdom with our own beef. Crafting our reviews and itineraries to find Seattle’s best hamburgers so you don’t have to.

No cow is safe.

*If you’ve got a Seattle area burger joint you’d like to see reviewed, hit us up.

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