Archive for the ‘Burger Joint’ Category

Blue Moon Burgers

Blue Moon Burgers

Blue Moon Burgers is a local Seattle burger restaurant with two locations.  They serve only all-natural beef and fresh-cut fries, so for a while now I’ve been trying to find the opportunity to give them a try.  Last Sunday was finally the day.

Like I always do when trying a new restaurant, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger.  At Blue Moon that means hickory smoked bacon, your choice of cheese – I chose cheddar – tomato, red onion, pickles – hold the pickles, please! – and Blue Moon sauce.  The patties are quarter-pound chuck, and I selected the potato bun.  Rather than asking for medium-rare, I let them cook it to their default medium.

When I unwrapped my burger, my first reaction was strongly positive.  I was immediately struck by the fact that this burger looked and smelled great.  Unfortunately my first bite greeted me with a big chunk of pickle, and I just can’t stand pickles.  I took the bun off, and sure enough there were three pickles waiting for me.  This always annoys me so I double-checked the receipt, and sure enough I’d ordered it without pickles.

There was also an issue with how my burger was cooked.  It definitely wasn’t done to medium – more medium-well.  Patties being overcooked is a common problem, and it’s especially disappointing at a restaurant that’s going out of their way to serve quality beef that could really shine when treated well.

On the other hand, one thing that Blue Moon definitely gets right is balance.  The ratio of burger-to-toppings-to-bun was just about perfect.  I often find that one ingredient overwhelms the others, but they nailed it.  As for the rest of the burger – everything was very good.  Nice bacon, quality veggies, the Blue Moon sauce was good, and the potato bun was just right.  You can see in the photo that the bun was toasted and the cheese was perfectly melted.  Had the cook been on his game when I’d been there this burger had the makings of greatness.

Briefly, non-burger things – I ordered both the fresh-cut fries and the side of the month – deep-fried mac & cheese.  The fries really benefited from being fresh-cut and were much better than average.  Personally, I prefer thicker cut fries because they’re less hassle to eat, but I’d always take these over anything from a freezer.  The mac & cheesewas a little dissapointing.  For me the pleasure of deep-fried mac & cheese is the hot gooeyness of them but mine were only warm, not hot.  I’m guessing that they were either too cold before going into the fryer or were cooked at a less than ideal temperature.

The vanilla shake I ordered was excellent.

+ A perfectly-balanced burger, quality beef, details like a toasted bun and melted cheese

– Stray pickles that weren’t supposed to be there, an overcooked patty

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Five Guys – KP Redux

Get what makes you happy.

Five Guys has a good name in these parts, Drew has spoken highly of them in the past and when it comes to chains, they’re about as highly regarded as they come. But all chains suck, and everybody knows that Drew is mostly full of shit, so I took a look myself.

It took a couple trips to completely wrap my head around Five Guys. The first time I went with the double cheeseburger, with the works. A good burger. However, I felt that all of their ingredients were pretty strong, all up in my grill fighting to be the headliner, overshadowing the burger. They just don’t come together to create a harmonious experience. I could not in good faith review that burger, when my stupid ass asked for the works in the first place. They gave me an out, she asked me if I wanted toppings, my naiveté prevailed.

I resolved then to return and order a burger which came without the frills, all the while maintaining the thrills. Thus I advise that when you go to Five Guys, only ask for the toppings which are completely necessary to your quintessential burger experience. The bacon cheeseburger comes with just those things (bun free with purchase), so when they ask if you want toppings, look into your heart and be honest with the lady. She’s trying to help you.

That’s not to say it’s a Lunchbox Labotomy experience, they only serve the standard toppings here, it’s just… well you get it by now. I decided to get just the burger, bacon and cheese for my second trip. I enjoyed this quite a bit more than the “works.” The beef is juicy and delicious, it’s not gourmet but neither is it low-grade. It’s perhaps the best beef you can find in a fast-food, burger joint environment.

The cheese is American. Drew hates this. Hilarious. Next time you see him be sure to ask him what it’s like to be a communist. I take no issue with American Cheese, especially a good Cooper’s Sharp American … mmm. This is just regular American, however, but it does the job well, achieving the perfect melted/congealed state. Because America is #1.

The bun and the bacon need work. Perhaps if Jimmy Carter brokered a deal between the two to share the crispiness of the bacon with the soft and chewiness of the bun, and vice versa, the world would be a better place. The bacon is too crispy, while the bun isn’t toasted or at least it’s not toasted enough to make a difference. These are nitpickings, neither is bad enough to stand out.

Overall, a very good but not great burger. Maybe next time I’ll do lettuce, pickles and mayo.

Unbeef: Yeah, they make good fries. And they are generous. Free peanuts!

+ Quality beef,  great cheese melt

– Blasé bun, bacon

Five Guys and Fries Bacon Cheeseburger (No toppings).

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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

Triple XXX Rootbeer

Triple XXX Rootbeer

Going to Triple XXX Rootbeer in Issaquah is as close as most people will ever get to going back in time.  There’s a very “Happy Days” feel to being there.  One of only two locations to remain from a once nationwide chain, Triple XXX is a destination best-known for the massive car shows on weekends.

There’s plenty of outside seating, which made it the perfect destination this past weekend when the weather suddenly turned amazing.  It’s hard to argue with the thought of a massive root beer float when it’s sunny and warm out.

I ordered a ’58 Impala, which the menu describes as a 1/2 lb burger with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, mayo, & XXX dressing – minus the pickles as they’re not my thing.  The patties were wholly average and well done to the point of being dry.  The cheese was perfectly melted, and the bacon was really good.  The lettuce was shredded iceberg, and the tomato was very thin.  Sadly, I’m really not a fan of the XXX dressing.  There was too much of it, and what I think is supposed to be a “smoky” taste just doesn’t work for me.  The bun was solid, nicely toasted, and held up well.

The fries are above average, and the root beer floats are fantastic.

+ Nicely done cheese and bacon

– Overdone beef and a house sauce that didn’t please

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

On a nice day, it’s a great destination that I’ve been a fan of for years.  Go for the experience, to check out the cars, and for the floats – but don’t go just for the burgers.

Triple XXX Burgers – http://triplexrootbeer.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

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

Blazing Onion Burger Company

Blazing Onion

Recently we got a tip via Twitter about the Blazing Onion Burger Company.  After a reading of their website, we knew we had to check it out.  Promising to deliver a gourmet burger made with top-notch beef from Painted Hills, Tillamook cheese, and even locally made buns had me hoping for greatness.  I made the trip to the Mill Creek location and ordered my standard medium-rare bacon cheeseburger.

When my burger arrived it looked very promising. The bacon was thick and appealing, the cheese was nicely melted, and my bun was toasted.  Unfortunately the taste didn’t live up to that first impression.  Instead of the medium-rare patty I was expecting, I got one that had been cooked to death – apparently the standard medium-well that you’re given if you don’t specify as I had.  Since they’re using good beef – Painted Hills is top-notch – why cook it to the point that you can’t tell what you’re eating?

The bacon was chewy with good flavor.  The cheese was solid.  The house sauce had nice flavor, but was too runny.  The tomatoes and red onion were both good, but sliced much too thin.  In the case of the red onion it was so thin that it brought almost no flavor to the burger.  The lettuce was good, but there was too much of it and it overwhelmed the burger somewhat.  The bun was really good – it was nicely toasted, and was strong enough to hold up to the end without getting too mushy.

The fries and the onion rings were really underwhelming.  Clearly fresh from a freezer, they were thoroughly meh.

+ You can’t make great food without great ingredients and all the right makings are present.  Two thumbs up for the local focus.

– The overcooked patty destroyed the potential for greatness, and paying so much attention to the main ingredients while ignoring the sides seems odd.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Herfy’s

Herfy’s is a small gourmet burger shop in Redmond that offer a variety of differently themed burgers and sandwiches. There’s enough variety to justify a  couple more trips if they’re able to nail the standard bacon double cheeseburger. Logically, if they have a firm grasp on the foundation, then there may be some merit in the rest of that menu.

A toasted bun! Holy crap. Such a simple step in the burger-making process, but so often neglected. It didn’t really save the bun from becoming saturated, however, it was a light toast with little to no browning or taste alteration. Come to think of it, there’s a possibility that it was just slightly stale instead of slightly toasted. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say toasted.

The Achilles heal of this burger is the beef. Not that the rest is invulnerable, quite the contrary, I conquered and consumed it all. The beef patties are thin, cooked to well-done with little bits of gristle detectable in a couple bites, a major no-no. Where quality beef is the star of the burger, this is far from it, merely becoming a vessel for cheese, bacon and condiments.

Taking part in diminishing the beef, the bacon was excellent and cooked to near perfection. The cheese was American, okay in my book, and melted to a gooey consistency between the patties. Complimenting that wonderful cheese was a mayo-based sauce, working in harmony with the burger. Lettuce, tomato were fine, but the pickles were too plentiful and bitter for my taste.

Unbeef: Good fries, good onion rings, good jalopeno poppers, colon-destroying jalapeno burger (ie. “good”).

+ Toasted bun, great bacon, excellent cheese, solid burger sauce.

– Over-cooked and low quality beef, pickle overload.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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

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