Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ Category

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 

Coho Cafe

Coho Cafe

The Coho Cafe is a locally-owned pair of restaurants on Seattle’s Eastside – one in Redmond, one in Issaquah.  The Redmond location is a nice place to go for happy hour if you work at Microsoft.  I’ve been a regular customer of both locations over the years, and overall the food is very good – but the burger has never been better than average.

They’re active on Twitter and over the last couple of months we’ve had several conversations where I’ve shared what I think makes a good burger.  Whether that played into the changes or not, Coho has an all-new burger on the menu.  In their own words the Coho Cafe Burger is a hand-formed patty covered in aged white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a “secret sauce” – and like all good burgers is available with smoked bacon.

This burger made a great first impression.  Everything looked great, and a once-over showed that the burger was assembled with care.  The cheese was melted, the bun was toasted, and the veggies were fresh.  After a couple of bites it was clear that my burger was also the medium-rare I’d asked for.  The bun was nice – clearly not mass-produced – and held up well throughout the meal.  Overall it’s a very satisfying burger.

There aren’t a lot of knocks on this burger.  The first is the degree of verticality.  When I attacked it, the burger was a little too tall to comfortably get a bite of everything at once.  I’ll lay this at the feet of a fairly large piece of lettuce, but after a few bites everything compressed into an more easily eaten form factor.  The second would be the red onion, which was sliced too thin for my taste.  If there’s going to be red onion on my burger, I want it to come with some crunch so that I know it’s there.

The fries were solid, and there are some good beers on tap.

+ Solid ingredients all around, treated right.

– Too much lettuce, red onion sliced too thin.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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

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

Nordstrom Grill

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

George’s

Situated in the heart of downtown Kirkland, George’s is hard to place on the food chain. At one end of the menu they have a dozen variations on our good friend the burger, and immediately below that is an extensive collection of Greek dishes dripping in tzatziki.

We were here for the burger though, and so I went with the recommended option, “George’s Deluxe Bacon Cheese Burger”.

The stack of meat and vegetables which arrived shortly thereafter presented quite a quandry. The thick, toasted, focaccia bun gave an excellent texture to start everything off, followed by some of the freshest tomatos and onions I have had recently. The thousand island dressing was thinly applied, and really brought out the flavour of the vegetables. The shredded lettuce did nothing to excite me, but it was crispy and if nothing else added a interesting texture to the middle of the burger. There were even a couple of pickles hiding in there; treading the right side of the fine line between overwhelming and flavouring.

It went downhill from here. The bacon was fine. The cheese was fine. Nothing in the bottom half of the burger popped for me; the bacon wasn’t bad, but it could have been crispier. The cheese was some of the least offensive American cheese I have ever had, but it was no sharp cheddar.

And finally, the patty, provided a quandry in itself. The meat was seasoned really well, and just by looking you could tell it was going to be a juicy experience. It held together well as I ate, which is more than I could say for the bottom half of the focaccia bun, which after 5 minutes under the juicy patty had been reduced to a wafer thin after thought.

And yet, the burger failed to satisfy. Ultimately, it was a case of the patty being overwhelmed by the toppings.

+ Toasted bun, fresh vegetables, juciy patty, good structure.

- Uninspiring meat, TOO juicy, boring bacon and cheese.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

George’s Deluxe Bacon Cheese Burger, at George’s

EDIT: It was brought to my attention that I rated George’s unexpectedly highly. This was a decision I had made based on the recent review of Herfy’s Burger, and my belief that, while uninspiring, George’s was better than Herfy’s. I have reversed my score to the original 3/5, and will instead just append this comment that I thought Herfy’s sucked.

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

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

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

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