Archive for the ‘Steakhouse’ Category

John Howie Steak, Take 2

John Howie Steak

It’s been almost a year since the last time I had a burger at John Howie Steak in Bellevue.  I’ve been there several times since, but always for dinner and I usually get the (brilliant) 42-day-aged New York Strip.  Yesterday I was in the neighborhood and decided it was time to check back on the burger.

JHS actually offers three different burgers at lunch – the USDA Prime Beef Bacon Cheeseburger (pictured), the Kiss Your Hips Goodbye (3/4 lb of beef, onion rings, and bacon between two grilled cheese sandwiches), and a Peppercorn Crusted Wagyu Burger.  My tastes definitely run traditional when it comes to burgers so I once again went with the Bacon Cheeseburger.  The menu describes it as follows – 1/2 pound ground prime chuck, Beecher’s Cheddar, Kurobota bacon, house baked bun, drive-in sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickle (not on mine!), and sliced red onion.

To put it simply, my burger was outstanding.  Great beef cooked to exactly the medium-rare I’d asked for.  Melted Beecher’s, outstanding bacon, and really nice fresh veggies.  There was a little too much lettuce for my taste, but a lot less than my last burger here.  I’ve really only got one complaint about this burger, and that’s the bun.

This is a really juicy burger, and the fact that I enjoy mine medium-rare only accentuates that.  The bun tastes nice and was toasted, but it simply cannot come close to holding up under this patty once you bite in.  The bottom half melted away and I had to finish the last few bites with a fork.  That said, I finished every bite as I wasn’t letting any of this go to waste!

The fries were excellent, and I really enjoy the John Howie Amber.  Not that the burger isn’t enough by itself, but you should also try the tempura bacon appetizer – it’s amazing.

+ Excellent beef, top-notch everything that goes on the bun with it, great preparation

- The bun lets the burger down

Rating: ★★★★½ 

El Gaucho Bellevue

El Gaucho

Today work found me in Bellevue at lunchtime which gave me the chance to stop by El Gaucho for lunch.  Having had a number of excellent steaks at the downtown Seattle location I was excited to give the burger a try.  The menu described the burger as a sirloin burger with NY white cheddar, bacon, and a focaccia bun.

While waiting for my burger to arrive I was thinking “focaccia bun? really?”.  The result was better than I expected.  While I would’ve preferred a more traditional bun, it held up well and tasted good.  In addition to the aforementioned ingredients, the burger also had white onion, tomato, and iceberg lettuce.

The patty was ok, but I was expecting more than ok.  Neither the texture or taste stood out, and the “beefy” flavor I expect in a burger at a steakhouse was lacking.  Clearly there’s no cheese in the picture.  The bacon was quite good.  I’m not a big fan of raw white onion on a burger, and the tomato slices were thin.  The lettuce was much too thick, and I wound up having to break half of it off to eat the burger comfortably.  There wasn’t anything wrong with this burger – well, except for my AWOL NY white cheddar – but there wasn’t anything particularly outstanding either.

The fries weren’t bad.

+ The ingredients worked together as a whole.

– Missing cheese, patty that was ok but not what I expect from a high-end steakhouse

Originally I had mentally tagged this burger as a 3.5/5.  After a few hours of thinking about it and comparing to other burgers in the price range I’ve revised that.  If you’re going to charge $14 for a burger I’m going to expect that you bring more to the table than this.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

John Howie Steak

John Howie Steak  

John Howie Steak in Bellevue is the latest restaurant from one of Seattle’s premier chefs.  An earlier visit delivered one of the best steak dinners I’ve had in years.  That experience combined with a mouth-watering description on the menu made this a must-try burger:   

USDA Prime Beef Bacon Cheeseburger, ½ pound ground prime sirloin, Beecher’s cheddar, Kurobuta bacon, Brioche roll,drive-in sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickle and sliced red onion  

Prime sirloin?  Beecher’s cheddar?  Kurobuta bacon?  Sign me up!  When the burger was placed in front of me I was excited.  Everything looked top-notch, and every bit as good as I’d been hoping for.  

The patty was excellent.  It was clearly high-quality beef that had been cooked just the way I wanted it, and I’d put it in the top 10 patties you’ll find in the Seattle area.  Sadly, everything that went with the patty was unable to hold up in comparison.

I’m not a huge fan of brioche buns, and this was a good example of why.  The burger was juicy but not sloppy, as it should be – but even that level of juice quickly dissolved the bottom of the bun, making the last half of the burger a little challenging to eat.  The cheese was a real disappointment – I’m a huge fan of Beecher’s and use it on my burgers at home, so I was really looking forward to what it would bring to the table.  As you can see in the photo, the slice was extremely thin which resulted in the taste of the cheese being completely lost.  When I could taste the bacon it was very good, but there weren’t a lot of bites where I could taste the bacon.  The red onion was fine, but the wedge of lettuce was big enough that I wound up setting it aside halfway through.  The “drive-in sauce” tasted like a typical smoky mayo-based sauce, and was quite good.  

With all that said, I really liked the burger and will be going back – but it didn’t deliver on my admittedly high expectations.  Taking this burger to the heights it could reach wouldn’t be hard – a better bun, make the cheese three times thicker, another slice of bacon, and better lettuce would result in a simply astounding burger.  

The fries were solid.  Crispy with fluffy texture inside, and with what tasted like sea salt sprinkled on them.  Definitely above-average.  Even the ketchup was a notch above what you’ll get most places.  The house-brand amber beer was good, and if you’re a dessert person check out the exceptional pear and raspberry sorbet.

  + Really dig the beef, the burger was solid, and everything that wasn’t between the buns was top-notch  

  –  The bun and the toppings keep the burger from being everything that it could be  

The burger at John Howie Steak

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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

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