Archive for March, 2010

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

Matts’ Rotisserie

Matts' Rotisserie

Matt’s is one of the few good choices in the Redmond area if you’re looking to get a drink and a bite after work.  I’ve been going there for years – there’s good beer on tap, the nachos and wings are tasty, and they’ve got free wifi – so I felt obligated to give the burger an official going-over.

The menu calls it the Killer Burger, and also makes the claim that it’s “the best burger in town”.  That’s setting a pretty high bar, and I’m going to expect to see a claim like that backed up.  It’s described as fresh ground chuck seasoned with cracked pepper, barbecue sauce, and Dijon.  While those are all things I enjoy, I’m definitely not a fan of seasonings beyond salt and pepper mixed into the patty.  There’s also Tillamook cheddar and the “usual suspects”.

My order was for a Killer Burger with bacon, medium-rare.  The plate that hit the table in front of me looked nice – it had a strong visual appeal that made you want to take a bite.  The patty was cooked medium-rare as I’d asked for, which lately hasn’t been an easy thing to come by.  The bacon was pretty good, but the cheese wasn’t melted.  The lettuce was shredded and forgettable, but the tomato and red onion were both solid.  The barbecue sauce had been applied with a heavy hand, and definitely hid the taste of what seemed like pretty good beef.  It also had the side effect of killing the bottom half of the bun – by the time I was half through the burger it was a soggy mess.

The fries are good, and Bridgeport IPA never disappoints.  If you’re in the mood for dessert, the cobbler is always a good choice – and the best cupcake joint in town is just 100 feet or so away.

+ good beef, bacon, and veggies (except the lettuce)

– burger patties shouldn’t be “seasoned” like this, un-melted cheese, and a weak bun

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Matt’s Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge

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

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☆ 

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