Archive for December, 2010

The Pumphouse Bar & Grill

The Pumphouse Bar & Grill

The Pumphouse is a sports bar in downtown Bellevue.  With 8 HDTVs and a stack of sports packages via DirecTV there’s almost always something good to watch if you’re a sports fan.  Seattle’s Eastside isn’t exactly stacked with great sports bars – so is the Pumphouse a worthy hangout?  If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you’ll agree with me that it depends on the burger.

I ordered the Bacon Cheddar Burger – a 1/3lb patty “cooked medium and served on a sesame bun with our own special sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickle, and onions” minus the pickle.  Although the house was packed – there were people standing in line waiting for tables or a seat at the bar – there wasn’t much of a wait for our food.

When the burger landed in front of me I wasn’t sure what to think.  Shredded lettuce isn’t normally a sign of a great burger.  I took a bite and was pleasantly surprised.  After a few more bites I realized that I was enjoying my burger far more than I’d expected to.  Looking at the burger I realized that while I’m not ready to crown them the “best burger in Bellevue” as the menu proclaims, they do take their craft seriously.

The bun was toasted.  The cheese was melted.  The patty wasn’t overcooked like you’ll find in most bars.  The bacon had a nice crunch to it.  While the ingredients might not be stellar, the burger in front of me was made with care.  As a result, they got everything they could out of the ingredients they use.

The fries were good, and so were the chili-cheese fries and onion rings we wolfed down on arrival.  It’s also the only place in Seattle I’ve found Ninkasi IPA from Eugene on tap, and that’s a beer that goes perfectly with a burger and a game on TV.

I may not think of the Pumphouse when I want a burger – but when I want to go to a bar and watch a game with some friends I’m going to the Pumphouse and having a burger while I’m there.

+ Attention to details delivers a very satisfying burger.

– Shredded lettuce, otherwise average ingredients.

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: ★★★★☆ 

BunsOnWheels

BunsOnWheels 

Thanks to some unusually cooperative schedules we were able to schedule a Legit Beef team lunch earlier this week.  A few emails went back and forth arranging the details when Drew suggested BunsOnWheels.

One of the many food trucks starting to dot the Seattle landscape, BunsOnWheels calls themself a “mobile gourmet kitchen serving gourmet burgers made from premium, all-natural and organic ingredients.”.  Further reading uncovers that they use organic, grass-fed beef – so we piled into KP’s truck and went for a drive.  Here’s each of our three takes on what we found:

Drew:

The Classy burger pulled me in, seduced by her pretense. She was beautiful with 1/3rd lb fresh, all natural grass fed beef, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, buns sauce. I added a second patty and bacon for effect. Beef looked great. Veggies and bacon were quality. In a word, this burger screams fresh. But in a classy kind of way.

If I’m going to find a rip to this burger, and it’s a stretch at best, it’s going to have to be the bun. Definitely a nice bun. Fresh and tasty. But as brioche goes, a little light and under matched when paired with a perennial burger and fixings. This is a burger that does absolutely nothing wrong. If I’m being feed from the side of a truck, this is the kind of class I want in my mouth.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

KP:

Buns on Wheels serves up a high quality burger that far exceeds expectations for any establishment, let alone one powered by Diesel. Perhaps ironically, my only complaint is with their bun which I found to be dry, truly a shame because it was the perfect size relative to the burger. Beef was top notch, coming close to the taste you can expect at a steakhouse, and the veggies were fresh and well-proportioned. Cheese, bacon and sauce were up to par but nothing to write home about.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

e:

My burger (pictured) was a Cheesy ordered medium-rare with bacon but without pickles.  Their menu describes the Cheesy as 1/3lb of beef with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, BUNS sauce, and truffle fries.

All burgers come in a brown paper box.  Upon opening the box I got both a great whiff of food that I wanted to eat, and food that looked good.  My first bite was great, and the burger was exactly the medium-rare I’d asked for.  The overall balance of the burger was pretty good – no one ingredient overwhelmed the others.  The flavors of the bacon and cheddar were too subtle for my taste, but given the quality of the beef and the care with which it was cooked I’m ok with that.  The bun was a too-soft brioche, but still above-average.  Taken as a whole I was very satisfied and I’ll definitely be going back.

The fries were pretty good, and without a doubt much better than average for frozen fries.  The truffle flavor was nice and not at all overwhelming.

+ great ingredients treated well resulting in the best food truck burger i’ve ever had

– bacon, cheese, and bun not quite as strong as the beef

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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