Posts Tagged ‘bacon cheeseburger’

Lunchbox Laboratory – Sample 2

Lunchbox Redux

We returned to the Lunchbox Laboratory this weekend to take a second look at one of the few burgers to earn a 5 star rating from one of the crew at Legit Beef. Never having been, I decided to cast an objective eye on the experience.

Wise men render sage words to first-time visitors of the Lunchbox Laboratory . The consensus among the burger illuminati is to choose one ingredient from each column of the menu: one meat, one cheese, one topping, one sauce. Nothing wrong with this philosophy, but no matter what you do, you’ll still have a burger you can’t fit your mouth around. Be conservative and exercise restraint but adding one or two extra toppings or cheeses is not, inherently, a bad thing. Experimentation is encouraged, it’s a god damned laboratory.

For my burger, I went with 1/2 lb beef patty (obvi), cheddar, maple bacon, candied balsamic onions, and their secret burger sauce. This was freakin’ delectable. Let’s go from top, down. The bun is a Kaiser, toasted to perfection and doing an admirable job of holding together despite the abundance of juices from the beef and onions. The secret burger sauce is solid, pretty standard thousand-islands-esque burger sauce but there’s nothing wrong with that.

The bacon is, in a word, perfection. The slice is not too thick and the bacon is cooked lightly, allowing you to actually taste the maple flavor. They get away with the light cooking because the cut is so lean that it may as well be a slice of ham on your sandwich. The candied balsamic onions were great, trending the burger toward the sweet side but the saltiness of the cheddar cheese helps to keep the burger balanced. There wasn’t a whole lot of input from the cheddar but I doubt if the strongest of cheeses would have overcome the other flavors of the burger to shine through.

The beef is a quality patty but here I find my only fault with the experience. The seasoning they use in their beef is noticeably heavy on the pepper.  The taste of the beef should never be masked by its seasoning, particularly such a quality and juicy blend as they serve. There’s plenty of flavor here, it’s just a shame that the beef was seasoned by a kid who works at Fat Burger before they put it on the grill.

This burger was superb. All of the ingredients are top notch, as evidenced by the $20+ tally for each burger. Well worth it. There’s a great experience to be had here, you just need to find casino games your own. You know what you like but you don’t know if it all works on a burger. That’s half the fun. So long as you keep it reasonable you’re going to have one of the best burgers of your life. I took a shot and it paid off to the tune of a 4.0/5.0. You can easily build a burger here ranging from 3.0 – 5.0 depending on how you top it. It’s not about building the perfect burger, but building a great, unique burger. This is the place to do that. You miss out if show up and order a plain cheeseburger.

Unbeef: I had sweet potato fries, unremarkable, but the tots are great. You get to choose from 9 different salts too, pretty rad. The shakes look awesome.

+ Excellent bun, perfect bacon, candied balsamic onions I could have eaten alone on a bun

- Peppered patty

Lunchbox Laboratory 1/2 lb bacon cheeseburger with balsamic onions.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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

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

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: ★★★☆☆ 

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.

Fatburger

No.

Fatburger is about as close to fast food as we get, but there are a few key points which make it rateable for us. These burgers are cooked to order with what they claim to be the ‘100% pure lean beef and only the freshest ingredients’, and frankly, they were the only place open when I was out marauding for a burger late on a Friday night. Does their reputation for being a cut above the other fast food titans hold up to legit scrutiny?

Let’s start with the beef. It tastes awful. It’s “seasoned” with salt and pepper, from what I could discern, but the ratio is off and it takes away from what I consider to be okay beef. Credit where it’s due: the beef was cooked to medium-well and had a good texture and sear on the outside. It just tasted bad, is all.

The bun was mediocre, of course not toasted, and you’ll be glad they wrapped it with wax paper by the time you get to the end, as grease saturates the bun and becomes a condiment for your fries. The bacon was a little thin and fatty, but tasted alright. The cheddar cheese tasted more like American and the melt could use a little work.

The lettuce was limp, bland, wet; it was everything that’s wrong with shredded lettuce. The rest of the veggies were bland and, over time, something about their combination became offensive. They throw some mayo and mustard on there as well. I didn’t care for that either but couldn’t tell if it was just tainted by the meat seasoning.

This is the kind of food that cuts through you like Drano, however I do acknowledge that Fatburger has a place in the world of burgers. This is one of those burgers that could have been vastly different if I’d been around at a different time of day with a different cook and fresher ingredients during a high-traffic time of day, etc. But the burger before me fell short in so many ways. It’s a step above the big fast food guys, but don’t expect anything more than that or you will be bitterly disappointed.

Unbeef: Open late! Fries taste like death.

+ Good looking beef.

– Beef was seasoned to death. Veggies combine to form the sour megazord. Needs a real burger sauce.

The King Burger at Fat Burger

Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

www.fatburger.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

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

Teddy's Bigger Burgers

Teddy's Monster Double

Inconveniently located in Woodinville, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers live up to their name, weighing in at 5, 7 and 9oz sizes, with the option to double up. Claiming to have “reinvented” the burger, the Teddy’s franchise originated in Hawaii and has since spread to the mainland, we put them through the rigorous test of our digestive systems.

The beef is cooked to order, medium with a nice char on the outside. The quality of the meat is good, well above average, but no Jak’s. The bun gets the job done and the sauce which adorns it is alright, however both are otherwise forgettable. Most impressive was the bacon, which was cooked to chewy but not crispy and never left its rightful throne atop the melted cheddar. The lettuce, tomatoes and pickle were all fresh and a-okay in my book, but Teddy lost me at the onions. A cold mess of raw, thinly sliced white onions sits in the middle of your burger, begging to be released from their prison to die a lonely death in your fry basket. If you’re in the area, stop by for a burger and you won’t be disappointed, but don’t expect a transcendent experience.

Unbeef: fries are very good, menu has great variety, friendly staff, seating area is large and clean (unlike 90% of burger-dedicated shops).

+ Good beef, good cooks, great bacon.

– Cold, raw, hateful onions. Bun, sauce, cheese, veggies are bogged down by mediocrity.

The monster double bacon cheese burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.teddysbiggerburgers.com/

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