Posts Tagged ‘ballard’

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

King’s Hardware

kings hardware

King’s Hardware, bonus points for a legit name, is a pub bar in the purest sense. Brick walls, booze and taps abound, and a lot of thirsty patrons. I recommend sitting outside in the patio/brick area. More chill, less noise, and cool bricks.

King’s Hardware has some very nice burger options on their menu. In addition to your normal beef fare, there is The Cowboy, with a fried egg and bacon. The Five Alarm, with roasted poblano chilis, chipotle sauce, and pepper jack cheese. The Not Buffalo burger, with frank’s red hot, blue cheese, and an onion ring. All made with natural, organic, clean Oregon beef.

I went with the Cowboy burger, bacon and a fried egg with the usual toppings. You know, just like REAL cowboys used to eat back in the day. The burger came on a kaiser-esque roll which was nice, however, a little bit dry. At least the top half was. This burger came without sauce which it didn’t honestly need in terms of flavor. And the bottom bun was nicely moistened by the burger itself. But the problem was the top bun portion being thicker and residing away from the meat was a little dry for me. The vegetables were all very nice. Gorgeous and fresh as expected. Although there was one little issue in the garden. Wait for it, wait for it…. sweet pickles!! They tried to slip sweet pickles onto my burger. Get fucking real.

Having removed the vileness, lets continue.

The bacon was well above average. Very smoky, and very complimentary. The beef was legit. Very fresh, nice and juicy, with excellent flavor and not greasy in any sense of the word. The kicker was the patty was sadly overcooked, more of a medium well fire. A shame given the quality, and that I had requested medium. And speaking of chef dunce cap, the fried egg was more of a fried egg scramble and criminally over cooked. All fried eggs intent on crowning a burger should have some varying degree of runny yoke. These guidelines are all but factual and are not open for review or discussion. A rubber egg on a burger in no way adds anything positive.

In the end, I’m really harping on the flaws. Had this burger been saved by thirty seconds and pulled off the grill along with the poor egg, this burger would have joined another rank. This is a good burger. But it could have been great.

+ I give hooves up for very beautiful beef, nice fresh vegetables, a good solid bun, and $1 off during happy hour.

– I give hooves down for slightly overcooked beef, well overcooked egg, and oh dear god trojan horse sweet pickles.

The Cowboy burger at King’s Hardware

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

www.kingsballard.com

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

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