Posts Tagged ‘not-so-cheap eats’

Triple Rock

Triple Rock Brewery

When my turning-21 good friend said she wanted to celebrate at Triple Rock in Berkeley, I felt silly because I’d never heard of it! An alehouse on Shattuck I didn’t know? Dang, I must be slowing down.

But hey, there it is, right on Shattuck near Hearst. Looks like the kind of place that would have an hourlong wait on a weekend night. Fortunately we were here on a Tuesday night, so we managed to squish six people into a four person booth (at a packed house). The joys of being in your early 20s, right? And I’ve gotta say that after a long day of work in which I darn near sprained my left pinky toe, a burger and a beer was pretty much top on my list of things I could possibly want. Walking was definitely an issue, but eating would be no problem.

This is first and foremost a brewery, so I had to start with a beer. A general rule of thumb for me is that IPAs (or anything that’s really hoppy) pair really well with burgers. Why is this you ask?

IPAs (or India Pale Ales) are very hoppy beers (i.e. they have lots of hops in them) – I’d describe the hoppy taste in the same ballpark as bitterness. As a result, the intensity can be too much for some. Not for me though – I find that an IPA before a meal primes my palate for rich, salty foods. And once I am enjoying said gustatory indulgence, the beer helps keep a nice balance on my taste buds.

I was in luck – Triple Rock’s #1 seller is their IPAX. It delivered on all levels – I love citrus-y, hoppy beers. And sure enough, the more I sipped it, the more I was ready for a burger. So let’s move on to the meat of the matter.

In my experience, breweries tend to be extremely hit or miss on the grub side of business – their food is either great, or decidedly meh. So I approached the menu with guarded excitement. A couple choices stood out for me, but I was pretty easily won over by a great combo sported by The Mesa burger: pepper jack cheese, smoked bacon, and chipotle mayo. I was a little surprised that fries cost extra as a substitution for cole slaw – brought my meal total up to $11. Figure a burger and a beer, with tax and tip, will run you about $20.

Food was brought out quite quickly, which was nice, as I was ravished, and expected a looooooooong wait with the packed house.

My first reaction was that I was a bit thrown off by the state of the cheese. It didn’t seem to be all there, though upon further study, the bun just appeared to be hogging the cheese from the burger. OK…that’s all well and good, but it made evident that there wasn’t much bacon – just two thin strips – not enough to compliment a burger sporting bold flavors in a chipotle mayo and spicy cheese.

Before digging in, I opted to add some ketchup and the habanero hot sauce they provided us. Mixed together, they turned into a fiery Hell Ketchup. The chile masochist in me may have put a bit too much on, but not enough to upset the balance of the meal. A fun little twist on routine.

Ah, but enough is enough, Conrad, just eat your damn food already!

I wolfed it down in five minutes flat. It was definitely a spicy burger, no thanks to me. The meat was conservatively seasoned – the effort was there, although it probably could’ve used a bit more salt. This salt lack should’ve been made up for by the bacon, but my suspicions about insufficient bacon levels were confirmed – just not enough bites with that salty bacon kick. But when all of the flavors (including the bacon) came together in one mouthful, the vision was certainly there. The smokiness of the bacon brought out the meatiness of the burger, mixed with the creamy chipotle may (which had undertones of that deep chipotle spice), as well as the upfront bite of the jalapeno in the pepper jack, and my own Hell Ketchup. But at the same time, that was also frustrating – there was a lack of consistency. The confluence of flavors should show up in most, if not every bite – not just a few. That bugged me.

In the end, there was nothing really bad about the burger, but there was nothing very memorable about it either – good, not great. Could be improved with an extra slice of bacon, if you ask me. Which was evidence against my hit-or-miss theory with brewery food – it wasn’t really either (is that a miss? I don’t know? I certainly left thinking I enjoyed my meal!)

As far as the sides go, I’m glad I made the decision to upgrade to fries, but was a bit irked by the fact I had to upgrade to them. They were fine – served warm, seasoned correctly, and went nicely with the aforementioned Hell ketchup. They did their job.

The service was really on point at Triple Rock. Despite being filled to capacity, our waitress came by all the time, and even the manager was taking care of us with a smile. Then the waitress even bought the birthday girl a 21st birthday beer! This was about the time another dinner-goer gifted his 3/4 full pint of beer to me (side note train of thought: Pinnacle Pale Ale – very light, a bit watery, OK but wouldn’t get it again, good beer for the faint of heart.) Can’t say no to that! Made for a nice post-dinner stroll with the birthday girl!

I’d definitely come back here with a group of people – the beer is great, the food is more than passable, and I felt really welcomed by the staff on my first trip here. Probably won’t rock your food world, but it won’t disappoint for a fun evening out.

To finish, some food for thought: we sat underneath their gigantic “Lunch” sign (stole this picture from the interwebs). When I go to a brewery [during the day], I always think, hey, it’s 5:00 PM somewhere. But you know, it’s always lunch somewhere, too – no reason to be ashamed of a lunchtime brew.

 

Triple Rock lunch sign

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: B-

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): B

Keep on nomming!

Fenton's

Fenton’s Creamery

Some places rely on their reputation.

I’ll be honest upfront. Fenton’s is a fun, family friendly establishment that will make even the most well-behaved children giddy. I went there as a kid a few times – the food was good, the ice cream even better, and I certainly didn’t care how much it cost! So if you want a fun family evening out (translated: your kids will be happy), Fenton’s will fit the bill perfectly. But after going here as an adult, with other adults, I’m not in any rush to go back.

The biggest issue is that the food isn’t very good. But the quality of dishes served here will never increase because the restaurant is packed every night – and people are eating full meals, not just ice cream. There’s no reason to change what doesn’t seem broken. But how did Fenton’s get this way?

1) From all reports I’ve heard (+ my 11 year old memories), the ice cream is very good.

Well, this fact is a relief, since it is Fenton’s Creamery. And it is definitely a positive selling point for the restaurant.* And the Yelp reviews agree that the ice cream is what brings them back, so I’m relieved I’m not the only foodie in this boat.

2) They’ve been serving safe American food since dinosaurs walked the Earth  (OK, I lied, only since the turn of the 20th century).

No offense intended to my dad, who grew up five minutes from Piedmont Avenue in the 50s and 60s, but with how evolved [American] cuisine was in the mid-1900s, it wouldn’t surprise me if generic diner food was “cool”. But although American cuisine has come leaps and bounds in recent years, the vast majority of the population still seems to have very tame, basic food desires, and would prefer to go to a place that serves up safe American sandwiches and salads. I guess I was that way until I was 15 or so.

3) Fenton’s gained an additional boost after showing up in the 2009 Pixar film Up!

Well, if kids and families are essential to the success of a business, this cameo would certainly help. And I think it has.

I actually watched Up! as part of an undergraduate paper examining the influence of Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli on Pixar films, but I don’t think I watched the end credits, where Fenton’s shows up! Anyway, I have to admit, it does look inviting.

Fenton's Pixar

OK, well I think I’ve surpassed my hipster quota of making fun of the average American palate for this week. Let’s get onto the meat of the matter, shall we?

We never even determined why I decided to revisit this American tradition. I actually ended up at Fenton’s for the first time since 2001 or so with some friends after an evening of drinking at Kona Club up the street. Wasn’t feeling classy enough for Adesso (nor did I need another drink), so Fenton’s seemed like a safe (there’s that word again) choice. The benefit of showing up at midnight is that the families are all gone, so there’s no wait for a table.

I should have just ordered ice cream, loved it in the moment, and regretted it the next morning, but the nerd in me was really curious about how the burger would be. Fortunately my bff (best foodie friend) Emily wanted to share a burger! Perfect. Surprisingly, nobody got ice cream at our table, so I neglected to take any pictures of desserts…sorry for the abundance of text, and lack of pictures!

We opted for the California burger – avocado and jack cheese – a surefire combination. Annoyingly, they won’t serve anything below medium, which sent off red flags about how “medium” they’d even serve burgers. I can see, and understand, the thought process suggesting that because the heart of their business is kids, perhaps it’d be a good idea to keep mid-rare meat off the table, but I still feel bad for the patty – especially when they’re advertising grass-fed beef (Durham Ranch). The burger was in the vicinity of $10.50 + $2.00 (!) for a side of fries with the burger – I didn’t really think to remember the exact price at the time, but I expected something good for that price.

One friend shared his jalapeno poppers with the table. I was not a big fan of the breading – too heavy.

When our main courses arrived, the burger looked exactly like what I’d remembered from a decade prior. My first thought was that the toasted sesame seed bun looked extremely inviting.

To be honest, I didn’t expect the burger to be cooked correctly, and sure enough, it was approaching well done. Why even bother offering pink at all if you won’t serve my burger how I ask for it? Overcooking the soul out of a burger should be a crime – the burger loses its identity (and especially when you’re advertising good-quality, grass fed beef!) And to be honest, I’m glad I only had half a serving – it was boring, bland, dry, overcooked, and extremely forgettable. But hey, what unsuspecting kid is gonna know the difference, right?

The bun was actually quite nice, and the smeared bits of fresh avocado on the toasty bun are what I most remember about the meal.

And then there were the fries. Oh the poor fries. They were lukewarm at best. The portioning of the fries was also laughable, too. Of the four dishes served, there were four extremely distinct portion sizes of fries – one girl had 50% more fries than we did! Off putting, but not nearly as much as the fact that they were bordering on cold. But Emily didn’t mind, and they did have some radiating residual heat, so I made no fuss.

I thought the service was quite good – our food was served quickly and my water glass was always kept filled. Our waitress never seemed like she was fading, despite being after midnight – props to her, and she was tipped accordingly.

Yeah, I should’ve just gotten ice cream, but curiosity got the best of me. The food here is extremely average, and I don’t see any signs that it will change, even if it does last another 114 years. It represents much of what I see wrong with the role food plays in the diet of American kids, and it annoys me that they can charge such high prices to people who just don’t know any better. But last I checked, that’s a part of capitalism, so I’ll take out my dentures now and go back to my rocking chair for nap time. Oh and get your darn basketball off my newly mowed lawn you spoiled brats!

As far as future plans go, I’ll come try the ice cream sometime: it has to be really good, right?

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: C

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): C+

If you’re a kid, you can probably change the ratings to A-/A. Seriously, it’s a great place for kids.

Keep on nomming!

*Post Script: I actually came back to Fenton’s so that I could try the ice cream. That’s ultimately what they are known for, right? I left empty handed: $4.45 for a “petite scoop” of ice cream (I saw the size of a petite cup). You’ve got to be kidding me. I just walked out and bought a tub of low fat cookies ‘n cream ice cream at Safeway for $2.50.

I could get sorbet at Scream for $3, Ice Cream at Ici for $3.75, CREAM for whatever they sell for now ($2.50?), Tara’s for $3.25. I’m sure the ice cream is good (my friend of this review’s burger-sharing fame had a sundae there last week – she thought it was great until she found hair in it) – I just have no desire to be gouged just because the name is famous. So I’ll save my sampling of their ice cream for when I’m yet again buzzed on chichis at Kona up the street. Spending money is much easier when I’m extra happy, and I’d love to have a good opinion of their desserts. Also, the sundaes appear to be huge, so maybe I’ll opt for sharing one of those with a few people…

 

Burger Joint

Burger Joint

I should’ve posted some of these reviews months ago, but I’ve been lazy. So in my attempt to blog more about food in 2013, I will throw in some older unposted entries from 2012. More burger love (or hate) for all.

Admittedly, I hadn’t done my research ahead of time. My friend and I were looking for a place to watch Game 3 of the 2012 World Series (which took place in Detroit). Headed to a party later in the evening, we didn’t particularly need to eat at a pub either. I’d heard of this place before, so when I saw open seats at a burger joint (literally, a Burger Joint), with the game just getting underway, I made the suggestion, and in we went.

Burger Joint is an order-at-the-counter establishment, so I was excited to see there was no line to grab a burger (unlike every other TV-sporting restaurant on King St).

The menu seemed pretty generic at first glance, though I appreciated the fact they serve some microbrews (I did not think to catch what was offered at the time – again, I was preparing my liver for some seriously Halloween partying later that evening).

I opted for a cheeseburger with pepper jack and fries. $9.45 before tax…OK, seems fair…especially because they’re quick on advertising Niman Ranch beef on family-owned, sustainable farms. This should be good, right?

Now it’s rare that I don’t Yelp a place before going to it, but this night called for a TV and a place to sit quickly. After we were seated I Yelped the place and my heart skipped a beat. But so as not to bias myself any further, I read no reviews…

As we were waiting for our food, I noticed that nobody was getting kicked out after they’d finished their meal to make way for other hungry baseball fans. I thought it was cool they didn’t rush people, but then I realized…hey, there’s nobody waiting for tables. Why does every other restaurant on King Street [with a TV] have a line out the door? At this point my expectations were not what they’d been when I had the idea to eat here.

Our food was served reasonably quickly. Sadly, I’ve eaten enough burgers that I knew approximately what this one was going to taste like without even taking a bite. I know an underseasoned thin diner patty when I see one. It was much smaller than I expected, and brought the word “flaccid” to mind. It was quite bland – I had to use a lot of hot sauce to make up for the lack of beef flavor. That’s a little trick I do with bland burgers (blandness is not a prereq, but use caution with a tasty-as-is burger): load them up with hot sauce, and you get this combination of spicy and fatty that’s overloads your taste buds. Goes GREAT with a hoppy beer.

In short, the meal was oddly identical to extremely average roadside diner food you’d find off an Interstate in anywhere, USA. A very clean diner, with friendly service, and Giants games on the TV.

But hey hold on, brain, I wasn’t done ranting about my dinner yet. This isn’t a one paragraph Yelp review – I was just about to give a little lecture on burger-making 101.

Let’s go B^4ck to Basics:

If you’re going to make a burger patty, add some salt. Salt is your friend. I promise. A little bit of salt won’t make your dish too…salty (what’s a good synonym for salty? NaCL-y?). Rather, a bit of salt will enhance the flavors of a dish – in this case, it will accentuate the meatiness and richness of your burger patty. And don’t forget salt’s bff pepper is a nice compliment, too…

So at this point you’ve probably figured out this isn’t a terribly positive review. Well, you’re right. But what exactly was holding this burger back from greatness?

The prognosis: FPS (Frozen Patty Syndrome) –

– Underseasoned patty

– Perfectly flat and unusually symmetrical patty

– Lack of char and loose edges – the lack of these welcomed imperfections set off the flat/symmetrical observations, and then the alarm bells go off.

– Lack of texture – there’s no interplay between fatty, melt-in-your-mouth divinity and lean meat heartiness. Instead, it’s reminiscent of an untextured flattened blob.

But even a prefrozen patty tastes better with some salt added on top. Seriously, it’s that basic.

And if these actually are fresh patties, which one would think they are, then I’m at a loss for words – I’ve had Niman Ranch beef hundreds of times, and it has NEVER been this tasteless and textureless. I don’t think Niman Ranch was having an off day. Frozen or not, something’s gotta change…

At this point I think you get the idea about the burger. So onto the fries.

You’ll note that there is a huge white space on the plate. I’ll take some responsibility in admitting that I had some fries before I remembered to take a picture; that said, you’re looking at a good 3/4 of the fries right there, so form your own opinion while I tell you mine: at least the fries had been salted. My suspicion is that they are prefrozen too, but I don’t feel quite as strongly about this fact (and you can usually get away with passable prefrozen fries, anyway).

I read some Yelp reviews after dinner, too. Yeah…whoops. But hey, we got edible food and a good seat to watch the entire Giants game on TV, and never felt pressured to leave. So there’s that.

And in the end, the Giants shut out the Tigers in game 3 (WS champs again!!!!). There was then an amazing Halloween party full of debauchery which isn’t really relevant to this blog, so the verdict: on this Saturday night, everything except dinner rocked.

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: C

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): C+

Keep on nomming!

Side note: The initials bj in lower case letters really never ever work. Everybody has a 12 year old inside of them; everyone, except the owners of Burger Joint, apparently.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

I’ll begin with the moral of the story: always look for those secret gems!

So everybody knows Ruth’s Chris Steak House. It’s a chain Steak House, not known for it’s presentation, but known for its tasty, though quite expensive, steak. My friend Patrick and I had actually been for steak just weeks before, having bought some coupon online to get $75 for just $50. The steak was delicious, duh, but we’re here to talk about the burger.

Well, let’s do a little tangent, first, and amuse bouche of sorts. A lot of people have asked, why is the name “Ruth‘s Chris”? From my understanding, there was a place called Chris Steak House, and a lady named Ruth bought it. She decided to keep the Chris name there, due to the previous popularity of the restaurant, and hence the somewhat ridiculous name. Ah but yes, the burger.

So Ruth’s Chris has an extensive bar, like many high-end restaurants. And like the steak, the drinks aren’t cheap. But on the back page of the extensive drinks list, there is a small bar food menu, not advertised, and quite easily overlooked. There’s a steak sandwich, onion rings, and, wouldn’t you know it, a burger!

I actually found out about this menu from my cousin, who frequents the establishment for this secret burger. When she told me that it costs just $10, I relayed this information quickly to my friend Patrick, and we now had a great use for the remaining balance on our gift card! Score!

We were seated in the bar in view of the SF Giants game (always a plus), and were even served the warm bread we’d normally be served ordering steak! Sure enough, for $10, there was a burger, with fries, on the bar menu. I had extremely high hopes, since I figure RC uses pretty good quality meat, right?

We also ordered sparkling lemonade. I was shocked to learn that this clearly house-made beverage comes with unlimited refills. This is almost too good to be true. But would the burger hold up?

Let me tell you, the burger was delightful. A gigantic patty, cooked with the same precision, to the same precise doneness as one would expect a $40+ steak. And to be honest, at Ruth’s Chris, I’d expect no less. And the burger just keeps going. It’s every bit of 8 oz. of melt-in-your-mouth burger. I made it through half, and already felt full, but then I came to my gustatory sense[s], and promptly wolfed down the rest of it. I’m going to guess it’s closer to 25/75 fat/lean than the standard 20/80, so expect to go all out if you’re eating this dinner. But bite after bite, the patty just keeps melting in your mouth, and you just remain in burger nirvana. And if/when you finally finish it (I won’t judge you if there’s some left!), you’re ready to sit back in your comfy booth, and bask in the post-burger glow.

The fries were plentiful, and nicely seasoned (yeah I had a few before this picture was taken). A nice bonus, considering the price.

This is one of those times where I almost want to keep this seemingly well-kept secret for myself, but ultimately I must do my sworn duty as a food blogger, and spill the beans…er…beef. So I hope you’ll take my advice and try this super deal out for yourself. With the sparkling lemonade, tax, and tip, we each spent about $18. But for $10 pretax, this burger is a steal.

And I shouldn’t neglect to mention the service. Since Ruth’s Chris is branded as a fine-dining restaurant, the service has to match up. Sometimes this rule isn’t as apparent in the bar area, but in this case, we were treated to top-notch service. Never had to ask for anything refilled, food was served promptly, and we weren’t rushed out when we opted to have another lemonade and watch a bit of the baseball game, having some time to kill before a movie across the street.

While I highly recommend you come here for steak, I even more highly recommend you head for the bar, and try the Ruth’s Chris burger. In my top 5 best burgers, as of mid-2012, for sure.

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: A

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): A

Update as of October 2012:

We returned to Ruth’s Chris for another burger, and learned that additions of cheese, bacon, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms are completely free. Highway robbery, I tell you.

Moraga Country Club Restaurant

There’s a bit of a story behind what I consider to be, hands down, the best burger in Contra Costa County.

So my first job was a busboy position at Moraga Country Club, a place I spent much of my childhood playing tennis, and hanging out by the pool. I worked there from September 2004-December 2005. Without a doubt, the best part of every shift was looking forward to a delicious cheeseburger at the end of every shift.

Last year, MCC tore down the clubhouse, and built a big, new, fancier one. MCC is by far the most casual, and least snooty of the Contra Costa Country Clubs, even with the recent revamping. But while everything else was updated, would the burger stay the same? Or would another part of my childhood be lost in oblivion? 

In short, it has changed, but it still retains much of what makes it so good.

The MCC burger and fries rings in at 11 bucks. But you’re getting what you pay for in the relaxed environment. Obviously I have a soft spot for my former place of employment, but who doesn’t want to relax with a beer and a burger with some brand new plasmas in a bright brand new lounge?

Anyway the burger itself is a 1/2 pound extremely juicy patty, with your choice of cheese (cheddar, swiss, bleu, or brie), alongside pickled red onions, butter lettuce, served on some sort of egg bun . My inner fatty has embraced this new choice of brie, and so that’s the choice I’ll be writing about.

I thought I’d be sad that the burger no longer comes with bacon, but the patty is so juicy and flavorful to begin with, that coupled with the richness of the brie, you realize that you’re not much missing the bacon. Sometime I’ll try adding bacon, to see if it is in fact overkill.

The pickled onions serve to cut down on the richness a bit, and add a unique flavor to each bite. I also really enjoy butter lettuce because I think it actually has a bit of a taste that stands up to meat.

The flavor combination of this burger gives it a refined quality. That said, if I was describing the experience in one word, I’d have to use: rich.

MCC brought back the shoestring fries, as opposed to the delicious ones I used to fondly sneak during busy dinner services. These ones are average, in my opinion, but they give you plenty of them, so you can always grab about seven at a time and not make a major dent in your fry stash.

There’s also a full bar with some classic choices on tap (Blue Moon on tap is a must in my book). As I mentioned before, it’s a relaxed environment, so even when you’re done, there’s no pressure to get up and go. And I vouch for the bartenders, who were employees even when I was working there, for doing a solid job. But there is a bit of dress code – that shirt better have a collar! 🙂

The MCC burger is probably my second most eaten burger (after Nations), and I’m relieved that it has survived the reopening.

As a side note, the MCC Restaurant is open to members only. Fortunately, members can bring guests, so if you’re in major need to try the best burger in the county, you know who to call on!

The Last Bite: 

Burger Rating: A

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): A

Keep on nomming!

Burger Meister

Often times after Scrabble club, we go out for some eats (many of us Bay Area Scrabblers are quite the foodies). And the logical place to go for dinner if you’re at a coffee shop on Channing & Shattuck is Burger Meister! So a whopping seven of us ambled down Shattuck to have a Wednesday night juicy meat orgy…

Burger Meister has long been touted as one of, if not the best burger places in the Bay Area. In my earlier years, it definitely ranked near the top, but I didn’t really see it as THE best. So what feels like a lifetime later, it was time to give it another try.

So if you’ll indulge my tangent a bit more, I used to frequent the North Beach (SF) location back in high school on Friday nights, but stopped going after we were once turned away over half an hour before closing time. The prices were expensive enough for 17 year olds, but being turned away was just silly. Just turn the damn grill back on.

Anyway, the Berkeley location appears to be the first Burger Meister franchise location as per the company website, and maybe that’s a good thing because the vibe is so much better here. The cashiers are friendly, and the food is served promptly. And remember kids, this review is solely based on the Berkeley location.

So yes, at Burger Meister, you order at the counter. The options are pretty run of the mill, and the prices add up fast. I personally don’t want to spent $13.00 on a order-at-the-counter burger, so I tend to stick with a straight up cheeseburger, which runs you about $11 after tax. That was always my issue in SF, and my net worth hasn’t changed since I was 17, so yeah, easy decision. But for all of the hype BM gets, shouldn’t the classic cheeseburger do the job?

If cow location is your thing (you know who you are, Portlandia fans), Burger Meister uses Niman Ranch beef, which probably adds to the priciness of the place. But though I probably don’t know Niman Ranch beef from Harris Ranch beef (hey, read the about me page again, incase you forgot), I’m happy to report that the meat shines through. There is a lot of juicy flavor packed into each thick patty, and there is consistently a really nice sear. They also don’t hold back on the cheese – a nice slice of thick cheddar melted all over the burger compliments it so nicely. The old fat on fat pairing, music to my arteries.

My only complaint with the burger was that it was clearly overcooked. I ordered it medium, and it came out mid well. A friend said his burger was a bit on the rare side after ordering mid-rare. But even though my burger was overcooked,  I left thinking this was really tasty, so I guess they did everything else right. There’s just something really tasty about a Burger Meister cheeseburger. But this is something to be wary of – they don’t always get the temperature right.

Between the 7 of us, the freshness of the french fries varied. Some of us got the end of one batch, the others got the beginning of a new one. The fries from the new batch were delicious (I stole a bunch from Noah) – mine were a bit cold, but still tasty.

The portions are a bit small for what I would expect, but some of my burger-nomming compadres had some leftover fries, so I sated myself with those.

I’ve never had a shake here, and I don’t know anyone who has (already overpaying, I think). But I’m pretty sure the Berkeley location has some decent beers on tap, though. I know it varies by location.  

I may review the North Beach location in the future, to see if they are still as pretentious as they were before – total experience killer. Good thing the Berkeley location is down-to-earth though because I’m near here a lot, and it’s definitely a solid option.

So is Burger Meister worth going to? In general the most hyped places are worth a try, because your results may vary. I’ve always liked getting my own opinion. And in this case, my opinion is that Burger Meister is not the best burger in the Bay.  That said, if you don’t come in with skewed expectations, you will not be disappointed. Do give it a try.

The Last Bite: 

Burger Rating: A-

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): B+

Keep on nomming!

Violetta

So maybe it’s not the most flattering picture ever, but these things happen when you have a nice burger in front of you that is just asking to be chomped on!

Noah and I decided for an additional burger stop, we would head to Director’s Park to go to Violetta (same owners as the food cart Etta). Violetta is another order at the counter restaurant. You then have your choice of sitting inside, or moving outside to the cement park (with a glass cover overhead incase of rain). Being July, we opted for eating outside. Fortunately, they bring the food right to you, despite being mixed in with people from other surrounding restaurants which share the use of the outside tables.

The outside setting in the summer is very pleasant. There is something nice about eating downtown in an area that isn’t too overcrowded, but certainly “happening” enough! I didn’t mind the wind that kept blowing our napkins because it was really a beautiful day out. Did I mention that I just love Portland?

Again splitting two burgers, we went for the Oregon Blue Burger (pictured above), as well as the classic Violetta Burger (pictured below). We also got an order of fries, with herbed aioli.

The Oregon Blue Burger is up first. It had a great burger sauce that really complemented the blue cheese, and is what stood out the most to me. I wish I had gotten a side of that sauce for the fries! Because there was a sauce present, there was less cheese, which made for a burger that was much lighter than the previous night at Killer Burger. I will get this burger again when I return.

The second burger was the basic burger. It was pretty good! I personally enjoy butter lettuce on burgers, so I had no arguments there. Although you can’t really see them in the picture, the highlight was the “10-hour tomatoes”. There was a good 20 hours of deliciousness in them, though. Regrettably, there were only about three of them on the burger (cherry tomato sized). Otherwise, though, the burger wasn’t that memorable, though it sure tasted fresh!

But the stars of today’s show, fair readers, were the fries. I know they’re expensive, but they are everything a french fry should be. Don’t skip out on them. You get a choice of one sauce. We went for the herbed aioli, which was good. Next time I will go for the harissa ketchup.

In the end, a 1/3 lb. burger with fries comes out to about $10. But if you go for the half pound option, or get some dessert, or a local specialty drink, you’re looking at around the $15 mark (which is a bit expensive). If you’re looking for a bargain burger, I’d go elsewhere, but this is a nice lunch spot, especially on a warm summer day. 

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: A-

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): B+

Keep on nomming!