Burgers… and burgers   Leave a comment

Recently, I was able to enjoy two burgers. One, was at Deschutes Brewery in the Pearl District. After attending the first of a series of photography classes that had come free with my new Nikon camera (and where I learned the tricks for composing shots, taking advantage of telephoto to bring scenic backgrounds closer in shots with people, and focus holding), we went looking for Rogue Brewery. Instead, we ran into Deschutes and just stopped there. I loved the look inside that retreats from the modernity of the Pearl with nod to the natural character of Oregon thanks to incredible wood carved into forest creatures and mountains and valleys of river, just like Oregon itself.

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Besides the great beer, they had a really great pub menu. I really liked the appetizer of wild mushroom bruschetta, which was seasonal Northwest Wild Mushrooms sautéed in a Mirror Pond Wort Sauce with roasted garlic topped with Juniper Grove Farms goat cheese and served with fresh artisan bread. That bread was really good. In fact, when the burger was taken home for leftovers, I just ate each half of the bun on its own, leaving a naked veggie burger. The veggie burger here is made in house with Black Beans, Vegetables, Spent Grain from the brewery and fresh spices with avocado-tomatillo salsa, with a brewery-baked wheat bun. The burger patty had great taste, and the buns was great, but really it would have been better topped with a bbq sauce to play up the spice instead of creamy avocado which flattened the complexity with mediocrity. The other entree, an arugula, grilled pear, hazelnut, Juniper Grove goat cheese and housemade duck prosciutto pizza using spent grain dough, was good but unfortunately couldn't quite compare up to great wood-burning oven pizzas at various places in Chicago (Pizza DOC, Spacca Napoli, Crust, etc). The duck confit was too salty, the pears sliced too thin so that they dried out, and the cheese too overwhelming and should have been added less heavy handedly instead of making the pizza soggy and overpowering the subtler taste of the dough. I'd definitely go again though- the menu still had lots of other options I was interested in trying.

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You may think I am such a picky eater because I always critique the things I eat and don't seem happy with them. But, I'm actually not picky! I like to eat a lot of food! I just have an opinion on how the food could have been at a higher level. Today I went with two co-workers to a new place that just opened by my work… Five Guys Burgers and Fries. We got there when the line was not quite at the door yet (and there were more then five guys back in the open kitchen- more like a dozen), making burger patties and fries fresh before our very eyes while peanuts in the shell were offered to help with the wait. They are raved about in other places in the US for having best burgers and best fries, and even written on some index cards on a bulletin board along the wall were handwritten comments from customers attesting great affection for the burger and fries (including illustrations- one of a burger saying "I see you!" which was a little freaky) and notes saying they were better than In and Out! What!

They are! Well, just the burger. I have to say, the burger patty itself is better tasting then In and Out's. The bun was soft and doughy and fresh too, and though I wasn't so sure about the lettuce and tomato being as fresh as what I had from Cali In and Out's, the rest of the "everything" toppings of fried onions, sauteed mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, mayo and pickles I think is a better combo than Animal Sauce. Maybe the fried onions could have been cooked a bit more (some of them were a little raw), but that burger was so juicy and hand formed that when part of the burger fell apart and I was just holding some meat, I had just that and was in heaven. Of course, I just also had a large portion of my calorie intake for the day with just the burger- I guess I should at least hold the mayo.

The fries are offered regular or cajun, and cajun is definitely the better choice. I didn't like that they were serving the fries in styrofoam cup- isn't there a more eco-friendly way? But, I like my fries crispy and well done, and these were not, and that's my personal preference.

But that burger was great! I would just eat that burger patty plain without the toppings and even
without the bun! What I have pictured is actually not the regular, which comes with TWO patties- I had the "little cheeseburger with everything". This outpost (the only one in Oregon) is still new and my team members and I naturally observed and critiqued their process and roles of the assembly team, but they are still brand new, they just need to figure out how to still serve things fresh but without such a long wait for the food (took us 20 minutes between ordering and getting our sack to go). I can't help it, I'm a natural critique of process and design.

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