Burger Quest: The Tannery

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Burger #68 on the #KKburgerquest was at The Tannery in Portland, OR! Here’s my review:

Meat: 9/10
Grass-fed beef, amazing moist texture, yet not too drippy. Delicious flavor.

Bun: 7/10
I wasn’t totally crazy about the bun – it didn’t taste as fresh as I would have liked and fell apart easily.

Burger:bun ratio: 7/10
This was a little off – at first sight, it looks pretty even, but the meat was a solid patty and the bun fell apart pretty easily which made the ratio a little off. I wouldn’t change anything about the meat, I would replace the bun with a sturdier, breadier bun. (:

Toppings: 9/10
Delicious. Goat milk cheddar, sweet onion compound, bacon, lettuce and a little dill pickle to top it off. Loved the toppings!

Condiments: 8/10
Special sauce and ketchup that didn’t taste too sugary.

Logistics: 7/10
This is where this burger takes a hit! This was very much a vertical burger and while the stature made for a great presentation, it was pretty difficult to eat without making a giant mess.

Fries: 10/10
I loved the fries! Not too mushy, not too crispy, not too salty, not too bland, not too big, not too small. They were delicious!

Total: 57/70

For a compilation of burger quest reviews to-date, click here.

Burger Quest: Golden Valley Brewery

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This week, the burger quest headed west to Golden Valley Ranch Brewery. I feel safe saying this is one of the best burgers I have had to-date in Portland. Here’s my review!

Meat: 9/10
Melt in your mouth meat. Incredibly moist. Flavorful. YUM. Their beef comes from their own ranch which is amazing and perhaps why it is so tasty. The cattle is grain and grass fed – the only thing I would love is for the cattle to be 100% grass fed but otherwise, this was some of the best, tastiest, freshest, most flavorful burger patties I’ve had in a long time. 

Bun: 8/10
The bun was fine – a pretty standard run-of-the-mill hamburger bun.

Burger:bun ratio: 8/10
Because the burger was so large and juicy, it overpowered the bun every so slightly, but I’m certainly not complaining. The Kaiser roll bun was tasty, made locally from Portland French Bakery

Toppings: 9/10
On their ranch, GVB has an organic garden from which they source the majority of their vegetables. Amazing. Plus, the burger came with a very tasty dill pickle which makes me particularly happy. Also. Tillamook cheese, the world’s best cheese. Also. The dijonaise sauce was delightful. 

Condiments: 10/10
What can I say? They have the world’s best condiments, Portlandia ketchup & mustard. This is my favorite brand of ketchup and  mustard, so I was a happy camper. (:

Logistics: 8/10
Bc the patty was so large and juicy, it was a little bit of a logistical challenge, but a challenge I will take on any day of the week.

Fries: 8/10
The fries were thick cut steak fries. Not too salty, not too mushy. They were great, especially with that amazing Portlandia ketchup!

Total score: 60/70

Want more? Here are all the burgers from my quest and here are all the reviews!

Burger Quest: The Venetian

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Stop #66 on the KK burger quest! (:

Meat: 7/10
The meat was ok. The menu didn’t say anything about it being grass-fed and for me, grass-fed always has a much better flavor. It was on the dry side – in general, the meat just lacked general flavor.

Bun: 7/10
The bun was fine – a pretty standard run-of-the-mill hamburger bun.

Burger:bun ratio: 8/10
A decent ratio, neither burger nor bun overpowered the other.

Toppings: 7/10
Typical toppings – lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, etc. The menu said nothing about local / organic items and I do prefer these as they have much more flavor / nutrients.

Condiments: 6/10
Standard toppings but not organic / sugar-free, etc.

Logistics: 6/10
There was a GIANT piece of iceberg lettuce on the burger which made it a little challenging to eat.

Fries: 5/10
There were no fries!!! The burger can with a salad and chips. I need fries!

Total score: 46/70

Burger Quest: Grain & Gristle

grain_gristle

This week, the burger quest went to Grain & Gristle! Here’s my review:

Meat: 9/10
Meat – the perfect flavor and perfect juiciness.

Bun: 7/10
The brioche roll bun was fine. If I’m getting super knit-picky, it was ever so slightly on the dry side, but even saying that is a stretch.

Burger:bun ratio: 9/10
Great ratio.

Toppings: 7/10
The topics were solid except for the pickles. I love dill pickles and hate sweet pickles…this burger had sweet pickles. /:

Condiments: 9/10
I don’t know what their aioli comprises but what I do know is that it is heavenly. I would like a vat of this sauce.

Logistics: 9/10
Great – didn’t fall apart through the last bite.

Fries: 7/10
Far too seasoned for me. /: Super salty! They were also skinnier than what I prefer.

Total score: 57/70

For a compilation of burger quest reviews to-date, click here.

Burger Quest: Boise Fry Company

boise_fry_co

This week, the burger quest went to Boise Fry Company! Here’s my review:

Meat: 7/10
The meat was grass-fed which is a win, but was a little dry.

Bun: 7/10
The bun was ok, nothing super special.

Burger:bun ratio: 9/10
Great ratio.

Toppings: 7/10
Standard toppings, nothing monumental in either direction.

Condiments: 8/10
They had any sauce you could probably think of.

Logistics: 8/10
Great, did not fall apart.

Fries: 7/10
I liked the fact that the fries came unseasoned, so you could season to your flavor level. They also had an abundance of seasonings, something for every pallet. Thumbs up for the sweet potato option. They could have been crispier but they were a good size – not too skinny, not too far.

Total score: 53/70

For a compilation of burger quest reviews to-date, click here.

Burger Quest: Urban Crave

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Today, the highly official burger quest took on the Houston airport. This is my 55th burger! Here’s my review:

Meat: 7/10
All natural but not grass-fed so I have to take some points off. ):

Bun: 7/10
Brioche bun – wasn’t bad. If we’re getting really picky (which, I guess I am, seeing as I’m blogging about burgers…), I wish it wasn’t so toasted. I like a softer burger bun.

Burger:bun ratio: 9/10
What can I say? The ratio was on point. (:

Toppings: 6/10
Toppings included tomatoes, red onions and pickles. I’m not a huge fan of raw red onions and missed having lettuce. The toppings were fine but weren’t particularly flavorful.

Condiments: 6/10
They used ketchup with added ingredients like sugar which I’m not a fan of. It’s hard to like any other ketchup after you’ve had Portlandia ketchup.

Logistics: 9/10
This was an easy to handle burger. Not a huge mess, not too drippy, didn’t fall apart. A very logistically sound burger.

Fries: 6/10
The fries were a good size and not too salty. They did taste a little too much like onion rings for my taste.

Total score: 50/70

Burger Quest: Down House

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Y’all. The #KKburgerquest is back! Burger #54. Leave it to Texas to have one of the best burgers I’ve had to date. This burger was from Down House in Houston, Texas.

Melt in your mouth grass-fed beef, perfect burger:bun ratio, delicious flavorful toppings, perfectly seasoned fries and my absolute favorite part, the mustard seed/ball things.

Here’s my official review:

Meat: 9/10
Melt in your mouth grass-fed beef that was perfectly seasoned – just enough but not too much.

Bun: 9/10
Excellent challah bun. Not too big, not too small and very fresh.

Burger:bun ratio: 9/10
The burger and bun were about the same width which makes for a nearly perfect burger:bun ratio.

Toppings: 9/10
Cabot cheddar, heirloom tomatoes, butter lettuce, aioli. All tasted amazingly flavorful and fresh. Perfect proportions.

Condiments: 9/10
I LOVED the mustard!!!! It wasn’t the regular smooth mustard you find on most burgers, but instead, mustard seeds, those little multi-colored mustard balls that have the most amazing flavor. Yep. This in itself is a burger game-changer.

Logistics: 9/10
This was a pretty logistically sound burger. I was able to cut it in half without the entire thing falling apart and it held together through the last bite.

Fries: 9/10
Excellent fries. Not too skinny, not too fat. Seasoned perfectly. Just the right amount of crispiness.

Total score: 63/70

Burger Quest: Full Sail Brewing

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The latest stop on the burger quest was out in Hood River at Full Sail Brewing. Here’s my review!

Meat 5 / 10
I must admit, the meat wasn’t the greatest. It unfortunately did not have much flavor and was also a little on the dry side. 

Bun – 8 / 10
Probably the best part of the burger. Perfect size and tasted fresh. 

Burger : bun ration – 7 / 10
Pretty close to 1:1 ratio which is the idea ratio. This category checks out!

Toppings – 5 / 10
Similar to the meat, the toppings also lacked flavor. ):

Condiments – 5 / 10
Standard condiments, nothing particularly special or tasty. 

Logistics – 7 / 10
Overall, the burger wasn’t totally difficult. I had to fold the lettuce in half because there was a LOT of lettuce that came on the burger! It started to fall apart at the end, but overall, not terrible in the logistic department. 

Fries – 5/10
Good size and good level of crispy, but similar to the meat and toppings, the fries just really lacked flavor. 

There was potential with this burger but overall, it was just very, very bland!

Total score: 42 / 70

Burger Quest: The American Local

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Welcome to another edition of the great burger quest. Today, I will be deconstructing the burger from The American Local. Enjoy!

Meat 7 / 10
Double patty. The meat was fine – not overly flavored or too bland but…there was just so much of it! Voluminous might be an accurate word. I also think the meat could have been cooked a little more…I requested medium per usual, but as you can see in the pic it probably could have used a little more time cooking…

Bun – 8 / 10
Not too thin, not too thick, not too crunchy and perhaps most importantly, it tasted fresh. This was a pretty solid bun!

Burger : bun ration – 7 / 10
This burger just had so much meat; however, the burger & bun circumference was almost 1:1, which is great.

Toppings – 7 / 10
Pretty standard toppings, nothing really stood out in either direction.

Condiments – 7 / 10
I tasted a hint of horseradish which was actually quite pleasant, but otherwise, pretty standard toppings.

Logistics – 6 / 10
The logistics category is where this burger takes a hit. As you can see, this burger has a double patty which is great for meat lovers but terrible for consumption logistics. I would have far preferred either a single patty or a larger burger with a thinner patty. 

Fries – 7/10
Good fries, perfect amount of crispness, good size. They were a little on the salty side, but otherwise, a pretty solid fry. 

Also – I must note, this is a baby-sized burger. For someone like me with the appetite of a 12 year old, this was actually a perfect size. BUT. If you eat like a normal adult, it’s worth noting that this burger is much smaller than your average burger. 

Total score: 49 / 70

Burger Quest: Lardo PDX

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Today we took the Burger Quest to the east side to Lardo!

Meat 7 / 10
Double patty plus porkstrami. The flavor was good, but it was just too much meat for me. I’m a fan of the single patty and no other meat on the burger. The menu didn’t list if the burger is grass-fed beef or not and for me, this is important to know!

Bun – 7 / 10
I like that the bun tasted slightly toasted but wish it was a little smaller – too much bread for my taste!

Burger : bun ration – 6 / 10
While there was a ton of meat and a ton of bun on this burger, the bun still outweighed the patty in terms of ratio. Wish it was a little closer to 1:1!

Toppings – 7 / 10
Tasted great, good ratio of toppings to the rest of the burger. I would have loved for the menu to list whether the toppings were organic, local, etc. I like the added pickle on top. (:

Condiments – 6 / 10
Nothing that stood out in either direction.

Logistics – 6 / 10
This burger was a bit of a logistical challenge! I prefer more horizontal burgers to the vertical burgers, even though the vertical burgers look neat. (: Between the double patty and giant bun and shredded lettuce, this burger got a wee bit messy, but nothing any decent burger connoisseur couldn’t handle. (:

Fries – 6/10
Not too large, not too small, perfect size! A *tiny* bit on the too crispy side, but they were tasty. I could have done with a little less rosemary, but let’s keep in mind I’m a burger and fry purist so I like things as traditional as possible when it comes to my burgers and fries. (:

Total score: 45 / 70

Burger Quest: Mr. Bento

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This week, we took the Burger Quest to the ‘burbs – Mr. Bento!

Meat 5 / 10
Not too dry, juicy or drippy. The meat was decently flavored, maybe even a little on a plain side. Because ingredients aren’t listed on the menu and as having grass-fed and local meat is a really important factor for me, I unfortunately had to take off a point for this! Nice sized burger – not too thick and not too thin! If I had it my way, I’d have the burger a little bit more on the medium-well done, this one seemed a little on the well-done side.

Bun – 5 / 10
I liked the size of the bun – medium sized and perfectly toasted. The bun was a sweet roll and I’m not a fan of sweet rolls on burgers but that’s just a personal preference.

Burger : bun ration – 9 / 10
Great ratio. Many times the bun hangs waaaayyy over the meat and, well, that’s no bueno. The idea burger one one that when you take the first bite, you get a taste of meat AND bun.

Toppings – 5 / 10
I enjoyed the pickled (fermented?) onions but had to take some points off for the arugula – I like the taste of lettuce way more!

Condiments – 6/10
Nothing that stood out in either direction.

Logistics – 8/10
This burger stayed together well, down to the last bite. Nothing fell apart, no soggy bun, etc.

Fries – 6/10
Not too large, not too small, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The only thing I didn’t like was that they were a little too salty for my taste.

Total score: 44 / 70

Burger Quest

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As I wrote about eliminating gluten and dairy in a recent post, it only makes sense to write this post about eating burgers. To my credit, I did mention burgers as the exception so I’m sticking to that commitment. (:

How the Burger Quest came to be? Several years ago, the search for Austin’s best burger began. Initially, there were no metrics in place and the ratings were strictly anecdotal. However, as more burgers were consumed, it became more difficult to accurately compare the burgers.

We decided it was time to establish a burger rating system and now, 50+ burgers deep, finally have official burger Quest metrics.

The high score is 70 and the parameters are broken down into the following categories:

• Meat (juiciness, flavor, size, degree of doneness etc.) – 10
• Bun (flavor, size, texture, etc.) – 10
• Meat : bun ratio – 10
• Toppings (cheese, lettuce, etc.) – 10
• Condiments (mustard, ketchup, etc.) – 10
• Logistics (How well does the burger stay together?) – 10
• Fries (flavor, size, etc.) – 10

Stay tuned for Burger Quest updates coming soon.

The Great Burger Quest

It’s about time I make my burger quest official. And by official, I suppose I mean write a blog post about it. The following list is in no particular order, other than alphabetical.

Enjoy…slash, provecho!

8 oz. Burger Bar – Seattle, WA

Upon exiting the jetway at Sea-Tac, I pulled out my laptop and Googled “best grass-fed burger Seattle.” 8 oz. Burger Bar received excellent reviews & was in the direction I was headed toward, so off I went.

I ordered regular cheeseburger and it did not disappoint. The beef, bun & toppings all tasted so fresh. The ketchup rocked my world like no other condiment has ever done; I’ve never tasted a ketchup so flavorful and pure. The ketchup is from Portlandia Foods and comprises all organic and all recognizable ingredients.

The only downside of the burger is its behemoth stature. This burger is HUGE and the bun:burger ratio is a little off. AKA, the bun & toppings without a doubt played second fiddle to the gargantuan bun. The burger itself was delicious, just really difficult to keep together after the first bite.

8_oz_burger

All Star Burger – Bee Cave, Texas

This particular burger is called “The West.”  Let this be known: the garlic cilantro cream cheese spread on this burger is a small slice of heaven. It really transforms the burger from great to 350% fantastic. The ratio of bun:burger is on par. The meat tastes fresh & comes from artificial growth hormone and antibiotic free 100% vegetarian-fed cows. All Star also uses local farms and vendors which is oh so lovely.

The only critique I have regards ambiance. For being located in a strip mall, the overall ambiance is not bad; however, the restaurant is consistently chock-full of  kids/families/teens. I imagine this is right on par for the Hill Country Galleria demographic, but for a 20 something duo, it’s not a perfect fit.

Ambiance aside, this burger is without a doubt in the running for the best burger. (: Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 11.29.47 PM

Annie’s Cafe & Bar – Austin, TX

Each year I pass through upward of 25 airports. And when you spend that much time in airports (slash, anywhere), you begin noticing trends & formulate observations.

Because I’m pretty anal about nutrition, food is one of the things I spend the most time observing. One of the main reasons that I love the Austin airport is because there are a number locally sourced and organic options – Annie’s being one.

My only “complaint” (if you could call it that) is the size of the burger. The burger is massive and my heart broke a little when I had to throw 1/2 of it away. The size would have been fine if I was heading home afterward, but attempting to cart a drippy 1/2 eaten burger on an airplane seems like a recipe for disaster.

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Black Star Co-op

The delicious taste of the beef is what immediately stood out. Black Star uses locally sourced no hormone no antibiotic beef. The burger includes house-made beer mustard, which was a little too salty for my taste, but otherwise, this burger was fantastic. Great burger:bun:ingredient ratio, the fries were fantastic and the ambiance had a very laid-back-Portlandia-crunchy-granola-let’s-grow-heirloom-tomatoes-in-our-backyard type vibe.

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Common Roots Cafe – Minneapolis, MN

In terms of presentation, I think this grass-fed burger takes the cake. Honestly, words can’t do the burger justice, so I’ll let the picture do the talking. (:

Like many of the other restaurants mentioned, I really liked that CRC uses local produce/ingredients from local farms whenever possible for a number of reasons, including nutritional and economical.

common roots cafe

Counter Cafe – Austin, TX

I like that Counter Cafe uses many local & organic ingredients, such as the beef and the lettuce on this burger. What I didn’t like about this burger was that they used the white part of the lettuce. No matter how local or how organic, no one likes the white part of lettuce.

Overall, the burger was satisfactory. To be completely honest, my overall Counter Cafe experience was scarred (figuratively and slightly literally) when the waitress spilled piping hot coffee on me and pretended like nothing happened, even after my “OMG, Ow! Ow! Ow!” reaction. It was a bizarre interaction that I have to image was isolated but…probably won’t be back soon.

counter_cafe

County Line – Austin, TX

This burger tasted ok, but the meat isn’t grass-fed, and consuming grass-fed, not grain-fed meat is really important to me.

That aside, I’ve always really enjoyed the County Line ambiance – a nice mix of charming, old-timey and Austin weird.

county_line

Drink.Well. – Austin, TX

This burger was by far the skinniest and tallest of them all. While I guess you could say it looked kind of cool, it was a logistical nightmare. As soon as the burger was brought out, I immediately thought of this commercial and wondered if there was any way I could adapt the “taco neck” into a “burger neck” strategy. (…the answer turned out to be no).

drink_well

Eastside Cafe – Austin, TX

A farm-to-table cafe located in a renovated east Austin house. Everything about the ambiance – the homey feel, the lighting and the chatter volume was just perfect.

The burger: The beef was all natural and tasted moist but not drippy. The balance between condiments, toppings and burger was good as well.

If I could change one thing, I’d make the patty and bun thinner because the burger was about 27 feet tall and, well, tall burgers can be a logistical nightmare.

Eastside_cafe

Homemade – Austin, TX

Well…seeing as we made it, I don’t have any major critique as, well, we chose all of the ingredients. Everything on the burger is grass-fed and organic. The icing on the cake is the absolute hands-down best cheddar cheese in the entire world: Tillamook.

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Hopdoddy – Austin, TX

On the note of Tillamook cheese, let’s talk about Hopdoddy! Hopdoddy is one of the few restaurants down here in Austin to use Tillamook and for this alone, 100 bonus points shall be granted. (:

A little drippy for my taste, but otherwise, Hopdoddy’s burgers (comprising all natural and fresh ingredients) never disappoint:

hopdoddy

Jack Allen’s Kitchen – Austin, TX

I think this burger can mostly speak for itself. Wowsa.

One thing I really like about Jack Allen’s is the tactful yet obvious stress on fresh, locally sourced food (i.e. not in an annoying foodie hipster way.)

jack_allens

Justine’s Brasserie – Austin, TX

Honestly…it was a “meh” burger. The burger was extremely drippy…as in, to the point of soaking through the bun. The meat tasted much more like ground beef for a meatball than meat for a hamburger.

Justine's

Root Down – Denver, CO

I simply love airports that offer restaurants with high quality organic, natural and local food. These types of airports are few and far between but DIA, shoutout goes to you for having options. Root Down is a “field to fork” restaurant with a mission too neat to not directly quote:

“Root Down aims to connect the neighborhood to a dining experience in the same way ingredients are connected to food. There should be a seamless bond between the elements and experience, which stimulates the senses and draws people in.”

For whatever reason, I opted to try the veggie burger. While it tasted great for a veggie burger, I think I’ve learned that between a veggie and regular burger, the regular burger without question always wins. The toppings tasted flavorful and fresh. Sweet potato fries were served with the burger. Like the veggie vs. meat situation – they were good, but if given the option, I prefer regular fries over sweet potato fries any day of the week.

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Sandy’s Hamburgers – Austin, TX

You’re certainly not going to get a quality burger in terms of ingredients or taste, but what you will get is the experience of an old-timey, borderline janky hamburger stand.

sandys

Where have you found your favorite burger?

Summer Days

Un poquito mas of verano en Austin.

1 lb. of veggies topped with 1 lb. of potatoes, topped with 1 lb. of fried chicken, topped with 1 lb. of gravy. Dinner at ZTejas:

Jack Allen’s makes an insane burger:

Lunch at Frank:

Whip In:

Texas-sized frog.

At first glance, I thought this frog was a rock, so I figured I’d kick the “rock” out of the way of traffic/bikers… About 2 inches before my shoe made contact with the “rock”, I heard a loud “RIBBIT!!”. As if to say: “WTF are you doing?! I’m a frog! Don’t hurt me!!!” The frog jumped about 2 feet in the air, which caused me to jump about 27 feet in the air, screaming: “jesus christ! oh dear god. that is NOT a rock!!”.

Rudy’s:

Sno-beach:

Time with my piano:

Early AM walk/run. No other way to do it in this insane Texas heat:

A Day Of Mac & Cheese

Last Saturday was spent with Google & a group of mac & cheese loving Austinites, sampling the 3 top rated mac & cheese dishes found in Austin:

Hoover’s Cooking:

Hearty. Rich. Creamy. Would make an excellent side.

Cover 3:

Good for a meal. Breadcrumbs added a nice texture. Pancetta added a nice flavor but also made it taste a bit salty. This mac & cheese will make you thirsty! Overall, delicious.

Jack Allen’s:

We all loved this mac & cheese…which says a lot, as Jack Allen’s was our last stop and we were already full of mac & cheese. Great flavor. Great texture. Chicken was seasoned perfectly.

I had leftovers for about 4 days after our tour. All 3 restaurants provided incredibly different while incredibly delicious mac & cheese dishes. I’m getting hungry just thinking about the day. Thank you Google for a wonderful day of mac & cheese tasting!