I love the smell of burgers in the morning
I made plans with Kelsey and Marc to meet up at 7:45AM for Delicious Donuts’ Grand Ave. Breakfast Burger. Grand is an understatement for this monstrosity: a third-pound beef burger, a hash brown patty, bacon, cheese, and a scrambled egg sandwiched between two glazed beauties. Yes, it’s a motherfucking donut burger.
My name is called and I pick it up from the counter. Holy shit this thing is heavy. It’s oozing with what looks like syrup, but it’s just the sugar glaze liquefying. I dive in with two hands and take that first bite. OMG it’s delicious. It’s the rare burger that is put together with enough balance to taste each of the 5 elements on almost every bite. The sweetness is balanced by 3 levels of salty goodness and I love it. Eating this feels very almost sinful in its excessive decadence.
The horror... the horror...
5 minutes afterward and I’m reeling from the experience. Oh it was great, but it was just too much for one person. This would be probably be a perfect treat as a slider on some mini donuts. I slowly sink into one of the worst food comas of my life and by noon I’m in such bad shape that I contemplate dropping out of Burger Week altogether. Last year it took me until Saturday to hit the wall, and part of that was due to a massive hangover. After following up the back to back to back burgers on day 1 with this breakfast from hell, I’m wondering if I pushed too hard too early.
By 2:30pm my stomach has finally settled enough to feel the faintest tinge of hunger. I don’t know if I can do and more beef right now so I decide to hit BTU for the General Tso’s burger, which is chicken inside a big steamed bun. I arrive and seat myself at the bar with a nice view of Olympic water polo on the TV. Inexplicably they’re out of every healthy sounding vegetable side dish, or at least that’s what I think they said but I’m still not a coherent person at this point. I order a side of vegetable wontons, of which I have almost no recollection of eating. I think I’m meat drunk. I don’t know if I’d necessarily call The General Tso a burger, but a giant chicken bao seems like exactly what I need to shake myself out of this funk.
It comes out dripping with sauce, yet looks like a light snack in comparison to my gut wrenching breakfast. I go into full autopilot and house the thing in maybe 5 bites. The bao is a soft and lovely and most importantly, not a donut. The chicken is moist and there is other stuff on it that I don’t remember. When I finish I don’t feel like shit, so it’s a success. In trying to write this review, I honestly remember very little about this burger due to my state of mind but I gave it a high grade on the Snap story so it must have been good.
Disneyland? Fuck, man, this is better than Disneyland!
Kelsey had finagled her way into getting the Portland Mercury's Patty Wagon to meet up with her at Noraneko. I was close by so I ran to meet them. The Patty Wagon is a Mini Cooper wrapped as a burger which is cool enough on it's own, but they also had a trunk full of swag including temporary tattoos, buttons and beer koozies. We took photos with the car and Kelsey danced in a burger suit making it the best day ever.
I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?
A couple hours and one chewy stomach relief tablet later and I’m ready for dinner. I coordinate to meet Burger Week vets Marc, Chelsea and Omari at Slow Burger, also known as Slow Bar’s bastard child. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy their burgers and had high grades for 2015’s Burger’s Pimento Cheese Burger, but it’s just not up to par with the magnificence of Slow Bar. Nonetheless I have high expectations and am intrigued by this year’s Hawaii 503 though, which has a pineapple slaw, jalapenos and teriyaki. If you’ve ever gotten into a drunken conversation with about pizza, you already know pineapple and jalapeno is my favorite combination.
There’s a steady but quick line when Marc and I arrive, he grabs a burger for Chelsea who is en route. As we’re waiting, an old man strikes up conversation with us. He’s recovering from cancer and leukemia which caused him to lose a massive amount of weight, so a burger and fries are on the menu for him tonight. They’re churning em out fast and all of our burgers arrive about the same time. I take a few bites and am definitely underwhelmed. There’s just not enough pineapples and I barely notice the jalapeno. Our new friend, who apparently used to be a chef, notes that it’s severely lacking in teriyaki and I concur. Marc likes it though so we’ll chalk this up to hurried and uneven distribution of toppings, which is forever the scourge of Burger Week. Omari arrives a little late and gets in line. After about 5 minutes they announce they’ve sold out for the day. My bad dude, I should’ve ordered for you. He ventures off into the neighborhood to track down one of the offerings from Migration or Club 21. Overall I’m underwhelmed by Slow Burger this year, but it’s hard to knock a place that consistently delivers quality on a daily basis.
What the hell do you know about burgers, Major?
I’m now almost fully recovered from the donut burger, but I don’t know if I can handle another one. Kelsey had mentioned she is headed to Next Level Burger for The Pomme Fromage, which is an entirely plant based burger. This almost seems sacrilegious, but I am so down with consuming vegetables right now.
It’s fairly busy at Next Level, and Kelsey has already ordered while waiting for her crew to arrive. When I order, the cashier looks at me funny and checks with the kitchen. They only have 3 burgers left! Marc and Chelsea are at the back of the line, so I order all 3 of them. Luckily for everyone else, they’ll have another batch ready to cook in about 15 minutes. One of the perils of Burger Week is sell outs, so far I’ve had great luck.
I’m sipping on a kombucha (because I need more probiotics in my life) when The Pomme Fromage arrives. It looks really nice, and the Swiss vegan cheese is melty and gooey. Wait, what? This tastes good, like really good. The patty is made of quinoa, chia seeds, garbanzo beans, onion, and carrot and I would happily eat it any day of the week. The sweet mustard aioli enhances everything and the arugula gives it a nice kick. My only complaint is that the bun is a little too whole grain-y, but that’s a pretty minor flaw.
One of the biggest critiques of Burger Week has always been the lack of vegan and vegetarian options. This year there are 3 locations, with Hoda’s and Bar Bar offering up a veggie patty. I am a happy consumer of all varieties of ground animal patties, but it would be nice to share the experience with some of my misguided herbivore friends. Major props to Next Level for not only doing this, but doing it so well. This is one of my highest rated burgers so far and I’m not bloated and dehydrated afterwards.
The war will still be here tomorrow
I’ve gone down the river into the heart of darkness and I made it out alive, barely. After 2 days I’m at 8 burgers, halfway to last years total of 16. I’m crushing Burger Week and there are 4 full days left.