DAY FIVE: YOU CREATED A MONSTER
It’s the penultimate day of Burger Week, and today I have the good fortune of a work day lunch escape. Due to this unexpected luck, I may be able to reach my goal of 20 burgers after all. THE BURGER GODS ARE SMILING DOWN UPON ME!
I spend the entire morning rearranging my spreadsheet. Now that it’s down to the wire, I want to make sure I’m tasting the best of the best burgers. I heard rave reviews about HOME, a bar, so I make that my first destination.
HOME, A BAR
I park in a 30 minute spot. At this point, Burger Week has become a clinical experience, meaning I devour my burger in less than 5 minutes, so finishing before a 30 minute meter expires is effortless. I may rival Kobayashi soon.
HOME’s burger is called the “Dirty Picnic”, an epic extravaganza of ingredients that can only be described as a burger you might create if your only grocery option was a gas station convenience store. It features a beef patty, cheese, beans, chips, coleslaw, bacon, hot dogs (wtf?) and a pub bun. A lil trashy, a lil flashy – just like me.
At first, I was intimidated by the ingredient list, but I always appreciate a creative burger. I decide I need to pull my hair back for this one. I take my first bite, and to my surprise, it’s extremely good. It isn’t too overwhelming, and the mustard adds an amazing flavor profile that's subtle but adds just the right touch. I’ve always loved putting chips on my sandwiches, so this was a no brainer. And as a big fan of baked beans, this burger speaks to me. It’s one of those ideas that is just so crazy, it actually works. Afterwards, I’m left with hands that reek of baked beans, but all I want is more “Dirty Picnic” burger. I give it a very high 9.5 rating.
Even after that explosion of ingredients at HOME, I’m still hungry for more, so I select Noraneko as my next spot. This time, I park in a 15 minute spot. It’s like a new set of Burger Week obstacles and tests to see how quickly I can get in and out of a restaurant without getting a parking violation.
I order a kombucha that is more expensive than the burger itself, but figure I need the probiotics after the monstrosity of burgers coercing through my system. Noraneko has a nacho burger – an interesting choice for a ramen restaurant, but I’ll let it slide. It features a beef patty, pico de gallo, cheese, guacamole, and habanero cumin crema.
With a vast mixture of wet ingredients, the bun isn't holding up well, so it's a soggy experience overall. But flavor-wise, it's good. It has a nice hint of spice, and it’s one of the first burgers that doesn’t taste too dry. I'm glad they opted for real cheese instead of going the nacho cheese route because I think that would have created an even soggier situation. I give it a rating of 8.
Just as I’m leaving to head back to work, I’m spotted by paparazzi. Sometimes I just want to eat a burger in peace without the tabloids on my back!
Lightning Will Bar & Grill
Tonight I'm attending a friend’s birthday party that (unfortunately for me) is not at a Burger Week location. To ensure I can still eat a burger, I hit up Lightning Will for a quick fix. Lightning Will wasn't originally on my list, but it came highly recommended by my trusted burger buddy and blogger, Nick. This is my first solo burger of Burger Week, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes eating alone is a small price to pay for burger glory.
I walk in, and a Bruce Springsteen playlist blasts overhead. This feels very American. Lightning Will Bar & Grill has a Bahn Mi burger; a popular commodity among this year’s Burger Week restaurants. This one features braised and fried pork belly strips, pickled jalapeño slaw, Sriracha mayo, and a ciabatta bun.
My burger comes out quickly. The server returns to ask me how the burger ranks among others. It took everything in my power to not recreate the beginning scene of My Best Friend's Wedding where Julia Roberts plays a big time food critic and tells the waiter, "I'm writing it up as inventive, and... confident." Burger Week is my one moment to pretend like I have my dream job of being a food critic, and I tend to be a bit excessive.
To quote my girl Julia Roberts, the burger is… INVENTIVE, AND CONFIDENT. The Sriracha mayo is great, and adds a good balance of flavor, so the burger isn't too dry. The pork belly is an intense but appreciated addition. Overall, I rate it an 8.5.
As I wind down another day of burgers, I get a direct message from the Portland Mercury:
It turns out I may actually have a burger problem if the people who started Burger Week threaten a burger restraining order against me. Don’t worry everyone, there’s only ONE more day of Burger Week left. After that I’ll return to only eating a burger every OTHER day. Everything in moderation, right?