Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A University Staple and a Really Good Burger: The Glenwood

A friend recently described the Glenwood as a "Tier 2" restaurant.  It is not quite a "Tier 1" restaurant, or the type of restaurant that is an absolute must if you are visiting town for only a weekend.  Rather, it is something just underneath that: a restaurant that you should really give a chance if you are going to spend any sort of time in a town.  While this rating system is still not quite patent-ready, I am thinking that the third Tier would have restaurants that are perfectly salvageable but not anything special, and the fourth would be made up of the real dogs, but I digress...

I can't say I disagreed with my friend's, 2nd tier, assessment.  The Glenwood has not been a place I would likely put on a can't-miss list, but I have taken plenty of visiting out-of-town friends and family there.  Between its campus location, attention to detail, and Tomato Cheese soup (more on this later), The Glenwood has earned its spot as a University and Eugene staple.  The food is great, the service is usually very good, and, as long as you avoid it on a Saturday or Sunday before 3:00, you can usually be in and out in about 25 minutes.

Still, I have never really considered the Glenwood a burger joint.  To me, the Glenwood is a breakfast place; it is the restaurant that I think about on a lazy sunday, when I consumed one (or twelve) too-many on Saturday (for the record: their Eggs Benedict are maybe the best in town).  I knew they had burgers, but have never before much had the inclination to order one.

Recently, however, I have been hearing more and more about the Glenwood's burgers; I have received more than one email recommendation from readers, and even some from personal eugene-foodie confidants.  That, combined with the Glenwood being close enough to my daily goings-on, made the Glenwood ripe for the EBB treatment.

To begin this review, I want to get something out of the way:  The Glenwood does not serve french-fries.  I think this is perhaps the reason I don't see the Glenwood as a burger-joint.  I knew they didn't have french-fries, but never really put any thought into it before today.  Upon ordering a burger you are given the choice of salad, home-fried potatoes, fresh fruit, cottage cheese, or soup.  Most people in my situation would, I assume, make a giant mistake when faced with this decision, and order the potatoes.  I am not saying the potatoes are bad, in fact I think they are relatively good, I even tasted some today so I could confirm this, but they are not the best option.

It is a little known fact that the Glenwood has one of the greatest soups in the whole wide world: tomato cheese.  Forgive me for not being impartial and bringing in past opinions to my review, but seriously folks, this soup is great.  It is not a complicated soup; in fact, some might consider it crude.  Simply, it is a no-frills tomato soup, with shredded cheese.

Something about the cheese makes it not melt completely, and the result is a wonderful, yet completely un-pretentious, masterpiece.  Just order it, okay?  I will leave it at that, because this is not the Eugene Soup Blog, as that would be stupid.

The burgers at the Glenwood are pretty amazing on paper.  Their beef comes from Oregon Natural Meats, a "locavore"-movement, Oregon-company that feeds all its cattle "upcycled" brewers grain (from local breweries), and dry ages all beef for no less than 21 days.  The stock burger-package at the Glenwood includes a 1/3 lb. patty, whole wheat bun, green leaf lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo.  And, at $6.50 - $8.50, they are priced really competitively.

As I have been out of the reviewing game for a couple of months, I decided to keep it simple and order a standard bacon-cheeseburger, or the "Willamette," comes with Tillamook Cheddar and "thick bacon," and goes for $7.75.

The burger is a good-looking creation, with fresh veggies, and a clean presentation.  It's no greasy spoon burger, but it also isn't an overdone fancy restaurant burger.  The bacon is, as promised, quite thick, and appeared to be cooked perfectly.

First-bite was my first indication that the Glenwood may have something pretty special with this burger.  I don't know if it some un-mentioned seasoning, or the aging process employed by Oregon Natural, but the flavor of the beef was up there with any burger I have had locally.  The bacon was indeed cooked perfectly, not too crispy and not too soft, and the veggies were in perfect proportion to the meat.  I even really liked the pickles, which are typically a "meh..." item for me.

The only issue I have is with the whole-wheat bun.  On one hand, I really like the idea of whole wheat bread; it is so much better for you than white bread, and in many instances the flavor works better with the particular dish.  On the other, I am sort of a Philistine when it comes to my burgers and I like the processed clean flavor of white bread.  The bun tasted fine, so I will give it a pass, but it is likely the greatest source of any hesitation I have about this burger.

All things said and done, the Glenwood has a really great burger; likely, it is one of the best in town.  I would have to go back to some of the restaurants I have previously reviewed to say for sure, but I suspect that the beef was better than any of my previous entries.  I'd say it's a little bit of a sleeper, and the Glenwood has too many things going on to really be considered a burger joint, especially with no fries, but this burger does nothing in my mind except put the Glenwood clearly in front of other local restaurants who are known specifically for their burgers (I'm looking at you Cornucopia).

Perhaps the Glenwood was already on some of your own "Tier 1" lists, and, as of today, it has pushed its way on to mine.

The Glenwood Restaurant
1340 Alder St.
Eugene, OR 97401

(541) 687-0355


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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Baseball Burger: PK Park

"Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way. If one or the other does not happen, bankruptcy stares every team in the face."   
-- Chicago White Stockings owner Albert Spalding, 1881
What is it about baseball that keeps us going series after series, and season after season?  Is it the possibility of catching a foul ball, or seeing a perfectly executed double-play?  Is it the sun on your neck, with a beer and some peanuts in hand, as you sing take me out to the ball game or heckle the other team's right fielder?

Baseball holds a particular soft spot in this blogger's heart.  America's past time is not my favorite sport to watch, nor is it my favorite to play, but something about a baseball game on a sunny afternoon can completely reset me, and make me feel miles away from responsibility.  It's something I enjoyed as a kid, and hasn't become any less fun as I got older.

Lord knows it is not the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat game play that is the staying factor.  Don't get me wrong, watching a close game into the late innings, or a pitcher who is really clicking can be as exciting as anything else in sports, but most of the time baseball is... well, it's boring.  I know all of you baseball lovers are gonna take umbrage to that last statement, but hey, this is my blog, and so I'm standing by it.  It's not the most exciting game around.

Probably the thing that really makes me always down to to catch a game is the promise of delicious baseball park food.  Look, I'm a simple man, and if you sit me down with a beer, a burger, and the sun on my back, you could probably even get me to sit through a live rendition of The English Patient set to the music of Air Supply.  

It was in this spirit that I went to the newly completed PK Park for my first Duck Baseball game Friday afternoon.  The field was finished just in time for the season to start, and I had likely waited too long to get there and catch a game.  The Ducks were set to play the Nevada Wolf Pack, who came into the series with a 10-6 record, blah, blah, blah...  

Did I mention that PK Park has a beer garden, or that they serve a burger that had already been described to me as "really good"?  

My first impression of PK was that it was incredibly well put together.  If this team isn't immediately going to be tops in the Pac-10, their stadium sure is.  I mean, its small, but absolutely beautiful.  The field is all turf, including the base-paths and the warning track; as far as I could tell, the only dirt in the whole place was on the pitchers mound.  

The menu is limited, and expensive.  Beers are going to cost you six bucks whether you get a plastic bottle Bud, or a glass bottle Widmer "micro" that is kindly poured into a plastic glass whether you want it that way or not.  

The burger, cleverly titled the "Fielder's Choice Hamburger," is a double-double that comes with cheddar, and caramelized onions.  It cost eight bucks, which really is not atrocious, but for a family trying to catch a cheap local baseball game my seem a bit pricey.  

You order your burger under one tent, where you receive your bun and package of Tim's Cascade potato chips, and then you get your patties and onions fresh off the grill at an adjacent tent.  It was different, but it seemed like a pretty good system, and there was almost no wait.  I am guessing if the place was packed, it might be a ten minute ordeal.

Upon first glance, the burger looked... good.  The onions were a nice twist, and there was plenty of beef; if I had to guess, I would say two 1/4 lb. patties.  

I was a bit surprised that they didn't give you lettuce, onion, tomato with your bun, but you could garnish to your hearts desire at the designated condiment station.  

I went with the stock package on this guy, because between the caramelized onions and the juicy grill patties there seemed like there was going to be plenty of flavor, and I am a less-is-more kind of fellow.  

As far as the eating part of the process goes, I have to say, the Fielder's Choice is on par with some of the better burgers I have reviewed to date.  It is really, really good.  

The beef was grilled superbly, the patties were the perfect thickness, and the caramelized onions were one of the better touches to a burger I have had recently.  

It started well, it finished well, and I didn't feel bad at all about the eight bucks I shelled out on it.  

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Friday, March 19, 2010

The Paris Hilton Burger: Hop Valley Brewing Co.

One of the things that our culture invariably appreciates is a story outlining a successful journey from humble roots.  Everyone loves the stories of Henry Ford, Ray Croc, and Oprah Winfrey: people who started from nothing, and wound up conquering the world.  Conversely, we tend to have disdain for the Paris Hiltons of the world: folks who had the good life handed to them, and just don’t seem to have any appreciation it.

It is in between those two models that our dream, the ‘American Dream,’ lays.  It is a model that includes sundry middle variables, and two constants at its extremities: a paupers starting line, and a white picket finish line. 

The cliché is present everywhere in our society: at the Oscars, in hip hop music, in some of our most celebrated films. 

We have the same expectation for our restaurants.  Whether it’s a big chain of restaurants, or a single well-established restaurant, we want to see a big picture in the lobby showing the dinky little first iteration of the chain, or the old unpolished building that the restaurant used to reside in.  It’s a credibility thing.  

Hop Valley Brewing is not that type of place; I hadn't even heard of it the first time I went in.  It is like aliens dropped the place off in the middle of the night, all shiny, with an extensive menu, giant selection of microbrews and four big ol’ fermenters. 

I have to admit, it doesn’t seem right to me.  It has no history, no background story detailing its ugly little shack where its college student owners brewed their first amber ale kit.  No doubt the owners have their own little humble beginning story, but as far as I know, Phil Knight anonymously funded the restaurant.  It lacks a feeling of authenticity. 

Those of you who have been to HV, know exactly what I'm talking about.  When you walk in to the main lobby, the place feels distinctly like a chain.  There is no dusty decorations that are sitting around simply because they have been around for years and years.  All the servers are in uniform, and the tables and chairs all look the same as the other tables and chairs: no chance this place is a small town start-up.

That said, I heard the restaurant had an awesome happy-hour burger, so I decided to check it out.

The entire happy hour menu at HV, which is available every weekday from 3 - 6, is actually pretty awesome, at least on paper.  None of the food is more than four bucks, and all the HV brews are $3.25.  

The happy hour burger is a 1/3 lb. burger with fries, and will cost you $3.95.  The beef was the thing that really intrigued me about the burger; they claim it is a house beef, "seasoned with bacon, smoked, & grilled to order."  

Did I mention that the burger comes with fries, and doesn't even cost 4 bucks?  Did anyone hear the part about beef "seasoned with bacon"?  What could go wrong?

Upon ordering the burger, the server asked me how I wanted it cooked, and I asked for medium-rare.  At this point she mentioned to me that because the burger was smoked, it typically comes out pink no matter how you order it.  I thought little  of the comment at the moment; first, I know smoked beef stays pink, and second... I didn't order it well done, so how was the fact going to affect me?  Well, when the burger came out, it became clear why she said something; my burger was well-done, and, of course still pink.  

So, what happened? Does the server mention the whole smoked-stays-pink thing to everyone, because she is going to just order it well-done, or does she mention it because no matter how she orders it the kitchen is going to cook it well-done?  

Either way, someone screwed up, but hey, did I mention the burger doesn't even cost 4 bucks?

even well done, the beef was tasty, the taste of bacon was subtle, but definitely there, and the smoking process makes the burger unique enough that it isn't just any other pub burger.  

The burger comes out with a steamy plate of handcut looking fries, that are according to the server not made in house, but still very tasty: the type of fries that you dip in ranch.  The bun is totally edible, but nothing special.  

The bottom line is that for the cost this burger is amazing.  At eight bucks, I might be disappointed, but for $3.95 who could be upset?  I give Hop Valley my recommendation, even though there is no backstory.  It is clear that they have worked very hard to make a vision come true, and can you really fault them for making it happen with enough money to do it all polished and shiny?  Hop Valley still has an uphill battle to go to make its restaurant feel like a well oiled machine, but in the meantime they have cheap eats, decent beer and a pretty building.   

Hop Valley Brewing
980 Kruse Lane
Springfield, OR 97477

(541) 744-3330


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Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Bad Burger: Billy Mac's Grill.

Well, it finally happened; I finally had a burger worth absolutely trashing in my humble little blog.

You see, the problem with blogging about burgers is that burgers are generally good. While no dish fit for the gods, it is really, really difficult to serve an awful burger.  Even the restaurants that are dirty and have trouble frying a decent chicken strip, typically are able to serve up a perfectly palatable burger.  Really, the sandwich lends itself to cheap ingredients and hasty cooking methods.

It makes it tough, burger after burger, to continue to come up with something interesting to say.  I find myself at times scrutinizing every burger to a completely unfair degree, and often writing less than stellar reviews of perfectly good hamburgers, that lack nothing besides a bit of  wow-factor.  The problem is exacerbated by the fact that I target places that allegedly have a decent burger for my reviews.

When all the burgers are so good, what is a burger blogger to do?

But alas, nothing will come of nothing, and it was only a matter of time before I stumbled across a truly terrible burger.  To be perfectly honest, once I realized what was happening I was so delighted, that I wasn't even upset about the hockey puck on cardboard sandwich in front of me.

That said, I have just the slightest bit of trepidation about bluntly trashing a local person's business venture.  I would like to say that Billy Mac's is clearly a successful restaurant in a great location; the service was awesome,  and the place was immaculately clean.  The other items that were ordered by my dining partners were, while not mind-blowing, perfectly edible, and even tasty.

Now, without further ado, the hamburger.

Billy Mac's is on on 19th in West Eugene, and you may never see it if you weren't looking for it.  It's cute enough place, and, like I said before, immaculately clean.  The decor is a loose mixture of outdoor and fishing memorabilia.  The menu consists of mostly American with a smattering of international dishes.

The burger is a 1/3 pounder, and comes with regular fixin's, a choice of sesame seed or whole wheat bun, and Mac's seasoned fries .  If you want cheese it's $.50, and bacon is a $1.50.  For the record, that makes it $9.50 for a bacon cheeseburger with fries; that's a lot of money, especially considering what was about to come out.

The very first thing I noticed was that the fry sauce came out in a disposable plastic ramekin.  At almost ten bucks this seems inexcusable.  Come on folks, you have a business in eugene... get some reusable dishes.

Next I took a look at the burger itself.  It looked off... a bit stiff perhaps... oh wait... what the hell?  I could tell before even touching it, that when I picked it up it would be completely rigid.  I am not sure how they did it, but the bun was stiff like a crouton.  The bacon was cooked to a crisp, and the beef was no better.  The truly amazing thing was that the server had asked me how I wanted the burger cooked; apparently medium-rare means cook the hell out of it at Billy Mac's.

At this point, I got a big smile on my face, as I looked at my friends who were eagerly awaiting the verdict.  I delightedly expressed my opinion: "It is awful!"  Having had the conversation about my blogging difficulties previously they did not need to inquire further about my ironic pleasure.

The french fries, listed on the menu as "Mac's Seasoned Fires," were the one high point of the meal.  They were perfectly seasoned and crispy.  I was so impressed that I asked the server just how they prepared their namesake "Mac's" fries, only to find out that they come out of a box: pretty tacky.

As I close up this entry, I would like to throw out a challenge to Billy Mac's owner/management, if you are reading.  As much as I enjoyed the opportunity to write my first really bad burger review, I would enjoy nothing more than to let you redeem yourselves.  If you think you can get your burger in shape, give me a holler, and I will promptly return to give you a second chance.


The Eugene Burger Blog

Billy Mac's Grill
605 W. 19th St.
Eugene, OR


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Something Special: Marché

I really didn't want to like it.

I first heard about Marché's $11 burger about two months ago, and it came highly recommended: "no doubt, the best burger in Eugene."

Oh brother... here we go again.  It's not just a great burger... it's the best burger.  Those of you who have read any of my past posts, may know that this is a slightly touchy subject for me.  If a burger is going to get thrown around in discussions as the "best burger," it better be a real face-melter.  It needs to be a burger that is not only made with the highest standards and best ingredients, but that is also unique: something really special.

Now, I need to clarify something here: I'm not talking about a restaurant's claim that its own burger is the "worlds greatest," or the "best in Oregon"; who cares what Chuck, the kitchen manager thinks? I'm talking about a collection of popular public opinions that makes it tough to ignore the possibility that a burger is something very special.

I picked on Cornucopia, probably unfairly, a couple of months ago for this very reason.  I went in expecting a life changing experience based on a few rave-reviews not to mention the coveted "Best of Eugene" recognition, and got... well, I got a really, really great burger, but that was it.  It was lacking a  certain je ne sais quoi that is required to heft a trophy like that.

So, The more I started thinking about the burger at Marché, the more I was sure I was going to be disappointed.  First, I had heard nothing but great things about it.  Not good things, rather great things.  Unless you're the Jonas Brothers, how do you live up to that kind of hype? Second, the burger is eleven freakin' bucks!  Who the heck do these people think they are? Not only was I sure I was going to be disappointed, I wanted to not like it; I came in looking for a fight you might say.

I gotta tell you people before I go any further, Marché's burger lives up to the hype.

For those of you who haven't been to Marché, think about checking it out one of these nights when you have a couple of extra bones in the bank, because unless you get the burger, you are gonna spend $20+ an entrée.  Not only that, if you go in a t-shirt, jeans, and some ripped up Vans like me, you may feel a bit under-dressed: lesson learned.

Marché is at the Fifth Street Market, and is open for both lunch and dinner.  They serve mostly French cuisine, and they are very committed to procuring everything they serve locally: something that I care about, and that you should care about as well.  Their beef comes from the Knee Deep Cattle Company that is not only local, but also feeds its cattle no cereal grains, and no hormones.

The burger comes with grilled onion, Shropshire blue cheese, whole grain mustard aioli, and pommes frites.  I didn't ever find out what the heck pommes frites were, but the burger also came with excellent hand cut french fies.

The fries deserve a brief extra second here, because they are excellent.  They're handcut, small, light, and perfectly fried.  They are the perfect compliment to the burger.

The burger itself is a sight to behold.  Sitting perfectly on its fresh home cooked bun (did you know Marché has it own bakery called Provisions?).  The blue cheese is some of the best I have ever had, and the onion is sweet and still just the tiniest bit crunchy

The meat is cooked to order, and these guys know what they are doing.  Something tells me that folks don't have to send meat back at marché very often.

The actual flavor is something out of this world. Remember, I not only expected to be a little disappointed, but I was a little excited about the possibility of it.  So, when I took the first bite of juicy burger nirvana that is the Marché burger, I was left a little speechless.

It sounds cliché, but words truly wouldn't do this burger justice, so I will simply say that it is about as good a burger I have ever had, even with the $11 price tag.  I actually passed the burger around the table, and made my guests try it; it was that good.

I hate putting myself in the position that my blog may lead some poor soul to have a horribly disappointing burger night, but I am so confident that this burger will leave you satisfied, that I give it my full endorsement anyway.

This is truly one of the best burgers in Eugene, if not the best.  The price is a hard pill to swallow for a burger head like myself, but I think Marché backs it up.

One more thing, If you happen to go, and it is not on the menu, order it anyway: They will make it.  Enjoy.

296 East Fifth Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Burger Lovers: A Korean Burger Cuisine

Editors Note: Apologies for the late post this week.  Occasionally life catches up with all of us, and this week my name came up.  For the two or three of you who regularly read and check back for new posts, sorry.  I really appreciate all the emails, and suggestions; keep' em coming, and I'll keep the burger reviews going up.  Have an awesome Thanksgiving! 

I distinctly remember being very young, probably six or seven, and going to Chinese restaurants, usually with my dad, to order takeout.  Dad would order BBQ pork, shrimp, fried rice, General Tso's, and all sorts of other pseudo-Chinese cuisine; I ordered... a cheeseburger.  I tell you this, not to show you early signs that I was destined to become an amateur burger Gourmet, but, because I think many, many families go through similar rituals with their finicky children.  The point of the anecdote is to demonstrate a phenomenon that should seem rather peculiar, but oddly does not.

Those of you with discriminating little eaters of your own will know the Chinese food burger well.  They are typically relatively cheap, no frills, frozen pattied, ketchup, mustard, and american cheese specials.  I think when I was seven, I loved it.  Kids don't want a gourmet burger, they just want something safe, which even the most Americanized Chinese food often is not.  I am sure some kids will eat a hunk of BBQ pork and a dish of fried rice, but the fact that most Chinese restaurants have a burger on the menu indicates many will not.  You may say the Chinese burger is something of a staple.

That said, EBB is likely not going to review a Chinese food burger any time soon.  If there are any killer versions out there that deserve a nod I will consider suggestions, but no promises.  Now, Korean burgers on the other hand...

Burger Lovers is a relatively unheard of burger joint hidden out on West 7th.  As is clear by its name, Burger Lovers is first and foremost a burger joint, but Burger Lovers is also a Korean restaurant.  Wait... What?  Yep, Burger Lovers is a Korean burger joint, or rather a Korean slash burger joint (see what I did there?  I spelled out "slash" for emphasis).  Burger Lovers, however, is not serving a flimsy, back side of the menu burger; these are real-deal-holyfield burger-joint burgers.

When you walk in, you notice that the place is immaculately clean.  The next thing you notice is that the decor is random as all get out (pictures that make no sense by themselves or in relation to one another, odd old-timey relics, etc...).  Also, there is this weird little side room, where the walls are painted pastel pink, and the chairs and tables are more formal and sort of Victorian looking (maybe it was the Korean dining area).

The owners are the nicest looking old Korean couple you could imagine, and as far as I could tell neither one of them speaks a lick of English; you order by number at Burger Lovers.  It looked to me like the wife does most of the cooking, and the husband is the front of the house guy.

In what was maybe my favorite moment of the night, the husband spent a good five minutes pouring my Ninkasi IPA into a glass (apparently he hasn't quite mastered the art of beer pouring yet), several times scraping the head off with a spoon, and served it to me with a handful of napkins wrapped around it because he had made such a mess.  It was funny, but charming none-the-less (I still only ordered one).  It perhaps tasted better knowing how much love had gone into it.

Burger Lovers marked the first time I had been to a restaurant where the menu made me choose from a list of delicious sounding burgers, beef bulgogi, and  a dynamite sounding kim-chi.  It may seem like a weird dynamic, but for the sake of burger blogging, the place couldn't have been better.

The list of burgers is impressive to say the least, ranging from your regular old "Bacon Cheese Burger", to the "Hawaiian Kahuna Burger" (with ham and pineapple) and the "British Burger" (a ham, bacon, and egg special).  In all, there are twelve burgers, an additional ten sandwiches, and eighteen Korean dishes.  If you recognize some of the burgers names, there is a reason; turns out the owners of Burger Lovers are "friends" (I called to ask after being tipped off that there was a connection) of the prior-owner of the now defunct Jamie's Great Hamburgers: a restaurant that won EW's "Best Burger" distinction several years running prior to its closing.  Burger Lovers claims to have the "Best Burgers in Oregon";  one must wonder if they are simply taking the title with the recipe.

I ordered the Big Bopper Burger (another Jamie's burger); it was $7.50 with fries.  The menu said it was "loaded with cream cheese, bacon, avocado, and swiss," and it wasn't lying; there was a roughly 1/2 inch slab of cream cheese on the burger.  I didn't know what to think about the cream cheese when I first saw it, I mean, there was a ton of it.  I initially thought it was not going to be a good thing, but it actually worked pretty well.  The only problem I could see with having such a giant heap of cream cheese, was that it washed out the taste of, and maybe the need for, the avocado;  the two have relatively similar textures, and taste dynamics, so they fought for space.  The cream cheese won, by its sheer volume on the burger alone.

The burger itself was really great; the meat was fresh, well-seasoned, and cooked perfectly.  The overall taste combination of the veggies, bacon, and cream cheese/avocado worked exquisitely.  Further, the fries, while frozen box fries, fit the overall feel of the restaurant quite well.  It would have been a bit jolting, although pleasantly so, if the burger had come out with fresh hand-cut fries.  The Sysco fries were tasty and satisfactory under the circumstances.

Also, if you are dying to know about the Korean food, I have a little something for you.  I had the opportunity to try the beef bulgogi, which was excellent.  I have no desire, or the necessary background, to really tell you more than that.  It was tasty, and I would eat it again if the mood struck me.

Really, Burger Lovers is a very good, and pleasantly quirky burger joint.  I would say that it could hold its own against any other burger in Eugene, at least in its price-range.  They offer a great burger selection, and provide fast, fresh and tasty food.  Unfortunately, I think that Burger Lovers location may prevent it from catching on in Eugene.  I recommend going and getting a burger at Burger Lovers immediately if not sooner, because if you wait, you may miss the opportunity.

Burger Lovers
1466 W 7th Ave.
Eugene, OR 97402

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise: Terry's Diner

I never really know what to expect when I try a new burger.  Sometimes, I go in with lofty expectations based on some rave review I have heard or read, but most of the time, I go in with a fairly open mind.  The bottom line is that a burger is dependent on so many variables, and what may be a fantastic burger on Tuesday, might leave something to be desired on Saturday.  I try to keep these things in mind when I order a burger.

That said, I also tend to think that a burger might be judged most fairly on its worst day.  Typically the customer has no control over the variables that make or break a menu item, they don't schedule the staff, and have no control over food handling or storage.  So when I get a burger on, what I suspect, is its worst day I am disappointed as a customer, but as a reviewer I couldn't be happier.

It is with this in mind that I make no apologies for any of my past reviews, that were not totally positive.  A restaurant can be fairly expected to offer their best product 100% of the time, and when they don't, they expose themselves.  I would further submit that none of my reviews have treated any burger in Eugene overly negatively (apparently a few disagree).

Similarly, the same logic can be applied to any burger I review overwhelmingly positively; there is always a chance that I had the very best burger the place ever served, or that my opinion of the burger would not perfectly line up with you as a reader.

Remember this last point today when you read about the burger at Terry's Diner, which I am going to go on a limb and call the best burger that the EBB has reviewed to date.

There are actually two Terry's in Eugene, one on River Rd., and one on 18th and Chambers.  I stopped in at the Chambers store, and was pleased from the moment I walked in.  Terry's is set up as a 50s style diner (more or less), and has antiques hanging on the wall as well as a counter bar.  The atmosphere is pleasant, and there was plenty of places to sit comfortably (unlike a restaurant that I recently reviewed, which had the smallest tables ever).

The burger selections at Terry's are impressive if not just a bit overwhelming.  They have three kinds of patties to choose from (two of them vegetarian) and offer chicken breast or salmon filets as well on all their burgers.  The most intriguing patty choice was an in-house made spinach patty that sounded delicious, but, alas, I was there for the beef.

The beef patty is a half pound sirloin patty which is notable because sirloin is considered safely served to order.  I love a burger medium rare, so this was a rare and pleasant surprise.  I ordered the bacon cheeseburger that comes with "a couple pieces of thick cut bacon, choice of cheese, mayo, Terry's BBQ sauce, lettuce, onion, and tomato," all for $8.99.  I ordered it with Bleu Cheese, and a 22 oz. Ninkasi IPA, which is always a treat.

The food came out quick, and hot; the beer, as expected, was cold.  The fries were not made in-house, but they passed muster:  hot and crispy.  The burger itself was big, and a little daunting at first glance.  The sort of burger you look at and think, "how am I going to eat that?"

Never fear, after a quick slice up the middle the burger was much less intimidating.  Further, cutting the burger revealed that it had been cooked perfectly to order.  The sirloin was excellent; words probably won't do it justice, so I will leave it at just that.  The fixings were perfectly proportioned, and the burger was messy without being unmanageable.

The bleu cheese/bacon combo, while not new to me, was refreshing after the last few weeks burgers.  It's a really simple, but effective twist on the traditional bacon cheeseburger that isn't always an option, but probably should be... because I say so.

I'm gonna give the burger at Terry's two solid thumbs up.  This burger itself blew me away, and the service was awesome. They even tried their hardest to answer all my questions about the production methods of their beef (more on this to come later; stay tuned, because it might get interesting).  Go get one this week, and then come back and leave your opinion in the comments.

Terry's Diner #2
1810 Chambers St.
Eugene, OR

(541)343 0485