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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Double-Burger-Feature: Cornucopia.

Eugene is a city of interesting dynamics.  You have a city that on one hand is known for its politically progressive leanings, and on the other hand is closely associated with mega-corporations Nike and Weyerhaeuser (who are not historically known for left-friendly policies).

It's a city that is known as a training destination for the worlds most promising distance runners, yet, as Lane County is also famous as a grass seed producer, many runners have a hard time training at all in the spring because of allergies.

So, it shouldn't have surprised me to see this week that Cornucopia, a business formerly only known to me for its vegetarian,vegan, and/or organic food items available at various local coffee shops and delis, was the winner of this years Best of Eugene Best Burger selection, but it did a little.

I have a deeply ingrained subconscious opinion, that although proven wrong on myriad occasions, forces me to be immediately skeptical of foods that are healthy, natural, or organic.  For some reason, when I see "all natural," or "organic" on an item's description, I immediately assume that there has been some essential flavor left out, and the food is going to suffer.

Of course, this feeling is total hogwash.  Often organic foods not only taste better, but you get the added benefit of having the satisfied self righteous smugness only found by doing the environmentally conscious thing, which is great.   

As it turns out, Cornucopia is a restaurant equally well known for having dynamite food as for its commitment to environmentally friendly practices and the healthy food.  Who would have known?

With that I move to the burger... err... burgers.  I had previously committed to some of my major supporters that at some early juncture I would try the "vurger" at Cornucopia, because it is, as far as I know, the only in-house hand-made vegetarian burger in town.  Thus, purely in  the name of science, this weeks review is, as the title suggests, a review of not one, but two different burgers (there was no way I was going to pass on a beef version of the "best burger" in Eugene).

Cornucopia uses free range beef grown locally at the Knee Deep Cattle Company without hormones or antibiotics in its hamburger patties.  The handmade "vurger" patties are made from fresh, locally grown tempeh that has been "seasoned to perfection."

I ordered a Big Boom Swiss and Shroom Burger (beef), and a Voluptuous Verna Vurger (veg).  The Verna is a tempeh patty with standard cheeseburger fare, while the name says it all with the Big Boom.  Both come out in a basket with a pickle and a generous portion of seasoned fries.

The fries were  crispy and tasty, but seemed like they just as easily could have come from Arby's as a sit-down; they were my least favorite part of the meal.  They have this orange seasoning coating on them that just seemed cheap.

As for the actual burgers, both were very good, but neither came very close to the high bar that had been set by my expectations of the "best burger."

I am not being totally fair to the "vurger" here because really it was quite tasty and to have had any expectations of it was probably a bit misguided on my part, but it just didn't knock me out.  Everything was super-fresh, and hot, but something about the tempeh... meh.  It was seasoned well, but the flavor just isn't... well, it just isn't a burger.  I genuinely thought coming in that the "vurger" was going to knock me out, but it came short of that.

If you are a vegetarian (or vegan, or neither), and have an opinion leave it in the comments as I am clearly not an optimal judge on the issue.

The beef burger was also really good, but not the cold-killer I would have expected a "best burger" to be.  I get the feeling that the beef patty with the standard fixings would have been really, really good (and probably warrants a re-do fairly soon), but the mushroom-swiss combo fell flat.

The actual beef was great, but the mushrooms were limp and not terribly flavorful;  the whole thing just seemed a little flat.

Cornucopia is clearly good eats, and they have a very good beer selection.  Unfortunately, through no fault of Cornucopia's, I came in with very high expectations, and felt a bit let down.  If you haven't been there, I recommend it, but go expecting a very good burger, and maybe not the "Best Burger."

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jackalope Lounge: A Really Big Frickin' Burger

Editors Note: you may notice a slightly different look, and some new stuff on EBB this week.  We are now on twitter, so feel free to come and... err... follow (seriously please do; at this point there are zero followers and it's a pitiful sight).  Also, urbanspoon has added The Eugene Burger Blog as a feature blog on its Eugene restaurant page.  Check them out; they have reviews of almost every restaurant in Eugene, and everywhere else for that matter.  

Clearly, not all burgers are created equally. Arguably there is as much variety in burgers as in practically any other genre of food on earth. At its simplest a burger is a hunk of ground beef in between two pieces of bread, and at it's most complex... well, the sky is the limit really; whether you want a burger with grilled cheese sandwiches in lieu of a bun or an all Kobe beef patty with foie gras and black truffles, you can find it somewhere.

My methodology in choosing burgers to be reviewed at this point has been to review what I consider the staple of the industry at each restaurant: the Bacon Cheeseburger.  The Bacon Cheeseburger is a beautiful thing when done correctly, and it's an excellent indicator of the way a burger joint conduct its business.  It's a simple thing, but complex enough that a chef can't get off the hook with a lazy effort.

Now, that said, I think this blog is getting a bit boring.  Further I don't even usually order a simple bacon cheeseburger myself.  I've been limiting myself, because I have never been a blogger before and I was trying to keep it simple.

Well, I'm done with that.  I'm not saying that I will never review another bacon cheeseburger, because I almost certainly will, but from here on out I'm going to try and keep it fresh from week to week.

This week I decided to get crazy at one of the restaurants that has garnered a few requests from EBB readers: The Jackalope Lounge.

By all accounts, the Jackalope had some of the biggest and meanest burgers in all of Eugene, so I really don't know how it took me so many burgers to get there.  On their website, they claim to have the best sliders in town, so I was all set to eat me some mini-burgers, but when I opened the menu, I saw this:

The ultimate of all burgers topped with ham, 
bacon, sauteed mushrooms, a fried egg,
swiss and cheddar cheese

All that meat, plus an egg and two kinds of cheese?  That's my burger. To make it better, Jackalope makes all their burgers with a half pound patty, making this by far the biggest burger I have reviewed even before all the extras. I immediately decided to unbutton my pants in anticipation of the food-baby that was sure to be coming.

The burger came out in no time at all, and it was enormous. Now, don't get me wrong, it was not as big as some of the novelty "biggest" burgers out there, but for a standard, no picture-on-the-wall burger, this thing was huge.

It came out with a beautiful fried egg on top, two perfectly cooked pieces of bacon, a full assortment of veggies, and big pile of hot french fries, the latter of which I promptly engulfed; this would prove to be error.

The very first thing I noticed upon biting in is that the bread was home cooked; how many places in town serve home cooked buns?  I love it.

The burger was delicious, with egg all over the place, and bacon every which way, but way too big...  Wait, what?  Did I just say that?  Too big?  What has gotten into me?

Here is the thing folks, I am of the opinion that bigger is not always better.  I am a big fellow, and I love big food, but there is a threshold where a food item goes from being tastefully big, to over the top overwhelming.

Here it wasn't the size of the meal so much, I could always pack up half (I didn't by the way, which is why I regretted the fries), rather it was the size of the patty.  The menu says 1/2 lb., but I would venture to say that it was bigger;  It was too big in relation to the rest of the burger, and it did not suit me.  Some folks are gonna love it... and some folks also enjoy Guinness, so go figure.

Aside from the sheer size of the patty, I had zero complaints about the food at Jackalope; It was really very good, but I'm trying to be discerning here!  The service was awesome, and the beer was cold (I had a Desolation IPA from the Amnesia Brewing Co. in N. Portland, which was great).

Jackalope is worth a trip, but think big on your way in, and consider leaving some of your fries.

The Jackalope Lounge
543 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR
(541)485 8519

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I ♥ Springfield: Fins Drive In.

People of Eugene, I have a confession: I heart Springfield.

Sure, Downtown Springfield sometimes looks like a page off of People of Walmart, but what it lacks in form it makes up for in function.  Home prices are cheaper than in Eugene, property taxes are WAY lower, we have a beautiful new hospital, there are less pot holes, and we have $1.50 movies: I seriously do love this town.

So, even though this blog is titled the "Eugene" Burger Blog, it's really a Lane County burger blog.  There are burgers to be eaten in Springfield, and someone needs to eat them: preferably me.

Fins Drive In is out on 40th and Main Street in Springfield, and I knew as soon as I drove up that I was going to love the place.  Between the awesome neon, the '59 Caddy sticking out the front of the building, and the old school drive in parking spots Fins has all the charm it needs.

The inside is small, and was surprisingly packed on a Thursday night;  there were a few spots left at the U-shaped bar, but every booth in the place was taken.  

While I was genuinely sad to see that Fins doesn't serve beer, they make up for it with a home-made root beer.  I don't really know what to say about it, other than that it tasted very little like a commercial root beer, and it was really good.  I also tried the chocolate milk shake, and have to say that it is mediocre at best: order the root beer.

The burgers are all named after classic cars: The Impala, The Mustang, The Eldorado, etc...  The patties are made from locally farmed beef, and are hand-made daily.  

I ordered the Bel Air: a 1/4 lb. patty with your choice of cheese (american, pepper jack, cheddar or swiss), bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and special sauce all for $5.50.

The burger was awesome. I got the american as usual.  The beef was delicious, and the patty was generous (not the skimpy crap some restaurants try to pass off as a 1/4 lb.). The veggies were fresh, and perfectly proportioned.  The bacon was a little crispier than I prefer, but still bacon.  Finally, the special sauce tasted to me like thousand island dressing, so... maybe not so special, but still plenty tasty.

The fries were an extra $1.25, and unfortunately the worst part of the meal. They were over-cooked, and not very fresh.  Fries are one of those things that, at some restaurants, are different depending on what time you go, on what day, and on who is in the kitchen, so I certainly wouldn't rule the fries out in the future, but it was the low-point of this meal. 

The onion rings on the other hand were delicious.  they are home-made, and were super fresh (maybe at the expense of MY fries). they are $2.25, and totally worth it if onion rings are your thing.

Bottom line: Fins is good eats.  It's cheap, the servers are friendly, and it has a great atmosphere.  

Fins Drive In 
4090 Main St.
Springfield, OR 97478

541 741 3467    

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Dickie Jo's: My First Diet Burger

So, when I started this burger blog, going on a diet was obviously not in my plans.  I consider myself a fairly in-shape fellow; I work out every day because of my gluttonous appetite, not merely in spite of it.  I know that I'm not the trimmest fellow, but I still run a sub 20 minute 5k, and I can drag myself to the top of Mt. Pisgah without feeling like I am going to puke.

What in the world would I want to diet for?

Well, it turns out that my future employer has some fairly strict height and weight standards (who would have known?).  It also turns out that I am exactly at their maximum allowable body fat percentage.  Amazingly enough, they didn't accept the "but I can climb Mt Pisgah" argument.

What does this mean for me?  It has occurred to me that being at, and not over, the maximum allowable body fat percentage technically means I don't have to do a damn thing.  I passed the test, dammit.  On the other hand... well... lets just say I should probably go on a diet.

What does this mean for you?  Good news: probably very little.  I am an innovative fellow, and have devised a diet that allows me to maintain my burger eating habits.  The downside is that I pretty much only get to eat broccoli the rest of the week, but I think it's a fairly reasonable tradeoff.

With that, on to the burger.

When I originally put out my feelers regarding starting a burger blog, the most requested establishment I recieved was Dickie Jo's.  Dickie Jo's is a relatively new place; it just went up this summer, but nearly every one I talked to had an opinion... whether they had been there or not.  Some folks loved it, some thought it was overpriced and the waits were obnoxious, and others were turned off merely by the chain aspect.  Technically Dickie Jo's is not a chain, but it is owned by the same folks who own Mucho Gusto and Fina Taqueria; whether or not that puts it into the chain category, I will leave for you to decide.

Dickie Jo's is on 13th and Pearl, and is really pretty convenient.  When I set out, I had it in my head that it was down-town, so I found the first spot on the side of the road, and parked; less than a block away felt pretty good.  Turns out, they have a big ol' parking lot.  Oh well.

The restaurant  looks really cool.  It has big a big attractive neon sign, that helps to invoke that 50s feel before you even walk in.  The inside is immaculate, with a retro styling that nevertheless feels completely modern.

The menu is hung above the counter that you order at.  They bring your food out to you.  For all the complaints about long waits I had heard, I was pleasantly surprised to be the second one in line; we waited less than ten minutes total for our food.

The burgers start with a $5.95 base price for an "all natural Painted Hills beef (USDA Choice)" patty with standard veggies, special sauce, and fries.  Extras are... well... extra: 50 cents each for cheese, bacon, grilled onions, etc...  and $2 to double the beef.  What are people whining about with these outrageous price complaints?  It's certainly not cheap, but it isn't even close to the priciest place in town.

The only price complaint I had was regarding DJ's beer selection.  They only carry 12 oz. bottled beers, and they are all $2.99.  There is nothing awful in that alone, until you consider that a PBR is the same price as a Mirror Pond.  Ridiculous, but whatever...

I was feeling kind of simple, so I ordered a bacon cheeseburger (single patty) with american, and an Inversion IPA.

My first reaction was that the burger looked fresh, hot, and... a little small.  Maybe I should have ordered the extra patty, but at nine bucks... OK, maybe Dickie Jo's is a tiny bit spendy.    

Upon first bite, the burger is good.  The beef is excellent, the bacon is thick and juicy, and the bun is... wait... the bun is kind of weird.  It is not bad, on the contrary it is really pretty good, but it has a familiar quality that I just couldn't quite put my finger on...

And then I realized, it tastes just like the bread at Big Town Hero: fresh, soft and sort of sweet.

Never in a million years would I think that a bun would be the defining characteristic of a burger, but here it clearly was.  Dickie Jo's bakes their bread in-house each morning, and it shows.  I am guessing that some people will love it, and others are going to hate it.  You have been warned.  That said, I really enjoyed it.

The fries were decent.  Nothing to write home about, but no complaints either.  They were hot, crispy, and light.

I didn't order a milkshake, but our server, was so confident that we would love it  she brought out one for me and my buddy to share on the house (she even put it in two glasses as opposed to just bringing out two bendy straws).  She recommended the peanut butter fudge, so we went with it, and were blown away.  Excellent, and recommended; get one.

Dickie Jo's is really really good.  I say go when it's not likely to be packed, and order that second patty.

Dickie Jo's Burgers
201 East 13th (corner of 13th and Pearl)
541 636 4488

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Wetlands Brew Pub and Sports Bar.

The Wetlands is one of those establishments that I know is there, but I rarely think about when considering where to eat any given evening.  I am seldomly out on West 11th, and when I am, it is not food I have come for.  That said, whenever I eat at The Wetlands, I think, "this is a good place."

The Wetlands is a no thrills Brew Pub.  It's not a fancy place, and there are not nearly as many TVs as some of the other "Sports Bars" in town, but it has a good atmosphere none-the-less.  There are pool tables, the mood is casual, and the servers are friendly.

The menu is great, relatively cheap, and they have 32 beers on tap, including four kinds of Ninkasi.  They also have a really great happy-hour menu every weekday from 4-7.  The Wetlands is my sort of pub.

I ordered the Wetlands Burger with cheddar and fries and a Ninkasi IPA (my favorite).  The burger is a 1/3 lb. patty on regular old pub bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, a pickle spear, your choice of cheese, and fries.

My first thought when the burger came out was, "wow, that is a great looking burger" (do you put thought is quotation marks?).  The burger, while on paper nearly identical to the Agate Alley Burger,  was way more appetizing; I can't put my finger on any one thing, but it was a discernible difference to the eyes.

The fries are fresh cut, and still have the skin on some of them, which I love; they come out with your choice of ranch or fry sauce.  I said neither, but they brought me ranch... when in Rome, right?

Bottom line, this burger is great.  It is not going to garner any medals, simply because there is nothing extaordinary about it, but it is really a very good burger.  The Patty is not too thick, like 1/3 pounders can get, the balance between meat and veggies is excellent, and the bun, while nothing special, gets the job done.

While EBB still has no official rating system (there may be one coming), I am still going to give this burger 2 thumbs up.

The Wetlands Brew Pub and Sports Bar
922 Garfield St.
Eugene, OR 97402
(541) 345 3606

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Agate Alley Bistro: The First Burger.

The plan for my first burger review had been to collect as many opinions on the subject as possible, and choose a burger that would most likely blow my mind.  I had high hopes, and great expectations for the first burger; it would forever hold a place in my memory and on my palate.

With that, sometimes even the best laid plans change.

Face it folks, the reason this blog exists today is because I have a weakness.  I willingly admit it: I am a sucker for a burger... and a beer.

So, when my good friend and drinking buddy made a not-so-subtle beer drinking hand signal to me at the end of the day (close enough to the end anyway) I quickly and quietly packed my bag.

After a brief deliberation we decided on Agate Alley Bistro.

Agate Alley Bistro, is tucked away on the south side of campus on 19th and, you guessed it, Agate Alley (between Agate and Emerald).

I ordered the Agate Alley Burger (the only burger on the menu) with a slice of Cheddar and fries, and a tall-boy of PBR.  The burger comes with fries and is listed at $7.5 (not 7.50, but "7.5") with an additional dollar each for Tillamook cheddar, sautéed mushrooms, and/or bacon; the PBR is $2.25.

If you want a bacon cheeseburger at Agate Alley it's gonna cost you $9.5 bucks.

(As an aside, every Tuesday is "Taco Tuesday" at Agate Alley.  For six bucks you get two tacos and a Pacifico.  I was tempted, but I have a job to do here.)

The food came out quickly enough, and looked great.  The crinkle cut fries were hot, light, and crispy: really fantastic.

The actual burger is not visually a piece of art, but the beef flavor is where it makes its money.  The menu says it is "spice rubbed" fresh ground beef, and it is really very good.  It comes out with two slices of tomato, onions, pickles, and a heap of lettuce on an onion bun with Aioli.  Unfortunately, the patty, as good as it was, was totally dominated by the heaps of veggies.

I eventually took out about half of the salad, improving the overall flavor of the burger.  Unfortunately by then, the bottom bun had totally disintegrated, and not in a good way.  It disintegrated less like a super juicy diner burger would, and more like I had set in a puddle.  Not good.

Overall, the Agate Alley Burger gets the job done, but it is not a show-stopper.  As far as your campus area pubs go it's probably right on par with what you'd expect, if not a bit on the spendy side.  That said, if you're there on a Tuesday, I recommend the tacos.

Agate Alley Bistro
1461 E 19th Ave.
Eugene, OR 97403

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Wanted: the first burger!

Attention Citizens of Eugene/Springfield!

If you are reading this, you have found the home of the very best burger blog in all of Lane County. Our goal here is to bring you a no holds barred review of a local burger once a week. Welcome.

"But," you ask, "how can this be the best burger blog in Lane County when you have not yet reviewed even a single burger?"

I have to tell you at this point that the answer to the above query is quite simple, if not a tad disappointing: as far as I can tell this is the only burger blog in Lane County.

This is not the only burger blog in Oregon. There is at least one other, but as far as I can tell they have never heard of the second biggest city in Oregon, and have no interest in our eats. To this I say we must fight back.

We will no longer live as second class citizens here in Eugene. We will have our own burger reviews, and we will have them often (I mean.... as often as I can eat extremely decadent burgers and still maintain this girlish figure).

The time is now People of Eugene/Springfield; you have an opportunity to contribute to this noble mission. We are now taking submissions for the first burger to be consumed and then reviewed here at the EBB. Sign in, leave your comments, email, or whatever. take this opportunity to let your voice be heard.

What is your favorite Eugene/Springfield burger? Is it at one of the many well known brew pubs? Is it tucked away on some secret corner? Is it messy or classy, giant and rich or skinny and dirty, all beef or all vegan?

Sound off people of Eugene, and the yummy, yummy burger reviews will follow.


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