The BURGER project inaugural run

In December the A&E section of the Oregonian had a piece on the 10 best classic burgers in Portland. The list looked reasonable but I couldn’t be sure I agreed with the ratings when I realized they left Red Coach and Beaverton Char Burger off the list. This called for some investigation.

I’m not up to the project on my own, I knew I’d need some other expertise. So I asked a couple of buddies to join me. Jay Watson has a science background and I knew I could count on him to help build an excellent measurement tool. John Lee has lived in Portland most of his life and has the kind of background history that I could never match having lived here only 30 years.

First thing we had to do was come up with a name. We’ve settled on The BURGER Project where Burger is an acronym for  Bulbous Urbanites Researching  Gutbomb Eatery Repasts. My son Andrew showed me how to create an online form using Google Docs which will feed a spreadsheet. A list of places to visit was called for. We started with the Oregonian’s list and will add our own as we go on. Our current list is:

  • Beaverton Char Burger
  • Canyon Grill
  • Dea’s In & Out
  • George’s Giant Hamburgers
  • Helvetia Tavern
  • Humdinger Drive-In
  • Mike’s Drive-In
  • Red Coach
  • Roake’s
  • Skyline Restaurant
  • Stanich’s
  • Killer Burger

We  had a group, a name, a goal, a willingness to eat plenty of grease. We had a few delays over the holidays but finally got our inaugural run in today. We hit Dea’s In & Out in Gresham; it’s not related to the California In & Out chain; it must pre-date that chain by many years. A buddy of mine at work used to work there from  1983 to1984. He suggested the fries.

It was a 45 minute drive from Beaverton to the DES (Dreaded East Side) but well worth it. 

Ready to enter

My order came out first so I thought I’d grab a pic before the carnage. This was my first encounter with a long burger in over 30 years. My first week in Caldwell Idaho a group of my new best friends and I walked off campus to “The Long Bun” where I got my first view and taste of a hamburger that isn’t round. I loved it then (of course I probably had had a few beers). Loved it this time too

Ready to be enjoyed. A long burger with cheese and bacon; fries with special sauce and a root beer milkshake

May 27, 2012 update. I’ve been learning more about photo editing. Here’s a little better version of a similar picture to that above

Notice the trays. Jay doesn’t have any fries; turns out he’s not fond of greasy potatoes. WTF?

Jay and John ready to dig in.
Research is more than just eating. Jay shows off the double long burger he had. 

John uses a paper version of our form to tally his results
All done!

We rate hamburger, side dish, drink, service, ambience, and overall score. Our scale runs like this

1 – Horrible 2 – Not the worst ever 3. Average 4. Pretty damn good 5. Epic

Average ratings for the day: 

  • Hamburger: 4
  • Fries: 5 (John and I both had the fries which are perfect; not greasy; perfectly crisp; and awesome secret sauce)
  • Drink: 3 (Scores of 2, 3, and 4) Jay rated his chocolate shake a 4: “good value for soft serve ice cream; he could taste the chocolate.” Jay ever the scientist notes that it is a 24 oz serving. John felt there wasn’t enough flavor and the soft serve ice cream base was a little grainy
  • Ambience and atmosphere: 2.67  I started to rate it a 4 as a nice mix between a diner and a burger joint. But then I visited the men’s room on the way out. I don’t think it had been cleaned since the 80’s.
  • Overall score: 3.3  We all really enjoyed it; rating is like judging gymnastics and ice skating. We have to leave a ceiling for later entries.
First day out was a blast; we’ll be headed out on Saturdays as our schedules allow. 

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