Thursday, February 11, 2010

#BestBurger Quest- Silver City Brewery Restaurant Review

Brew pubs, an obvious place to seek the Best Burger in the World.  Used to be, bar-burgers were the epitome.  Bars that served flat-top fried, greasy, crispy edged burgers, reeking of old burger grease.  Or, it could have been the secret sauce- pitchers of beer for $2.  Today, a "bar" is not a place for anything, save bar flies.  Now its a wine bar/ Martini bar/ Sports bar/ Retro bar/ Gay bar/ Country bar/ Blah blah blah bar kinda world.

So there is a diaspora of food expectations in these bars.  In brew pubs the range of expectation is narrowed.  And good beer, the burger accompaniment that rivals fries, attains a higher level of expectation.  I usually avoid brew pubs, because the concepts seem to gravitate to a model that offers more in decor and a carefully crafted "atmosphere" than it does in food and beer flavor.

In Silverdale there is a brew pub, Silver City Brewery.  I journeyed there in the quest for the Best Burger in the World.  If I had looked at the web site for Silver City in the link provided, I would have had high expectations indeed!  It makes me think of the best kinds of brew pubs, the kind you find in San Francisco maybe.  High end "eateries" with slick presentation and clean, modern decor.  The kind of place where no one thinks about paying $12 for a burger.  Reality was different.

I rolled up right at dinner time on a dark and rainy evening.  Don't assume that is foreboding, it is just the Northwest.   Silver City had the vats and plumbing inside, a feature of the layout.  Good idea, since the investment thus gives some atmosphere too.  The bar was packed with all the right people- young, loud, happy and hip, and the dining room was nearly full.  We were sat immediately though, so I am happy so far.

The menu was a good one, food you should expect in a decent brew pub.  Interesting descriptions, but not too fussy.  EXCEPT...panko crusted halibut and chips.  Why, in the name of Bacchus, not use beer batter?  Is the craze for panko overwhelming culinary judgment?  Panko is too dense, absorbs too much oil.  Let's hope that is a simple deviation from good menu planning.

Service was good, the required black polo shirt and khaki pants.  All brew pub servers dress like that.  The tables were nice, brew-pubby: not some exotic surface, not set with fancy service ware.  Building superstructure visible, cement floors, this is a prototypical brew pub.  Easy to understand.  Not very detailed, but enough.  An editorial comment- this place is nothing like the website.  And that's OK.  That  imbalance can be overlooked, the experience in the restaurant is balanced- to a point...

We ordered pilsner.  Good job, nice beer, well rounded light flavor.  This is not Germany, so enthusiasm must be tempered.  The glass was not perfectly clean, the head was absent.



Burgers arrive.  Plating is nice.  Big chunky fries on a big chunky white platter.  Nothing too cute.  We cut em, share em and dig in.  Cooking is as we ordered.  Thick, and juicy meat, obviously fresh.  First thing, the Kobe beef burger.  It does taste different.  Beefier.  Better.  And there is more of it, 2 oz. more.  But is it worth it?  Mmmmmaybe so, if your appetite is up to it.  So, the meat is good.  The bun is too.  It is up to the burger in flavor, structure and look.  Nice job!

There is a minor criticism.  The other stuff on the bun.  Tillamook cheese- great; Tomato- nice ripe and not too thick; Bacon- no great shakes, but it's bacon, so a plus; Lettuce- shredded, just another multi use ingredient in the kitchen, not optimized for a burger, sloppy, lazy and adding no texture (what else is lettuce for???); The special marinated red onions- perfect flavor.  But...the whole thing was too wet with burger juice, special secret sauce and red onion marinade.  Too wet to enjoy as much as I could have.

OK, this is a good burger.  It is also $12 and $14 (for Kobe).  That is a lot of money for a brew pub.  If the place were the highly stylized brewery-eaterie the website shows, I would say all is in balance.  But this is a brew pub in the real world, which is where we eat.  Prices too high by 20%.  I hate overpaying.  But I would do it again.

2 comments:

Ted Amadeus said...

Soooooooooo...Overall: Did it RULE, or did it SUCK?

Paul said...

When reading a review, I look for the "bottom line", the "net-net". I will start leaving a simple judgement- worthy of return visit or not.