Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Restaurant Review- Red Mill Makes Enigmatic Burgers

Sometimes the hamburger is not a hamburger.  Red Mill is widely acclaimed as THE place for hamburgers in Seattle.  There are a lot of things to recommend it, but maybe not hamburger.  However, the hamburgers are good.  I will explain.

First, you know you are there when you get there- it is in a very trendy part of town.  The building is what you would design to be designated as a neighborhood "dive".  Not too self conscious.  Nicely balanced.  The menu is simple, and burger centric.  Nice little touches like the loose-leaf paper inside the plastic sleeve written in a Sharpie to let you know their secret sauce is "NOT 1000 island dressing".  OK.  The line out the door, the cuties behind the counter, and the people in line tell you this is the place to be.  It must be good.  We shall see...

Prices are a pleasant surprise! I can get a burger deluxe (lettuce, tomato onion), for just over $4.  Then on up to top out at less than $7.  A big line of meat alternative burgers.  Shakes for just over $3, fries $1.85.  So thats where the margins are.  OK.  Get in line, order, wait.  Watch the hockey puck meat patties hit the grill.  Uh oh!  Of course, they MAY have to grind in the early morning hours, patty the meat and stack it with parchment separators to keep up with this volume.  Hang in there...

Name called, burgers come.  Good tray presentation- this is the way a tray of burger love looks.  Fries may be house made, probably not, but they are decent.  The frozen fry world has really improved.  Malt was malty, and chocolatey.  Hershey's.  Good, but a bit too heavy handed on the syrup, still, that is a matter of taste. 

Burgers: The Verde burger- WOW!  Like the little hand made sign said, they really invest in the green chiles.   If you look at the fresh roasted Anaheim chiles, you can see a lot of work, and a lot of chiles.  Perfect heat and flavor.  This makes the Verde worth the premium.  And the Bleu- the cheese is the right bleu  that doesn't overwhelm, but there is a significant portion- very unusual indeed!  But the bacon on this same burger?  Over cooked, not fresh, seems not to be thoughtful.  Too bad, it is almost worth the premium.

But, take a look at the basic burger deluxe.  Nice- leaf lettuce.  The right way.  The burger patty?  A dry, lifeless puck o meat.  Wide, not too thick, not too tasty.  Like the bun, it is a vehicle for the rest of the art.
Ironically, the meat comes in boxes from MacDonald Meat Co.  

Honorable mention- the onion rings.  Thick sweet onion slices, spicy, perfectly cooked.  Forget the fries, this is the way to go, and something to go here for.    

Confused?  So am I.  Is Seattle so easy to please?  Let's think about it.  No promise was made of fresh ground designer beef.  Price, atmosphere food quality all in balance.  This is not a damn $12 burger!  Its an honest, simple, right priced sandwich.  I would definitely go back, and its the Verde burger for me- let the meat be the vehicle for the chiles!  But is this the place to enter in Seattle's quest for the BBW? You decide.

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