There are quite a few posts around various foodie and burger websites that call this “Portland’s Best Burger.”
Even the title bar on the Slow Bar’s webpage says “Home of the Best Burger in Portland.”
I decided to check in out tonight, and see if reached the same conclusion. There are two burgers on the menu, the “Slowburger,” (1/2 pound Painted Hills natural beef, Gruyere, onion rings, butter lettuce, and pickle relish), and the “Summer Slowburger”, (1/2 pound Painted Hills natural beef, Grafton cheddar, heirloom tomato, dill pickle and iceberg lettuce). I have seen a reference to their “Winter Slowburger”, but of course that’s not on offer yet. Burgers come with a choice of fries or slaw.
The Slow Bar is located in the SE quadrant of Portland, in a neighborhood comprised of a few other bars and shops, and right across the street from a relief mission, feeding the homeless. If I was a caring person, I would have felt guilty about that, but I’m not, and I didn’t.
I sat down inside and changed booths twice, looking for comfort (and light). I would have preferred to sit outside, but all the tables were occupied, not so for the inside, a couple of couples in booths and two men at the bar watching football, and dutifully yelling at the screen from time to time.
The Slow Bar has a good selection of big brand domestic and imported beers, and a few local micros. I was tempted to go for a sudsy Hamm’s, a childhood memory, but I stuck to root beer, and ordered the Slow Burger medium rare, side of fries.
It took awhile to come, but I wasn’t really watching the clock, maybe that’s what the name of the bar means? (I didn’t ask). It’s an impressive presentation, as you can see, and comes as described on the menu, with the addition of a garlic mayo on the top of the toasted bun, which was great. Usually I’d be a little leery (geez, I said that yesterday) of “special sauce”, but the pickle relish (diced dill in something red) was ok. The bun was perfect for the 8 oz (obviously a “pre-cooked” weight) patty, which was done just slightly past the medium rare I had requested, but that wasn’t an issue with me either.
The two onion rings on top of the burger are maybe the best I have had in Portland, or anywhere, at least in a long time, I only ate a half of one, and a smattering of the fresh cut, some skin on fries, which were perfectly done. A review I read somewhere complained that the ketchup (served in a small ramikin) was ice cold, as was mine, but that doesn’t move me to griping either.
The flavor of the “natural” beef was fine, but I was expecting (hoping) for it to be a little “gamier”, not in a bad way, but like how “natural” ham tastes nothing like a Hormel or Honeybaked pre-sliced hunk o pork. I wanted the animal to taste more animal, and I would have expected less shrinkage, having read the Painted Hills description of how the cattle are raised and how they are fed. While there was no fat evident in the finished product, it had lost 20-25% of its weight in the cooking.
A good burger, all in all. And the rest of the menu looks great, too. But “Portland’s Best?” That remains to be seen. I think I have about 3,427 more to check out.