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Posts Tagged ‘Tater Tots’

Portland, OR – Lotus Card Room & Cafe

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Cooling my heels waiting for Mrs. BDB to finish a courtroom date in downtown Portland, wandered around a little before perching myself at an outdoor table at the Lotus Card Room & Cafe. According to their website, they have been around since prohibition, when they opened as a “soda bar.” (Why don’t we have soda bars today?).

Lotus is part of Portland’s Concept Entertainment Group, which operates 8 unique, local restaurant/bar concepts.

The menu offers the standard variety of bar fare, appys, burgers, sandwiches, and a few larger entrees. Lotus’ menu claims there are committed to using local and Northwest ingredients; for instance, it’s the second time in a week I have seen a restaurant promote local sausage manufacturer, Zenner’s.

Service was good for a bar; sitting where I was, I had one server and one server-in-training wait on me, so the duty was performed cheerfully by rote.

I ordered the trio of beef sliders, which come dressed with chipotle aioli, shredded lettuce, (and you know how I feel about shredded lettuce on a burger!) and a pickle slice. The server said that fries (or tots) were extra, even tho the sliders are in the same price as the regular burgers, which come w/ fries. She asked if I would like anything else with the fries, like ketchup or hot sauce, and I replied “just salt and pepper.”

After a short wait, the burgers and tots arrived, and the waitress said, “I couldn’t remember what condiment you said you wanted, so I brought ranch dressing for the tater tots.” Ambitious, but off the mark, and I repeated my request for salt and pepper, which she fetched promptly.

The burgers were pretty tasty, the chipotle aioli not so much, and one thing I liked about the burgers is they were hand-formed patties, with buns sized to fit the burgers. Often restaurants idea of a slider is to take one of their standard-sized burgers, cook it, and tear or cut it into two or  three pieces. Unacceptable!

The soft buns were bakery fresh, and the tots, evenly deep-fried to the crispness factor I prefer.

I finished my plate, and the waitress brought the check, stating she was going off duty, and could I take care of it, which I did. With a Diet coke, the burgers and tots came to about $12, avec gratuity. The waitress said she would tell her shift replacement I was outside, so if I wanted anything else, the next server would take care of me, but I was there another hour, and didn’t see hide nor hair of another server.

I’m not sure if Lotus has a happy hour menu, these sliders would be great at about $4, but were a little spendy at $7.95.

I have had a couple of good burgers at another Concept Entertainment bar, but haven’t scratched the list of all their offerings around town, and the menus seem fairly similar.

But the Lotus is a nice oasis for that part of the city, with the notable exception being the parking ramp across the street is $5 per hour, so look to park on the street near by if you are driving.


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Portland, OR – AJs on the Rails

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I had been here once before, albeit only for appetizers, which were more than satisfactory. Today it was a convenient location to meet up with Mr Portland Deal-Maker Attorney Extraordinaire, and try out the burgers, which are intermittently touted highly on various online sites.

The joint is on Morrison, w/i spitting distance of the Max stop, and not far from where the “Dump Sam Adams” campaign was recently evicted from their City of Portland landlord owned digs.

I like places that offer a wide variety of burger toppings of all ilks, and AJs is no exception. In addition to the usual condiments and add-ons, at AJs you can get your burger patty topped with such diverse items as a sausage or fish filet. Well, the latter might appeal to someone, I suspect, perhaps those tipping their hats to a Friday Lenten Lunch, but not willing to commit 100%?

You can find the mostly complete menu online at Urban Spoon, tho they have cut off the burger toppings portion.

In any case, we both ordered cheeseburgers, and there is a fairly broad selection of cheeses to choose from, one of which was AJs “Three Cheese Sauce” which I thought I would give a try, and confused the waiter by asking for same. I clearly meant (in my own demented mind, at least) that the sauce was my burger-topping cheese choice, but he didn’t ask me that, and instead brought a small ramekin of it on the side, w/ my burger topped w/ cheddar.

We both ordered tots as our side choice, and both agreed they are over the top tots, which is what I thought the time I had them on a previous visit.

The patties are clearly hand-formed, lean, cooked to medium (server didn’t ask our preference), and delivered on a fresh, soft bakery roll.

A number of people in other reviews have talked about the burger’s seasoning, which is clearly evident, but makes for some difficulty in ascertaining the pure taste of the grind. My unsophisticated palate found the taste of the seasoning familiar, but I couldn’t place it.

Mr. PDMAE cleared this up for me brilliantly but stating “the hamburger tastes like a hot dog,” and that’s exactly what it was, hints of onion, coriander, maybe mace, ground mustard, paprika, at least that’s what I use when I stuff weenies at home, and this flavor was, indeed, very reminiscent of that. We debated whether the flavoring was on the patty itself or the bun, but did not come to any conclusions.

If I was in the mood to implement my favorite selection out of the seven deadly sins, and opted for gluttony today, I would have constructed my own burger topped with a couple of cheeses, ham, bacon, a fried egg, olives, and maybe the sausage. Not brave enough to add the fish filet, however.

The prices of the extras seemed reasonable, however I take exception to places that charge for condiments that fall into the vegetable variety, and AJs does that, nicking you for extra pickles, onions, peppers, olives and the like. I did not test the limits of their tolerance for not doing this.

Two cheeseburgers with tots, two glasses of water, $18 including tip. Not so bad, not so grand. I would go back on a more weather-hospitable day like my first visit, they have some outside tables and its a good place to have a beer and snack on the sidewalk and people watch, whether your choice for that activity leans towards lurking, or feeling sorry for the aspiring chefs coming out of the nearby cooking school – wondering what small percentage of them will achieve some modicum of success in their careers, and how many will end up flipping burgers at places like AJs?


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