Many speak of Helvetia as if it is the “mecca” of Portland area burgers. It must be, because one must almost go on a hadj to get there, it’s a hike out into the country. Nevertheless, Wednesday is my “out for a burger day”, so I trekked out past strip malls, housing tracts, petite wineries and sheep farms to tackle the holy grail of Oregon burgers.
One immediately notes the sign above the door: “This is not Burger King. You don’t get it YOUR way, you get it MY way, or you don’t get it, Son of a Bitch!”
I took it to heart, as apparently do most diners. I didn’t hear a whole lot of special orders. In fact, none. The standard burger comes with precisely, one toasted bun, special sauce (mustard and mayo?), shredded lettuce, raw onions, pickles on the side, a little tomato, and a bag of regular Lay’s chips.
I ordered mine with bacon/cheese (which is permitted) and a side of fries. (See other options on the pic of the menu, below).
It’s Wednesday afternoon and the place is jammed. Tables inside and out are full, but I have a clear shot at the bar, next to the 3 cook grill station, which is operating like clockwork. In all, I count nine employees. May have been one or two hidden somewhere. You read some reviews of this place, and I’ve noticed a few complaints, but based on my experience, I think those complaints come from people that complain about everything. For the size of the place, staff, and crowd, I don’t think things could have gone any better, and tho I wasn’t expecting it (tho my wife claims I get “this look” when I am unhappy with service), two waiters apologized to me for the delay, and when I was served my burger, the server said “we put some extra bacon on it because of the delay”. SWEET.
Tho I wasn’t impatient, I was happy to steal their paper, do the crossword, and suck down an RC (“the only cola we serve!” another sign says).
I didn’t try the rings, tho they looked great, but both the fries and rings went from a plastic bag to the fryer, so they weren’t made on site. The burgers came in boxes from Ponderosa Provisions, in Aloha, Oregon. No complaints from me tho.
A good portion of the crowd seemed to order double (and triple) jumbos, but my “regular” cheeseburger and fries were more than I could handle. The lunch crowd started to thin, so when I was served, I left the bar (and the guy next to me that had a double jumbo, then ordered two more to go), and sat outside on the back deck, in the sun, under the blue Oregon sky, gazing out over pastoral Hillsborough.
If I lived nearby, I’d be there often. Lots of smiles from the help, a great burger, and a serene setting.
View Larger Map