I often feel like a broken record writing burger reviews. I’ve written almost 200 of these things at this point, and there are only so many ways you can describe a hamburger before you start repeating yourself (and repeating yourself, and repeating yourself).
Of course, the vast majority of people reading any given review will have popped in based on a Google search; they’ll read the review they came for, and that’s that. Those people have no idea how repetitive these reviews can be, which, oddly, makes me feel a little bit better about the whole thing.
But if you’re one of the much smaller group of people who have read a bunch of these reviews… get ready for some greatest hits. These complaints are all going to seem pretty familiar.
And yes, it’s mostly complaints, sadly. Though I’ve actually heard very good things about the burger at Portland Variety, the one I was served wasn’t particularly good.
The PV Burger, per the restaurant’s menu: “House made milk bun, smoked applewood cheddar, zucchini pickle, gherkin aioli, cassava frites.”
The main problem? The texture. The patty was way, way too finely ground and tightly packed (I’ve never made that complaint before, right guys??). It wasn’t too bad around the medium-well middle, but the well done edges were dry, dense, and chewy. It has that saltine effect, where you feel like you need to take a drink of water between each bite to prevent your mouth from completely drying out.
Otherwise, the burger is either fine or slightly better than fine. Aside from the aforementioned issues, the patty was decent enough (if a bit too peppery), with a mild beefy flavour and a decent amount of juiciness (at least around the middle). If it weren’t for the fine grind and the dense texture, it would have been a solid burger.
This would be the part of the review where I’d mention if it was griddled or grilled, but to be honest, despite the fact that it’s only been a few hours since I ate it, I’ve already forgotten. It wasn’t particularly memorable.
As for the toppings, the pickles were fine, and the cheddar was probably a bit too strong, but it was melty and tasty. The “gherkin aioli” basically just tasted like a grainy mustard. It wasn’t bad — I generally find mustard a little overpowering on a burger, but this had a nice zing without getting in the way.
The bun was great. It was easily the best part of the burger. It was soft and fresh, with the perfect amount of substance.
The cassava fries were interesting. They were mostly quite tasty, with a very crispy exterior and a creamy, slightly chewy interior. But one of them featured a papery skin I couldn’t bite through, and the mayo-based dipping sauce was seriously bland, with a broken emulsion that made it unpleasantly greasy.