Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wannaburger (Edinburgh, Scotland)

217 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1PE, Scotland, T: +44-131 225 8770


Over a year ago I returned to Edinburgh, where I lived years ago, and was happy to see a new burger joint on High Street. Wannaburger serves a wide variety of different burgers: 13 meat and 3 vegetarian burgers. In addition, the have salads, shakes (including a peanut butter & banana), deserts, and breakfast.

Wannaburger is an upscale burger joint, which is clean inside and fairly pricey (£5.95-£8.50). However, this is one of the few places in Europe where the burgers are as good as in the US: real grilled beef and fresh vegetables. I went for the priciest, the BBQ Bacon (without cheese), and was amazing! The banana shake (£2.95) was up to the task too!

VERDICT: 89/100
Wannaburger must be one of the best burger joints outside of the US. They make burgers as they should be made: big, fresh, grilled and juicy. They are easily worth the money and Brits can only hope that this will become a chain that ventures far outside of the Edinburgh city limits (where it just opened its second shop in the West End).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bliss' Hot Rod Grill (Florence, OR)

1179 U.S. Highway 101, Florence, OR, T: 541-997-6726

Bliss' Hot Rod Grill is one of the most notable building in Florence, at the beautiful Oregon coast. Situated at coastal highway 101, the whole outside of the restaurant is filled with parts of old American cars (as well as an original Big Boy). The inside is much the same, and you can actually eat inside a car!

The menu is pretty straightforward old-school diner, covering the usual suspects: salads, sandwiches, burgers, milkshakes, etc. As not uncommon in these places, quantity is put over quality. The portions were huge (see my burger below), but not very tasty. The price is reasonable, but you do notice you are eating at a touristic attraction.


VERDICT: 50/100
Bliss' Hot Rod Grill is more an interesting attraction than a good pig out spot. It's a nice stop to visit on your drive over beautiful US-101, but stick with a creamy shake and get some fish and chips further up the road.

Belgian Fries (Vancouver)

1803 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC V5N 4A6, T: 604-253-4220


Vancouver is an energetic, multicultural city with various small neighborhoods with great ethnic restaurants. One of them is a classic pig out spot Belgian style, selling almost exclusively Belgian fries. Belgian Fries offers two main dishes: a bag (puntzak) of fries or poutine, a specific Canadian (Quebecois) dish of fries, cheese curds and gravy (which, to be honest, looked pretty gross). We shared the biggest bag of fries and ordered a variety of the different sauces that Belgian Fries makes (none of them are truly Belgian, but many are absolutely original).

VERDICT: 66/100
Belgian Fries is one of the few attempts at copying a Belgian frituur in North America. The fries are quite decent, but not remarkable, and certainly not of good Belgian quality. I assume the poutine is exceptional, but it didn't look attractive to me. If you are in Vancouver for a longer period of time, do stop by for a snack. If you are there for a short period of time, I'm sure you'll be able to find many better pig out spots.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Johnny's Grill (El Reno, OK)

301 S. Rock Island, El Reno, OK, T: 405-262-4721

On our road trip from Atlanta to Eugene, M.G. and I drove as much of the old Route 66 as possible. In Oklahoma the old 66 went through the little town of El Reno, which has one claim to fame: Johnny's Grill - Home of the Onion-Fried Burger! It is a no-thrills local place with a diner-type menu, an open kitchen, and walls full of Route 66 memorabilia.

I don't remember much, as it was almost 6 months ago, but I do know that the onion-fried burger didn't look like much, but tasted damn good. The patty is fresh and thin, the onions taste amazing. Overall, it is a pretty small snack, but with a big taste. We didn't try much else, although M. had a pumpkin role, which was sweet and tasty.

VERDICT: 80/100
Johnny's Grill is worth a visit for the onion-fried burger and the old-school look! You won't find many places that are so authentic and so little pretentious. Another good thing, the friend-onion burger is cheap ($3.00) and not very heavy, so you can even drop by when you are not really hungry. ;-)

Red Mill Burgers (Seattle)

Phinney Ridge: 312 N 67th St, Seattle, WA 98103, T: (206) 783-6362.
Interbay: 1613 W Dravus St, Seattle, WA, T: (206) 284-6363


I was pointed to the delights of Red Mill Burgers by the fantastic tv program Man vs. Food. Its host, Adam Richman, was raving about their onion rings and burgers, so the next time I was in the neighborhood, I stopped by to sample the goods. Since then, I have been back three times, visiting both shops, and I live almost 5 hours away!


Red Mills Burgers does exactly what it says: burgers! It has a broad variety of burgers, including chicken and different veggie ones. They are famous for their verde burgers, made with freshly peeled and roasted Anaheim peppers. I had four different burgers at Red Mill: (1) the Red Mille Deluxe, a basic burger with their own "mill sauce"; (2) the Verde Burger, with fire roasted Anaheim peppers, (3) the BBQ Burger, with bbq sauce, and (4) the Bacon Deluxe, with bacon (duh!). In all cases the burgers were big, fresh, and juicy, but I prefered the 'simple' Red Mill Deluxe. Seriously, the burgers at Red Mill are so good, you don't need anything else than that! It costs $4.09 (excl. tax), but comes without any sides.

And talking about sides, not taking anything away from their burgers, but oddly enough, Red Mills Burgers stands out in its... onion rings! I am not even a fan of onion rings, but their Babe's Onion Rings ($2.59) are to die for! Do add a side of Tub O' Tartar Sauce ($0.23). If you have any space left, get a side of french fries ($1.89); as the onion rings, they are fried in 100% peanut oil. The fries are not special, but they are very decent. Finally, do not leave without a shake; they have many different tastes at $3.19 (I love their banana shakes!).

UPDATE: I can also vouch for the Red Onion Jam Burger, with baked red onions, and the BLT (on whole wheat toast and with thick peppered bacon). Both are YUM!

VERDICT: 92/100
The onion rings are, without a shadow of a doubt, the best I ever ate. Absolutely amazing! The fries are good, but no competition for the onion rings. The burgers are among the best I ate at a pig out spot, though I wasn't that impressed by the verde or bbq burgers. The milkshakes were really creamy and tasty.

If you are in Seattle, you MUST go to Red Mill Burgers! And once you are there, and have waited your turn (there is ALWAYS a serious wait!), do get whatever burger you want and do NOT leave without the onion rings and tartar sauce!