Treats and Tragedies on the road: Burgerville (Albany, OR)

Recently, it was announced that Boise will soon have a Chipotle of its very own.  This news excited me to no end because, to be frank, I like Chipotle every bit as much as I do Baja Fresh.  Shortly after, Michael Deeds took to Facebook to find out what other chain eateries we'd like to see around here.  Of course, nine out of every ten answers was In-N-Out Burger, but there were a few other names mentioned here and there, and Burgerville was one of them.

Burgerville is a chain out of Oregon and Washington, and I'll give you three guesses what it is they serve.  Still, I was curious, and they ended up becoming a late addition to our itinerary.  We actually ended up stopping by on our way back to the hotel from my cousin's wedding.  I was in a pretty good mood because the wedding was a lot better than I expected it to be (weather aside).  The location was beautiful, the audience was casual, the food was good, even the bridesmaids gowns looked good!  The only thing that could have made it better was single malt scotch, and the groom's rather thoughtful brother brought along a half gallon of very decent stuff to share around.  Afterwards, I was tired, very socially lubricated and craving meat.  My brother and I were the only ones where were interested at the time, and we both ended up getting the Pepper Bacon Burger.  However, while he stuck with fries, I opted for the seasonal golden-fried asparagus spears with garlic aioli dipping sauce.

Fries.  Seen one, seen 'em all but you still gotta love them...

I did snag a picture of my brother's fries (and a couple of the fries themselves) in the process of handing the bag back to him.  I prefer mine a little crispier and more golden brown, but the fact remains that they were hot, salty, crisp and generally tasty.  It doesn't seem like too much to expect of a burger joint, but I think it's safe to say that most of us have had plenty of bad experiences.  These were nothing great, but they were good and that counts for quite a bit sometimes, especially after many hours of driving, a few hours of sleep and then several hours of drinking.

Golden-fried Asparagus Spears with garlic aioli

My asparagus spears were one of the highlights of my day.  Rather than being completely battered and then fried into mushy, greasy ropes, these were more or less perfect.  The asparagus still had a little texture to it, the batter thin enough that you could still see the asparagus through it all over, and that means you could still taste the asparagus as well, which is the most important thing.  The breading itself was nicely seasoned, to the point where I really didn't even bother with the dipping sauce.  It simply wasn't needed.  I hadn't even tasted the burger yet, and I was already thinking I could have just gotten a second order of asparagus instead and called it a night.  And in retrospect, I wish I had.

Pepper Bacon Burger

The menu describes the Pepper Bacon Burger thus: Country Natural Beef, pepper bacon, Tillamook cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles and ketchup on a sesame seed bun.  This is a completely accurate description.  I'll go further by saying that the bun was soft, the bacon thick and crisp, the pickles and onions flavorful, the condiments judiciously used, the lettuce and tomato fresh, and the cheese delicious as most Tillamook cheeses are.  The problem?  The burger was cold.  The cheese was merely softened, not melted.  I don't know about you, but temperature and texture are some of the things I like most about burgers.  Hell, I still miss the McDLT for the simple reason that the veggies stayed cold and crisp, the meat and cheese hot and juicy until you put them together yourself and started eating.  I munched the thing dejectedly, while my brother had the brilliant idea of waiting until we got to the hotel and zapping his in the microwave.  He said it helped immensely.  I wish I'd thought of that, but I wish even more that it hadn't been necessary.  I mean this was a Saturday night, isn't that when high turnover is supposed to ensure freshness? 

A whole new kind of "morning after" regret...
The next day while digging through my pockets, I came across the receipt and saw that it contained the nutritional information for the food we'd ordered.  I don't know if it's supposed to educate or frighten people, but in my case it did both.  Anyway, while I would rate the experience average on the whole, I would definitely return.  First of all, those asparagus spears were outrageously good.  Secondly, a closer perusal of their menu reveals everything from Yukon and white bean burgers with basil aioli to fried halibut sandwiches.  To be honest though, I'd either go to a different location or at least make sure I was hitting this one during peak hours.  I want a burger that's been cooked, not just one with a tan.
Food:  B-
Value:  B-
Service:  C
Atmosphere:  C+
Final Grade:  B-
Burgerville on Urbanspoon

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