With all the hamburger controversy that has been going on, I thought I would give my .02 cents. Over at ExtraMSG’s site, he has been going through and reviewing many Portland area burgers. It is very thorough, you can read it here: ExtraMSG.com. He likes the Wildwood burger, and since I stopped going to the restaurant a few years ago when I think it took a downturn, I went back to check it out. Those of you who have not read my take on burgers before, you might want to check out the Cafe Castagna review.
The interesting thing is how passionate people are about hamburgers and fries. Everything from the bun, to the grind, to the condiments all play differing roles to people. Like wine, in the end it all comes down to personal taste.
I really wanted to like the Wildwood burger, but have to say I was sorely disappointed. Maybe I just went on the wrong day. I have to agree, the beef here is great. As far as shape of the patty and quality of cooking, this is the best in town. It comes nicely grilled and has a nice smoky flavor. Unfortunately, they completely lost my vote on the condiments.
First of all, the bottom of the house-made bun is slathered with a thick layer of pesto, which in my opinion competes with the meat as the dominating flavor. In addition, the pesto soaked through the bun which fell apart when I picked it up. The burger comes with some shredded lettuce, cooked onions, and aioli. Personally, I don’t like the onions cooked, but prefer them raw with a nice bite. On top of that, I am a purist – no aioli on the bun please, put it in a dish on the side so I can add it if I want. The slice of cheese on top was nice and thick, better then the cheddar at Castagna. Finally, no pickles? Ack! Though they have zucchini dill pickles on other sandwiches, they are noticeably absent here.
For me this burger falls short because the choices as to what should be on the burger are limited to cheese or bacon. One of the reasons everyone liked Foothill broiler so much is because you built your own from the condiment bar. Café Castagna comes with everything on the side, you just add what you want. The addition of the pesto changed it from a hamburger to some gourmet imitation – though I think it would be good on a ground lamb version, this didn’t thrill me at all, and I didn’t like the soggy bun. The fries on the side were a bit oily and I prefer mine crisp, but they were okay and had a nice flavor. I kept thinking, if they put this meat and cheese on a Cafe Castagna burger, the heavens would open. The burger was similar in price to the Castagna @ $12.50 during lunch.
I am going to give Wildwood a few tries for dinner over the next few weeks. It used to be one of my favorite places, as a matter of fact some of the most memorable meals I’ve had in Portland were there. That was years ago and I haven’t been recently. I’ll do a full review when I’ve eaten dinner there enough times to comment. In the meantime, I’m buckling my seatbelt and adding extra hairgel. Everyone feel free to jump me on this one.
Update: I went to Castagna tonight just to make sure the burger was still good. It was. The Cafe Castagna review has been updated slightly with a few new menu items. That is two burgers, with fries in 4 hours. Urp.