Burger mecca launches first franchise in Happy Valley

Saturday the first franchise in the Killer Burger chain had their "Friends and Family" night, and my wife and I were on the guest list. Located at 147th and Sunnyside Rd. in Happy Valley this newest location is sure to bring local diners to the Killer Burger bandwagon.

With a Killer new design esthetic and a full bar this is my kind of burger joint! 

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A fresh faced young crew works the main food counter, but grizzled veterans run the bar and keep the peace.  With a great selection of punch drinks and beer on the menu and a full bar for those over 21 it's a burger joint concept for a new generation.

 Fast food burger joints with full bars? Bye bye McDonald's  

Fast food burger joints with full bars? Bye bye McDonald's  

With burgers ranging from the basic "Purist" (with just onions, pickles, lettuce, mayo, and ketchup adorning the 1/3rd pound patty) to the "Barnyard" (which adds bacon, ham, egg, and a second patty along with Smokey house sauce in place of mayo)  these burgers are built to appeal to every craving.  Every sandwich includes unlimited fries as well.

 " The Lineup" 

" The Lineup" 

I went with the above mentioned Barnyard, and overall was impressed.  The burger itself was juicy and full of flavor, with plenty of fat to deliver the flavor you would expect from a premium burger.  Constructed with a great balance of toppings  there wasn't too much lettuce or too little sauce, and the tomatoes were firm and flavorful. I would have preferred a fuller flavored pickle, but no burger is perfect.  In my opinion, an egg on a burger should be runny so that the yolk creates a sauce for the burger and this was served over medium and firm, again a matter of preference not a deal breaker.

 " The Barnyard Burger" 

" The Barnyard Burger" 

The fries were crisp and delicious, cooked all the way through in the center without being too starchy. 

Overall it was a great dining experience in a great new venue that will spell a great new future for a PDX favorite.  Franchisees Wes and Coral Welterman can be proud of their new project.  If what I saw tonight it's any indication they have a hit on their hands.

 Coral and Wes Welterman pose in front of the kitchen at Killer Burger - Sunnyside  

Coral and Wes Welterman pose in front of the kitchen at Killer Burger - Sunnyside  

Fat Boy Summer Road Trip, Part 3

The final installment of our summer journey covering the drive from Roswell, NM to Salem, OR during which time we discover that Chris Ledoux was right, life really is a highway.

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Fat Boy Summer Road Trip, part 2

Day 5

We left St. Louis after a great time catching up with the Golden family and headed south to Memphis.  Alongthe way we stopped at Stonie's Sausage Shop for some road snacks.  They had a great selection of fresh made smoked meats and sausages, great homemade jerky, and a wide selection of local area products from pickles to pork rinds, wine, and sodas.  It was a great find.  We picked up some cheese, some snack sticks, and some bologna and sausage to thow in the cooler for the drive to Memphis.

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 Even on a Monday evening Beale Street was busy.

Even on a Monday evening Beale Street was busy.

After a long drive we made it to Memphis around 8pm and headed straight to Beale St., starting at the West end at the Hard Rock Cafe.  If you have never been to Memphis, TN it really is a trip every music lover should take.  The sights and sounds even on a Monday night were spectacular, with live music coming from every juke joint on Beale.  We walked "with our boots ten feet off of Beale" taking in the sights and sounds until we reached the end of the entertainment district and were waived into Coyote Ugly by their manager T.  It was quiet on a Monday night, but we ended up having a ton of fun and closing the place down with Morgan and Evee.

 In this job attitude is everything, and the Memphis Coyotes had it.  Evee was fiesty and up for a challenge.

In this job attitude is everything, and the Memphis Coyotes had it.  Evee was fiesty and up for a challenge.

 Morgan was pure attitude, running the bartop like it was a circus tent at times to try and get tips from a small crowd while drawing people in off of the street.

Morgan was pure attitude, running the bartop like it was a circus tent at times to try and get tips from a small crowd while drawing people in off of the street.

 Some customers relucktently dance on the bar for a photo....

Some customers relucktently dance on the bar for a photo....

 Other customers are much more enthusiastic!

Other customers are much more enthusiastic!

 What's a guy to do when his buddy wanders away and the next round comes?

What's a guy to do when his buddy wanders away and the next round comes?

 This fat boy drinks them both and hopes his boy comes back before the next round hits the bar....

This fat boy drinks them both and hopes his boy comes back before the next round hits the bar....

 And then your bartenders steal your phone off the bar to take a selfie!

And then your bartenders steal your phone off the bar to take a selfie!

Day 6

Left Memphis for Shreveport, LA.  The long night had us so tired we forgot to set the alarm and were woken up by the guy at the front desk telling us it was checkout time.  Fortunately he gave us a late checkout without a hassle.  We had a huge breakfast at Cracker Barrel and were on our way.

It was a long drive, but we made it into Shreveport and got checked into our hotel.  It was right next to the Louisiana Downs racetrack and casino, so we walked over there to find dinner.

Fuddruckers was the only restaurant in the casino still open, but they have always made an amazing burger so we had a nice meal.  We played the slots for a few minutes after dinner then called it an early night.

 

Day 7

After an early night we got up and packed after a decent breakfast buffet at the hotel.  After a long drive made it to Austin, TX.

 Stubbs BBQ has quickly become one of the premiere music venues in Austin, and they proudly have decorated with concert posters from previous shows.

Stubbs BBQ has quickly become one of the premiere music venues in Austin, and they proudly have decorated with concert posters from previous shows.

 I had the 3-meat combo with spare ribs, brisket, and classic sausage.  On the side I had Serrano Cheese spinach and mashed sweet potatoes.  

I had the 3-meat combo with spare ribs, brisket, and classic sausage.  On the side I had Serrano Cheese spinach and mashed sweet potatoes.  

No trip to Austin is complete for me without a trip to Stubbs BBQ.  Stubbs Legendary BBQ has been doing pit style BBQ right since Mr. Stubblefield opened the original (and now closed) joint in Lubbock in 1968.  He was instrumental in breaking musical talent like Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughn back then and ever since live music has been almost as important as the food to Stubbs' customers and fans worldwide.

After a great dinner at Stubbs we headed for 6th Street to find a party.  We walked the North side of the block then crossed to come back to Chuggin' Monkey to get a look at the band that we could hear from across the street.

The Blues Posse were tearing it up! Their lead guitar, Jack Edery was pulling blues licks from all over the spectrum and doing them well.  Vocals from Mr. Jamie van Beek were tight and accurate.  A great show.  On to the next spot.

 Blues Posse blew the roof off of The Chuggin' Monkey during their first set

Blues Posse blew the roof off of The Chuggin' Monkey during their first set

We left the Chuggin' Monkey and wandered into Pete's Dueling Piano Bar.  It was packed, with hundreds of people all singing along and shouting requests spanning the decades.

Another music town, another Coyote Ugly! Rosalyn, Morgan, and Ashley were fun but didn't match the energy or fun of the great ladies we met a couple of days ago in Memphis. 

We closed Coyote Ugly down again, and headed back to the hotel.

Day 8

We got up and moving planning on heading for Amarillo, but plans to see a friend fell through so we changed our routing a bit, heading to Roswell, NM instead. It was a long drive, but we made Roswell about 7:30 local time.  We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant recommended by the girl at the front desk called Los Cerritos.

I had a great stuffed sopapilla with all the trimmings.  The recommendation if anything undersold the food.  I love New Mexican food, with the great use of hatch green chiles and a unique addition of fried dough.

So, I obviously had to eat while I was in Columbus right?

It just happened to be restaurant week in Columbus, Ohio this week while I was there with Carrie and we had the opportunity to sample some great food from some restaurants that we might not have otherwise tried.  We also tried some new pizza places and delivery services to get a better idea of the food options in a downtown area that is pretty quiet after dark.

Our first delivery option was pizza, and we decided to give OH Brew & Pizza a try.  It was a Friday night and ended up being the first night of OhioCon which just happened to be a couple blocks away from the restaurant we ordered from.  This led to a 90 minute delivery time, which was less than thrilling for us but the restaurant was good about keeping us informed.

The pizza itself was pretty good, with a crisp crust and just enough sauce to add good flavor without overwhelming the cheese and toppings.  Meat quantity and quality was great, with even coverage and solid flavor.  Overall quite good and we will order from them again.  We tried a couple of their side items, both loaded tots and fried crustables.  Both arrived a little cold and a lot greasy.  The fryer temperature was too low and they took too long to arrive for them to be any good to me.  We may try them again at the restaurant but won't order them out again.

The next night Carrie had a working dinner so I had dinner with my cousin and his wife at a popular Mexican restaurant near the OSU campus called MadMex.  I went with the carnitas burrito and I was pleased but not wowed.  After growing up with so much great authentic mexican food Midwest college town versions of Mexican food don't excite me.  There was ok flavor but no heat, and the citrus was nowhere to be tasted in a dish that normally would hinge on it being front and center.  Portions were huge and quality was decent but uninspiring.

 The Carnitas Burrito is served with r oasted green chilis inside, blue cornbread, pico and sweet-n-sour slaw on the side.

The Carnitas Burrito is served with roasted green chilis inside, blue cornbread, pico and sweet-n-sour slaw on the side.

The only other real meal out that we had was our last night in town.  Quite a few restaurants had special three course menus at reduced prices to encourage people to try new places for restaurant week, so we gave BareBurger on High Street a try.  Located just across from the convention center at the beginning of Columbus' Short North arts district BareBurger has quickly made a name for themselves serving organic and free range menu items while being careful to cater to dietary and allergy restrictions.

 

 While limited the 3 Course menu BareBurger featured for Restaurant Week actually presented quite a range of options

While limited the 3 Course menu BareBurger featured for Restaurant Week actually presented quite a range of options

Since I cant have onions my first course was the Pickles & Slaw appetizer.  Featuring bread and butter, sour, garlic, and hot pickles along with a brussel sprout slaw it is actually a great sampler if you like pickles (which I do).  All of their pickles are made in house and are very good.  I love a good bread and butter pickle and BareBurgers offering reminded me quite a bit of the pickles my grandmother used to make when I was a kid.  The sour and garlic pickles were about average, and the hot pickles could have used more pepper and less garlic but were quite good as well.  In all it was a good start to the dinner.

 The Pickle & Slaw sampler

The Pickle & Slaw sampler

For my second course I had the Wiki Wiki - a wild boar burger with duck bacon, gouda, and grilled pineapple on a brioche bun.  The boar was perfectly seasoned, allowing some of the gaminess of the meat to come through without allowing it to overpower the sandwich.  Their duck bacon is a treat.  Crisp and just the right amount of fatiness it adds just the right amount of flavor to the sandwich and is cut just right by the acid of the pineapple.  This is a well designed and balanced sandwich.

In all our dining experiences in Columbus were again pretty average.  Next trip I'll try to hit some of the more trendy spots in the Short North and Downtown, but we haven't had a bad meal in our visits yet.

Leftover mashed potatoes? Earn some fat boy street cred with this Fat Boy Mashed Potato Soup

The holiday season is full of big meals and family gatherings, but that means it is also full of leftovers.  One of the hardest things to reuse around our house has always been left over mashed potatoes.

i came across a recipe for mashed potato soup from Rachael Ray and decided to take it to the next level to make it a Fat Boy recipe instead of just a family friendly one.  The biggest changes are adding more bacon and switching to beef broth instead of chicken.  Both changes make for a deeper and richer soup, trust me, your family will love the changes.

 

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Ingredients

  • A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 lb. bacon, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

Preparation

In a medium pot or Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.

Drain off excess bacon fat from the pot and add butter. When it is melted, add the onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. Sprinkle flour into the pot and cook with a wooden spoon for one minute. Whisk in the beef stock and bring to a bubble. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.

Whisk in mashed potatoes, then stir in the cheddar cheese with a wooden spoon and cook until the potatoes are hot and the cheese is melted. Add half the bacon and let cook for 3-5 minutes to allow flavor to combine.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved bacon and chopped chives. Instant Fat Boy Heaven.