Some of Portland's best-known chefs and restaurants are grinding out new versions, from FosterBurger (led by Pok Pok's Andy Ricker and Sel Gris' Daniel Mondok) to Biwa, where the late-night Japanese pub menu now offers a burger topped with BBQ pork and kim chee mayo. And everyone seems to be talking about the fantastic burger on a homemade bun at Gruner, Christopher Israel's chic new alpine restaurant in downtown Portland.
Now, Northeast Portland's indie restaurant lord Micah Camden -- owner of Fats, Yakuza and DOC -- is weighing in with Little Big Burger. Camden is getting ready to sign a lease for his new fast-food concept in the Pearl District, slated to open in May or June at 505 N.W. 14th Ave.
Camden's mouth-stretching burger at Yakuza -- a tower of domestic kobe beef and goat cheese spilling ribbons of fried, chili-spiked, truffle-scented potatoes on a brioche bun -- is considered one of Portland's best. His Little Big Burger will be a mini Yakuza burger, or what Camden calls a "mega slider." The formula includes Oregon's Highland Oak beef topped with fried potatoes, cheddar cheese and chopped onions on a Grand Central Bakery bun -- for $3.50.
The menu will be limited to just four items: the burger, fries ($2), canned soda ($1) and canned beers, served in a bright, clean fast-food-inspired atmosphere with white and sunburst orange colors, counter service, 25 seats and outdoor picnic tables.
I thought there was a thread on this already, but couldn't find it. This is the old Chow spot.
This doesn't seem like a clear winner to me: 1) a lot of really good burgers around the Pearl in places with a lot more variety, even if more expensive, 2) paying servers on such low margins/tickets seems dangerous, 3) going head-to-head with chains where the burgers have improved a lot lately. (Really, the angus burger at McD, the six dollar burger at Carl's Jr, etc, are a big step up from national fast food burgers from just 5 years ago. Plus if 5 Guys is truly going to bring in 20 locations to the area? At least the Pearl is harder for these guys to move into, but Subway and Chipotle already have shops.)
Hopefully they'll be really good and really quick, because the price is very fair.