Okay. I’ll try and keep this in perspective. The double-pattied burger was pretty tasty and was certainly light-years better than most fast food burgers. I mean, unlike my last Burger King experience (years ago) it didn’t cause massive gastrointestinal distress or make me feel like I’d swallowed a pregnant gerbil.
The use of bamboo, sorghum and recycled materials in the store architecture itself and other sustainable practices (such as donating waste oil and use of post-consumer content paper) are admirable. And, the optional ingredient list earned my respect right off the bat. You sure won’t find caramelized onions, balsamic mustard and hot pepper relish at Wendy’s.
Bottom line: It truly is a good option for a quick bite if you happen to be in the Maine Mall area.
But it ain’t no In-N-Out Burger.
I feel Elevation Burger, with a newly opened franchise on Westbrook Ave., goes awry on a few fronts.
1. The Beef. I get the idea. Less saturated fat, blah, blah, blah. But organic, grass-fed cows don’t really make the best meat for a burger. It works beautifully for steaks, but – IMHO – burgers depend on a good mix of beef and fat mixed together. Without a healthy dose of fat, the hamburger tastes kinda empty. When I plucked a chunk of the meat away from all the fixins, my reaction was, “Meh.”
2. The Fries. The olive oil fries (again, I appreciate the gesture) were flat-out soggy and tasted like oil rather than good, fresh potato. In-N-Out’s approach of cooking fries in 100% pure, cholesterol-free vegetable oil produces a crisper, more flavorful fry.
3. The Price. I was a tad tweaked that I had to pay an extra $.40 for the good cheddar cheese. This brought my burger and fries alone to $9.00 before tax. Not to say it’s not worth the price compared to other fast food restaurants, but for $4.00 more I could be enjoying crispy hand cut fries and noshing an awesome, medium rare burger in a brioche bun right in downtown Portland (granted, no tip is necessary at Elevation).
I’m willing to say that my expectations were too high. Perhaps 13 years in San Francisco enjoying In-N-Out corrupted me. I really do give Elevation props for their “closest thing to healthy” approach and general commitment to sustainability, but why not go all the way and remove the high fructose corn syrup from the premises? A whiz-bang high tech soda machine does offer seltzer water as an option among the Coke products (great for someone like me who shuns traditional soda), but why not a healthier approach on that front?
When you’re running to Home Depot or a movie and feel peckish, there are many worse options than Elevation Burger. The burger WAS pretty good. And, you could feel about good eating it. I guess that is what really matters. Besides, the closest In-N-Out is in Nevada.