Reviewed by: Kevin
Friends, readers, burger-lovers, the last time I wrote it was from a bench in a hotel restaurant, the dying World Cup hopes of the US Men’s National Team displayed across the bar television. It’s four years later, and there’s no USMNT to not believe in, but there are still burgers to be eaten.
A lot has happened in the last four years. I moved from Los Angeles to New Hampshire, and then from New Hampshire to Seattle. We all got really into Serial, but then Serial got super bad. We have a new president, and he’s even worse than the second season of Serial. Are there any constants anymore?
Burger Diaries is hardly a constant – it’s been four years, people – but here we are. In the past four years, I’ve had great burgers, terrible burgers, crazy burgers, small burgers, burgers that are only remarkable because I discovered a great beer while I was eating there, burgers that I liked a lot but maybe only because there wasn’t anything better in the cuisine wasteland that is New Hampshire, and a string of uniformly average burgers here in Seattle. And now The Seattle Times is conducting a Seattle Burger Battle Royale. What better time to dive back in? It’s not like I’ve been failed by overhyped, burger-themed events before… right?
I’ve been to a handful of these restaurants before, but there’s one just across the canal I had yet to try – Wallyburger. Located in the main drag of Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, Wallyburger is an Old West style joint. It’s basically Westworld minus the murderous, sentient robots. And much like Jimmi Simpson, I was into it. Sure, the horseshoes were a little kitschy, but between the wood paneling and the local Seattle Sodas in the fountain machine, this place had an identity.
I opted for the Bullseye – a little on the nose, but I digress – a one-third-pound patty topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, an onion ring, red cabbage slaw, and BBQ sauce. I had them remove the Wally Sauce, because of my well-documented hatred of mayo. Sidebar, I found the sign on the wall that described the makeup of their sauces to be helpful, but also gross – who knew Ranch was just mayo, sour cream, and buttermilk? I’m shuddering.
They claim their burgers are cooked medium, but that’s not quite true. Mine was much closer to well done, but still juicy enough to enjoy. The BBQ sauce was sparse but assertive, in that while there wasn’t much actual sauce loosening up the burger, the BBQ sauce flavor was perhaps the defining characteristic of the burger itself. Sadly, that flavor was fairly ordinary and a bit too sweet to be compelling.
Now let’s talk about Onion Rings. There’s no denying it, they’re great on burgers. Take a second, though, and think about all the times you’ve eaten onion rings. (If you’ve never eaten an onion ring, what are you even doing? Stop reading and go eat several.) What happens when you eat onion rings? Inevitably, your chompers don’t chomp all the way down, and that fat onion comes slipping out of it’s fried casing for one, big, oniony bite. When they brought out this burger, there was one, single onion ring on the base. Aesthetically, it was lovely. Structurally sound. Then halfway through the burger, that thick onion came slurping out, and now there’s no more onion on a burger that needed some onion. Folks, two or three small onion rings will always be better than one big onion ring because if you get one ring in a single bite, there’s still more onion on the table. You’re better than this.
Sometimes when gross people evaluate food, they use the word “mouthfeel”. I’d like to enter a new word into the lexicon – Handfeel. As in, the handfeel on this bun was awful. When I picked up the burger, I just knew the bun was going to be brittle and difficult. It tasted fine, but it disintegrated with the determination of a cloud of cotton candy. Doing further damage to the bun was the red cabbage slaw. It tasted like nothing, but was wet enough to render the bottom bun completely useless. It flapped down pathetically, not even halfway through the burger.
This is a fairly negative review, but it’s not all bad. The taste of the burger patty was solid, if fairly uninspiring, and the fries were pleasantly soft and well-salted, with a full-bodied, potato-y backbone. It was on the pricey side, but this is Seattle and I’ve grown numb to paying too much for things here.
Seattle on the whole has distinctly average burgers and Wallyburger is yet another average entry, but it’s far from the worst I’ve had here (seriously, don’t go to Blue Moon). If anything, it gets points for being conveniently located down the block from my favorite poetry store (brb updating my bio to sound more literary).
As always, chat it up in the comments – tell me why I’m wrong, or give me some new burger suggestions from the last four years of your life. Maybe next time, it won’t take me so long to get back to you.
Burger Flavor: 3/5