Today's reader recommendation comes from Denise Sakaki (aka wasabiprime on AHT/Serious Eats), who has previously shared three burger reviews with us and writes about farmers' markets on Serious Eats. Denise, a freelance graphic designer, blogs about food at Wasabi Prime and you can follow her on Twitter @wasabiprime. Thanks, Denise! If anyone else wants to share some burger intel, here's how to do it. —The Mgmt.
John Howie Steak
11111 Northeast 8th Street, Ste. 125, Bellevue WA 98004 (map); 425-440-0880; johnhowiesteak.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: An amazing burger that combines grilled cheese sandwiches with fried bacon and onion rings, yet keeps the flavors distinct and cohesive
Want Fries With That? Fries come with the burger, and best enjoyed hot and crisp, but opt for homemade chips for something less heavy
Notes: Bring a friend and split the burger. After work/happy hour is packed, but Sunday nights are mellow.
It seems like everyone's trying to one-up each other with crazy hamburgers that look like something out of a mad scientist's lair, making for a trend that pushes the boundaries of edible excess. The Triple Bypass Burger from John Howie Steak is no exception: It's made with a 3/4-pound grilled patty of ground prime chuck, two kinds of melted cheese (Swiss and cheddar), bacon fried in a tempura batter, onion rings, a house-made take on drive-in sauce, and it's all layered between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
I shook my head when I saw this beast appear before me. I know what you're thinking (or shouting out loud): "This is what's wrong with this country!" I would normally say the same thing, but I gotta admit, it's a pretty amazing hamburger. There's no way you're going to eat a whole one, so just bring a friend or two, don't schedule any cholesterol tests in the near future, and carve up one of these bad boys with a knife and fork.
It's amazing that despite all the different layers of ingredients, you don't lose sight of the flavors. You taste the rich smokiness of the beef. My burger was cooked medium with a bit of pink in the middle, and every bite was juicy. The tempura fried bacon and onion is over the top, but the batter is light and thin, not doughy. You taste the sweetness of the onion and peppery bite of the bacon. The cheese isn't piled on, avoiding a gooey mess. The sauce is tangy and sweet, so that helps cut into the richness and help further define flavors.
As for the double grilled cheese top and bottom, they're made with thinly sliced pieces of bread, making each sandwich about the thickness of a hefty split Kaiser roll. While it's still a bready beast, you're not just getting a giant mouthful of grilled cheese sandwich.
Granted, it's not a dollar menu special—$16 is a lot to spend on a hamburger—but considering the size, it's worth it as a meal that needs to be split. It comes with fries, but I recommend swapping with their house-made chips as they're not as heavy. It seems odd to enjoy a hamburger at a nice steak restaurant, but John Howie Steak knows its beef very well, and their Triple Bypass Burger is just a way of them saying while they take their ingredients seriously, they have a wicked sense of humor. —wasabiprime
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