Even Portland is not immune to the insidious dissolution of the social fabric caused by digital misinformation. As part of its Burger Madness hype, Willamette Week over-reached with the following claim on March 18: “And for now, it [Gastromania’s burger] may be the only foie gras burger in town: St. Jack’s formerly foie’d burger now comes with bacon.”
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Team Mago was so distressed by this pronouncement of doom that we decamped as soon as we could to St. Jack in order to chase down the ugly rumor. There may have been alcohol involved, in fact there definitely was, because the very day we decided to fact check WW, we received an Instagram from St. Jack announcing the roll out of a beer collaboration between Chef Aaron Barnett, Gilgamesh Brewing, and Nicky Farms. The product, styled La Moule de L’Amour, is a red brett saison brewed with oyster shells (7.5% abv). Supposedly crafted to pair with seafood, La Moule de L’Amour choked just fine with a foie burger at St. Jack’s bar.
Yes, that is correct. WW greatly exaggerated the demise of Portland’s best liva butta burger. While it is no longer on the menu, a request to the mixologist was relayed through the kitchen and yielded an amazing hamburger that was, let’s be honest here, way too good for the field of 64 over at WW. And it’s kind of understandable. I love March Madness but I would be very pissed if someone let a professional team compete in the tournament.
St. Jack’s foie burger was served with true panache (along with gruyere, St. Jack sauce dijon, and caramelized onions). Indeed, it appeared from the pass accented with a serrated exclamation point that Team Mago felt was metaphoircal chefy trash talk aimed at Gabriel Rucker. Both the foie and the meat were perfectly cooked and, although this was no dainty portioned slider masquerading as a burger, it was easy to post up on from the very first bite.
Mago Tip: use that knife to cut the dang thang in half or you are going to hang onto it for dear life throughout the entire ingestion experience and look very selfish, unless you too are blessed with a dining partner who is most “unfortunately” missing the foie and truffle gene.
Back to that killer farmhouse mussel of love (in Montucky we have zebra mussels, the love variety are far less invasive and much tastier). This nectar is evidently only around through April (or until they sell out), and all sales support The Portland Kitchen, which (quoting from Nicky Farms website) “sets the table for successful futures by using food and cooking to empower underserved teens to create healthy lifestyles, prepare for meaningful employment, and become engaged citizens in our community.” It is also on tap at La Moule (and even WW thinks the little sister’s burger is worthy of its bistro bracket).
I am having too much fun to dust off that copy of David Hume from my undergraduate days, but inductive reasoning leads one to assert that the absence of St. Jack’s burger from WW’s Burger Madness seems to have rubbed Chef Barnett in a creative way. He recently announced the launch of Le Hamburger Nouveau, which is a major reset on the basic St. Jack bar burger involving thick cut bacon, cheddar and american cheese, iceberg lettuce, red onion, and St. Jack sauce 2.0. Gastronomic causality triumphs over fake news once again and Team Mago is willing to bet a love mussel or two that you can get that new burger with foie gras for the asking ( and of course the paying).
Domina plumped for the fried chicken sandwich with sauce grenoblois, iceberg lettuce, and bespoke pickleage. Team Mago was around for the prototype of this dish at a pop-up food cart at Lardo’s about a year ago. The current incarnation is an ode to gastro-incremtalism. The crispy/juicy chicken breast is enhanced by further crunchitude courtesy of the lettuce and amazing richness from the sauce, while the pickles add a bracing spike of acidity.
Mago Tip: Domina ordered her sauce grenoblois on the side, preferring to customize her condiment consumption. This led to the discovery that sauce grenoblois makes a great dip for pommes frites and a great pairing with the aioli that normally accompanies the fries. While Patti deserves full credit for this discovery, I’m just sayin’ (Glutton Alert!!) that one might well be tempted to request a little extra sauce grenolblois when ordering the fried chicken sandwich rather than dilute it viz. one’s bird.
Despite foundering on foie, sucking down saison, and chomping on chicken, however, we did notice a few tweaks for the better at St. Jack. Chef Jacob Garth posted up all night at the pass, which made the parade of dishes from the kitchen far more orderly and punctual than on our last visit, and the fries were back to their Platonic ideal.