What Price O Tasty Beef?

Got together with some friends this weekend at Amnesia on Mississippi prior to hitting the Clinton St. Theater for some 3-D action (about which all I have to say is, “Ow, my eyes!”), and while I partook of a tasty burger there, a bit of a bad taste was left in my mouth at the price of said beefiness, as eight bucks for some meat and chips (not even fries, people, but chips!) seems to be a bit steep.

I don’t mind paying a bit more for service or even for atmosphere on occasion, but I gotta say that a five-buck burger plate seems a bit more reasonable to me considering the venue and such, even if it is in the middle of North Portland’s newest hipsterville.

Just as comparisons to other pub-type grub (in price if not flavor, as I’ve not been to all these places and leaving out the cheaper fast food varieties), Stanich’s apparently will get you the World’s Greatest Hamburger and some greasy fries for six bucks or so. A burger at any of the McMenamins can be had (and with tots!) for anywhere between five and seven dollars. The Red Coach downtown gets you burger/fries/soda for what Amnesia charges for their burger-n-chips plate.

Even on Mississippi itself, the Lovely Hula Hands burger with fries or salad is the same price, but there you don’t have to order the thing yourself. And just a hop over on N. Williams, the supercool Fifth Quadrant has an eight-buck burger and fries as well — they even offer smoked gouda as a cheese choice — which reminds me that I need to go back there soon.

I’m not trying to come down on Amnesia at all, as nobody forced me to buy the thing and I know people who swear it’s the best burger in town. I’m just saying it’s a wee bit overpriced for what you get. And that I’d be much more inclined to eat it more often if it was five or six bucks instead of eight, which in the long run would be better for the business, no? Especially since I’m sure most of the dinero made there has to do with the beer and not the grub, so how about giving us teetotalers a break, eh? I promise I’ll make my friends drink more to make up for it and get them home safely so they’ll live to drink another day.

29 Comments so far

  1. divebarwife (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

    If I’m not mistaken – Amnesia only uses free range organic beef – something that is on the pricier side of cow. It *might* even be buffalo, not beef…but I’m not sure about that.
    I agree it’s pricey – buy my guess is that’s why.

  2. jonashpdx (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

    good point, that. but even if that’s the case– and it could be, though I sure didn’t see it on the chalkboard menu that way — it’s still pricey. I mean, burgerville uses local grain-fed cows and they’re still selling 3-buck burgers. i know they’ve got a volume, but still. figure a pound of organic beef at new seasons costs 3.99 (if you don’t have a bulk seller discount there or elsewhere), you get 2+ burgers out of it, that’s a pretty nice profit margin of $12/pound — or maybe 10 once you add chips and buns to the plate.

  3. george (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

    what makes me upset with amnesia is the downgrade in the bun quality. they now stick some franz on there…

    BUT you gotta factor in that you are looking at a 1/2 lb. burger of top of the line beef. so yea, well, not the best deal in town, but not the worst.

    lovely hula hands does indeed have a GREAT burger. but i gotta say the Fifth Quadrant for the most part has crappy food. although i like their fries. and it is far from cool- so far from cool that is a bit of fresh air in the hood.

  4. jonashpdx (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 3:38 pm

    that’s it, so far from cool it’s cool! (though i don’t know how far from cool it is to begin with).

  5. RAH (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    Humdinger out on Barbur has stupendous burgers for cheap prices. They’ve been there forever. I have no idea what part of the cow it comes from (and frankly don’t care), but the burgers are great, the fries are stupendous and the milkshakes are to die for.

  6. dieselboi (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 5:54 pm

    Have you had a Stanich’s or a McMenamin’s burger lately? At Stanich’s, yeah, you get the piece of ham, the turkey, the egg, the fixens – all for the low price, but the burgers are the same size and thickness as what you get at McDonald’s. Same with Red Coach. Those may have started out in life as 1/4lb burgers, but by the time they are cooked….
    Also, there is a lot to say about local organic beef. There is a better taste, a better texture and overall, I bet you money is is healthier for you. So, while I agree that paying $8 for a burger is out of people’s range – expecially people who normally would eat fast food, you are getting something more in return. And to compare a restaurant price to what you could purchase at the store is not a valid comparison. They have costs too that they have to factor in.
    I’m just saying, I believe the Amnesia burger is much different than Stanich’s or McMenamin’s or Red Coach and shouldn’t be compared to such establishments. Compare it to Lovely Hula Hands or Higgins’ or Cafe Castagna, but not to those other restaurants.

  7. jonashpdx (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

    ah, dieselboi, i knew you wouldn’t be able to resist the affront to the neighborhood hangout! :) like i was hoping to point out, i was talking not just about the burger but the entire experience. but to compare what is basically a pub-style burger to a higher-class restaurant with service and the like is not nearly fair either, is it?

  8. dieselboi (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 6:42 pm

    You have a point about service, yet my point is about quality of product. I think the Amnesia Burger is a fair price for such good quality. That same burger would be $4 more in a nicer restaurant.

    And I’m not trying to defend Amnesia because it is in the neighborhood. I think they have a great burger. Castagna has a great burger (SE.) Higgins has a great burger (SW.) I’ll defend the burger, not the neighborhood first and foremost.

    Anytime you want to do a burger run, I’m game. Between Friday lunch and Sunday evening, that could be 6 different burgers from 6 different locations and then we’ll see who has the best burger.

  9. jonashpdx (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

    dieselboi, you’re on. we’ll do the burger tour of portland. I was just trying to say that for eight bucks, i want a little more than a burger on a bun– i want some choice of cheese, maybe some grilled onion, some choice into how it’s grilled, and maybe– just maybe — more than a paper towel to wipe my mouth on. I also think that nicer restaurants have a lot more overhead in terms of the burgers than Amnesia, which adds to the cost — it’s not like Amnesia has waitresses, or even a chef, really.

    and like i said in my original post, i’m not saying it’s not a tasty burger, it’s just that, to me, it’s not an EIGHT DOLLAR burger, and I either want more options or I’d like them to drop the price, ’cause I really wouldn’t mind eating it more often. I also think that the bottom line for them is about the beer, and at eight bucks a burger, they’re either asking you NOT to order it or they’re sometimes hoping you’ll be too hammered to notice and/or care about the price. ’cause really, how many people at the Amnesia are really overanalyzing the quality of the beef like we are?

  10. dieselboi (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

    See, we differ on what we want with our burger. When I am offered an $8 or $10 burger, it is about the burger, not about the fixin’s. I only use fixin’s if it is a less expensive burger. For me, I want to taste the beef, not lettuce or onion or tomato or mayo.
    Here’s the schedule:
    Friday Lunch: Higgins
    Friday Dinner: Cafe Castagna
    Saturday Lunch Stanich’s
    Saturday Dinner: Helvatia Tavern
    Sunday Lunch: Amnesia
    Sunday Dinner: Grillin’ at someone’s house

    Stanich’s and Helvatia are very similar, so we could sub in another joint. I’m almost thinking we should start on a Thursday to give us more choices. 8 burgers in 4 days? Wow, I’m drooling….

  11. jonashpdx (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

    okay, now you’re just scaring me. heart attack much, my friend?

  12. tODD (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 11:54 pm

    I’d recommend the Slow Bar’s burger, as well. Haven’t been there in several months, but dang, that thing was beautiful, along the lines of a Castagna burger.

  13. Blog Junkie (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 7:58 am

    “figure a pound of organic beef at new seasons costs 3.99”

    New Season’s ground beef is natural, but not organic. Organic ground beef costs closer to $8 a pound.

  14. dieselboi (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 8:46 am

    gah! Yep, the Slow Bar does have a tasty burger. Top notch. I just don’t get there enough. Oh, and the sliders at Pause are a good buy and yummy.

  15. Daaaaave (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 10:03 am

    Stanich’s burgers are the most overrated in town.

    Red Roach is fine if you’re down with Sysco meat and mediocrity.

    McMenamin’s just plain sucks. Service sucks too.

    Slow Bar has gone downhill after their best cook split.

    If you want with some craptastic bottom of the barrel burger with “all the fixin’s” and are going to whine about 8 frigging dollars, why don’t you just set up camp outside the home of the Whopper? Better yet, save up and splurge at Fuddruckers.

  16. jonashpdx (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 10:22 am

    thanks for the positivity, daaaaaave. do you happen to like ANY burger in town? i didn’t realize i was whining, i was just considering my options, but now that you’ve revealed to me the true awfulness of my thought process, i think i’ll just go cry in a corner now…

    oh, and by the way, i still think eight bucks is pricey for a pub burger, but thanks for trying so convincingly to get me to change my mind.

  17. george (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 10:56 am

    lovely hula hands and le pidegeon both have under $10 burgers that should be on that burger tour.

  18. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 11:37 am

    Blog Junkie said: “New Season’s ground beef is natural, but not organic.”

    Dare I ask what’s in NON-natural ground beef?

  19. extramsg (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 11:58 am

    The upper end burgers, especially with fries, are approaching the $12 realm now in Portland, so $8 is a bargain if it’s good, big, and using top quality beef. But just because it has good ingredients doesn’t mean it was made well.

  20. Daaaaave (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

    No problem. I make it a point to tell bloggers when they’re getting a bit whiny. Since rectum rot like Burger King and Carls Jr. are selling burgers at $4 and $5 respectively, I think you are suffering from Old Man Doesn’t Understand Inflation Syndrome (OMDUIS).

    If $8 for a “pub burger” is too high for you, hit up a different pub. Maybe, and I know this may be shockng to you, but maybe Amnesia is shooting at a higher target.

    As for burgers I like it town – Higgins, Le Pigeon, Cafe Castagna, Bluehour, Simpatica and Alberta Oyster all have pretty consistently outstanding burgers. LHH is okay. Will pick up a Mike’s Special occasionally as well.

  21. RM (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

    If you’re looking for value, try Happy Hour at McCormick & Schmicks – $1.95 half pound cheese burger & fries.

  22. Laura (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

    Burgerville makes their hamburgers with Oregon-raised organic beef, and they’re yummy with a slice of Tillamook cheddar cheese.

  23. jonashpdx (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    *gasp* laura, did you just mention a lowly fast-food joint burger that sells for less than 5 bucks in this discussion about the relative merits of hamburgers around town? heaven forbid!

    actually, i’m with you– most of the time when I want a burger, the colossal cheeseburger there hits the spot. anybody who doesn’t dig that can go ahead and lift their noses a little higher in the air.

    when i truly want quality beef, i go for a steak, not the ground-up goodness. burgers are for eating with sauce and bun and fries and shakes.

  24. atul (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

    I’m not too familiar with the burger options in the gentrified parts of Alberta-Mississippi, but here are a few from elsewhere around town.

    The Rogue pub at 14th & Everett has a tasty Kobe beef burger, although they know exactly how good it is and charge you accordingly.

    Carafe (on Market St. near the Keller fountain) has a great burger, and even if they didn’t, it’s worth it just for the fries. Mmmmm….

    And if you want an inexpensive fast food burger, Burgerville isn’t bad at all. It’s way better than it needs to be as a fast food joint, anyway.

    FWIW, I’ve also been told that Stars Cabaret out in Beaverton does a good burger, if you don’t mind rampant nudity with your meal…

  25. dieselboi (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

    Hold the sarcastic phone here sir. Eating at Amnesia and eating at Burgerville are two completely different experiences. Yeah, if I don’t have the time to sit and eat a meal and there is a Burgerville close (and I am in a car which is rarely) then I may go to Burgerville. But I am not going to Amnesia or any of the other places because I want a quick burger. I am going there for something entirely different – it is called ambiance and experience.
    Once again, broad generalizations and comparisons are a bit off the mark.

  26. Daaaaave (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

    Burgerville’s Bacon Cheeseburger is $4.29. Add the combo basket at another $2.50 and you’re topping out at $6.79. Getting dangerously close to the dreaded $8 mark.


    There’s also half as much hamburger as you’d get from most “pub burgers” as well.

  27. jonashpdx (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

    yeah, daaaaave, but with the combo basket, i’m getting fries and a drink, not just some kettle chips. but i’ll agree with dieselboi that there’s something to be said for ambiance.

  28. Mary Sue (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 5:02 pm

    Damnit, now I’m homesick for the Fifth Quadrant. Just thinking about that burger makes me hungry. They have a decent meatloaf, too, not as good as Sckavone’s, but pretty good.

    Actually, stick Sckavone’s on your Burger Tour, their burgers are pretty decent.

  29. Blog Junkie (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

    Laura–Burgerville ain’t organic, either. From their menu: “Fresh, 100% Country Natural Beef”

    Still good stuff. I think that’s what New Seasons sells, too.

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