Willamette Burger Company


WBC is now closed

Fresh ground beef patties, buns baked daily, warm friendly service at a familiar location. Do I need to say anymore? OK, I will. Willamette Burger Co., on  Broadway St. makes some outstanding high quality burgers for a reasonable price. On this visit, I ordered the Border Burger and fries for $9. This sandwich was topped with pico de gallo and Monterrey jack cheese from a local cheese maker. Biting through that juicy patty reminded me of what a hamburger is supposed to taste like. The hand cut twice fried  French fries accompanied this entree beautifully. I've heard this place described as gourmet burgers, but I'm not sure if that's how I would describe it. It's not like they're bringing it out on a silver platter and you need to dress up to go in. But it's way better then the fast food chains. I've always liked that location too, because you are close to the kitchen and you always feel like you are getting good value for your money. The dining room is simple, small and cozy. It'll remind you of the days when it was Willamette Noodle Co. which were good memories. The menu has a list of burgers but you can custom order one however you like. I couldn't decide whether I wanted the home made tater tots or the fries so I ordered both. The fries were crunchy and hot, so were the tots. It was way more food then I could eat. So, I wrapped the tots in foil and ate them on the side of a sandwich a couple of days later. This place is one of several major improvements in dining options in Salem over the last couple of years. It's the perfect option for my family because it's a place we can all agree on going. Options beyond burgers include several choices of chicken sandwiches and a chicken Caesar salad. Next time I'm planning on saving some room for an ice cream sandwich for dessert. We'll be back soon.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

My biggest issue with WBC is they do not list their beef sources anywhere, yet tout the fact that their meat is supposedly fresh/local. On my visit, I asked the waitress where the beef came from, and was greeted with a wary huff and a sigh, and then she shouted to ask the cook, who replied, "Somewhere in Mt. Angel." At a time when great local restaurants (see most of Portland, La Capital, Silver Grille)are touting their farm partnerships, this seems like a lost opportunity. And the service was horrible all around. The food was good (not great), but localvores want to know where their food comes from.

Amber said...

I have to agree with Anonymous. Our service wasn't good either (we had to get our own menus and our own silverware 5 minutes after our food arrived). We thought the burgers were good, but agreed that La Capitale's were better for about the same price, plus the waitress could tell us where the beef was from (local, grass-fed). We'll probably give them another try, hoping they have time to work out the kinks.

mary m. said...

I was a bit turned off that I was charged a dollar to substitute cheddar for havarti. (they did not have swiss for the mushroom burger, and I don't like havarti-which seems to be on the majority of burgers) The tots were okay, but there was no ranch available, just some aoli which didn't really work for dipping. Don't know if I'll be back, didn't do much for me. Seemed overpriced for what you get.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the service runs true to the owner's other operation. My wife and I will not go back to WNC due to the incredibly bad service. It sounds like there is no need to go to WBC either. I guess some things never change!

Willamette Noodle said...

First of all, let me apologize to anyone that was greeted with any sort of "huff" or not provided menus and flatware. Clearly that is NOT our intention and I believe that the server that was guilty of those actions has been relieved of her position with us.

Secondly, our beef is freshly ground every day, and purchased directly from Mount Angel Meat Company. We are not guaranteeing grass-fed due to the available supply, but they are locally raised and hormone-free.

Amber - I am VERY sorry that your server fell short. Pretty sure we have addressed that issue.

Mary M. - you should NOT have been charged to substitute Cheddar for Havarti... we do have to charge for things that INCREASE costs (some of our cheeses are more expensive since they are locally produced in small batches, so subbing goat cheese for cheddar may be a small charge). If you email me directly I will make it right. Also, since you don't mention when you were in, we have added a house-made ranch to our menu in response to overwhelming customer demand, so perhaps you were in prior to that change.

2nd Anonymous - If you had a bad experience at EITHER of our restaurants I hope you would let us know so we can have the opportunity to correct the problem. We have employees and occassionally they do not behave in the same manner we would as owners. Our mission is to make sure every customer has an excellent experience every time. It is a goal I would like to think we are close to achieving as often as possible.

I'm reasonably sure that other local restaurant owners would agree with me that unless you let us know there was an issue, we cannot fix it for you. Most of us pour our hearts and souls into our businesses, and we rely on positive experiences and word of mouth to drive our success. I invite anyone to email me at Janet@WillametteNoodle.com and I will personally address your concerns. We are in business to provide a living for our family and the families of our employees, so we do have to make some decisions based on economics... with that being said, we do not want to lose customers based on one anonymous person's account.

Amber said...

First, thank you Janet for addressing the concerns. I appreciate the respectful nature of your reply, although I am sure it was hard to read the critiques.

We fully support local businesses and were very excited to see WBC opening. The young man who was our server did seem quite distracted the night we went in. We've always had great service at WNC and were surprised at the inconsistency. As I said in my previous post, we'll certainly give WBC another try. Everyone has off nights and I imagine opening a new restaurant is quite challenging. Good luck and look forward to trying WBC again soon.

Anonymous said...

i havent been to the wbc yet but I do plan on it. I really really enjoy the WNC I just wish there was more tables I love the food and works and new location is great but just still not enough room.

Anonymous said...

I was highly disappointed in my WBC experience. I recently went and although the waitress was ok, the prices were not for the amount of food you receive. Being from Wisconsin, I have grown up on a good burger. I have tried many of the classic burger places in town (La Capital, Burger Basket, McMenamins, and even The Ram). The burger I received at Willamette Burger Company was incredibly small. Heaven forbid you have tried a dollar menu burger at any of the fast food places in town, but if you have you would have walked away with more food than I received that day. I ordered the basic burger with no tomato and received a burger that was literally the size of a meatball. It was not seasoned and of course had a tomato on it. The meat seemed to be quality but it was hard to tell given the amount. My company all had the same experience. We actually laughed out loud about how small the burgers were. To add to it, there are no fries included. You must purchase them seperate. It felt like we were nickeled and dimed. My burger alone was almost $10 and when you add the tip you'd be better off going for a steak than pay that price for a tiny burger, no fries. When I walk away with over $10 bill (including tip) I expect to be well fed. We are talking about a burger and fries here, not steak and lobster.
I was disappointed. I love WNC and had high expectations for WBC. I will not go back nor would I recommend it to anyone either.

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is best onion rings I have ever had and worst chili I have ever had. I think they have great ideas they just need to do some tweaking.

Anonymous said...

Went to WBC with high expectations but....were disappointed. Paid over ten dollars for a double burger which was dry, small and included mediocre quality ingrediants which were not well prepared. Add to this eight dollars for a small glass of wine in an cafe-type atmosphere and service which was annoying and intrusive but failed to deliver eating impliments until after we had our food and you'll appreciate that we will not attend this place again....

Janet said...

Hello folks - back again, to help clarify a few things... Our burgers are all 6 oz. prior to cooking (they do weigh a bit less after cooking). They may appear to be "small" because we don't pound them out flat to be less than 1/2 inch thick like many other places do. This can create the illusion of a smaller size.

As for the dryness - if you request a burger well done, you can expect it to be drier than it would be if it was cooked less... if it was not cooked to your request (either pink or no pink) then I would expect you to advise your server and give us the opportunity to correct the problem. As I mentioned before, if you don't advise us that you aren't happy we can't take steps to fix it. We do NOT add any extra ingredients (such as milk-soaked breadcrumbs) which are common industry techniques in order to provide a juicy burger no matter what the cooking temperature. This is a judgment call - however we know enough of our customers may have dairy or gluten sensitivities. Besides - it's not beef, so it doesn't belong in our burgers.

Thanks for the kudos on the onion rings! Sorry you didn't care for the chili - it's a great recipe but I think we are working out some kinks in terms of how much to shred the beef... since we have no beans in it we recognize it may not be to everyone's liking - but that's our choice.

Again, I will apologize to any one that didn't receive great service... we are working with each of our employees to ensure that they KNOW what our expectations are - and if they are not meeting them then we will find people that will.

Anonymous said...

WELL! Anyone at thinks the double bypass is small needs an eye exam and a reality check. I have eaten at many burger places where my tab is much higher and the meat be it large in diameter cleary was not weight wise he same and I DO have to pay for fries. I also LOVE the option of not paying for the fries if I want something different. I am ecstatic the Salem is blessed with a restaurant that so committed to quality ingredients. I feel if you have had a poor experience in the past to visit ANY chain restaurant and REALLY look at the quality you are receiving

Anonymous said...

Hi Janet, thanks for responding. I posted the first comment at the top regarding beef source and service issues, and sounds like you addressed it thoroughly (BTW, I thought the burger was plenty big, not a complaint of mine!) I am glad to know that all the beef is local and hormone-free, and would encourage you to use that to market your restaurant. I will plan to go back and try WBC again.

Anonymous said...

Janet- You rock! Way to go on the personal touch of addressing your customer's concerns. I am coming to Willamette Burger today for my first visit. And I know it will nothing short of amazing. MB Doug's Other BFF

Chuck Bradley said...

If it's OK to mention another review site, I'd like to say that WBC just got a positive review from another Prime Contributor on Urbanspoon!

Anonymous said...

I think that was the BEST burger EVER!!! It beats the heck out of McMenamins, Ram or Red Robin Burgers. The service was fine when we were there, and the food is why I am there anyway, and it ROCKS!!! I will be back soon.... Lori

Anonymous said...

The Saturday before Christmas my husband and I braved downtown to finish our gift shopping. I said the only way I would go through with it was if we stopped for beer and food to keep my spirits up. i'm thrilled that we passed WBC on our way to shop in Keizer... such a good experience! Glad we finally made it in.

The staff were really friendly and for the most part really knowledgeable too. We both ordered a nice local, seasonal beer on tap and a basket of tots to share while waiting for our lunch. I dont even really like tater tots, but these were SO tasty! Crunchy on the ouside, creamy in the middle, homemade and delicious! Our server asked which of the dipping sauces we wanted for our tots -- after hearing the tempting options, I asked how many we could have. She said as many as we liked. We ordered garlic aioli, horseradish and blue cheese. She failed to mention, however, that after the first sauce we would be charged for each one. I thought that was kind of lame, but they were only $.50.

My husband ordered the mushroom burger which listed seasonal wild mushrooms -- ask your server. But our server said they only ever use white button. Regardless, he loved the burger and the Willamette Valley cheese melted on it as well.

The burger I ordered was superb as well! A grilled chicken breast with melted WV havarti, garlic aioli and piled high with real bacon that was just the right amount of juicy and crispy. Soooo yummy. My burger was so tall that I never even noticed the toothpick holding it together, which made contact with my chin during a bite. My fault :) Their homemade buns are strong enough not to dissolve under a juicy burger, but also a little bit flakey and sweet. Probably the best homemade burger bun I've ever eaten.