Willamette Burger Company

WBC is now closed

Lately it seems that all my best restaurant meals come along when I intend to eat elsewhere but get sidetracked for one reason or another. This time I was headed for Christos with quattro formaggi on my mind, forgetting that Christos doesn't have lunch service on Saturdays. We aimlessly drove north, considering hitting Paddingtons again, but decided instead to give Willamette Burger Company a try. It took a bit of rearranging to fit two adults and three children around a table, but I squeezed my four year old into a highchair and we made do. And boy was it worth it.

 The service was quick and friendly, and our waiter was happy to answer questions about the beer selection. I ordered the Blue Cheese Bacon Burger, my friend chose the BBQ Burger, my son went with the WBC classic, and my two girls each got the grilled cheese kids' basket.  The portions were very generous, even the items  ordered from the kids' menu, which says that meals are served with “a handful of fries.” All of the food was hot, incredibly fresh and delicious, and without hesitation I will say that WBC has the best burger I've ever eaten, a statement I don't make lightly. The buns, which are baked in-house, were especially impressive. They were soft and chewy, and tasty enough to stand alone. A smaller version would make the perfect dinner roll. The beef was also outstanding, and my waiter proudly explained that their beef is ground fresh daily at Mt. Angel Meat Company. The twice-cooked french fries were also delicious and well seasoned, though I must have gotten the last of the batch, because everyone else in our party had heaps of long, crispy tender fries, but my basket had a lot of  “ends.”  We ordered a side of ranch dressing for dipping and it was some of the best I've had.

Because the portions are so large, I wish that I could have ordered the child sized burger and fries for my son, who stood no chance of finishing the enormous amount of food he was given, but the menu states that the kid friendly choices are for ages 10 and under. It doesn't make sense to me when restaurants put an age limit on children's menus. It seems arbitrary, and if your older child  doesn't yet have an adult appetite, it's inconvenient to waste money and food with large portions.

The paper covered tables and cups of crayons kept the kids happy and busy before the meal, and watching several people (including my dining partner) walk into a broom closet, hoping for the restroom, provided some entertainment for the grownups too. We'll be heading back soon, and this time I'm going to try my best to save room for the ice-cream sandwich dessert.

2360 Fairgrounds Road NE, Salem OR 97301 503-399-9992
Seven Days a Week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

15 comments:

KandN said...

N and I second that thought about saving room for their ice cream sandwich during a future trip!

Melina Tomson, MS said...

I haven't been here yet, but have heard nothing but good things from friends. It's good to know they have grilled cheese since my son hates hamburgers (well meat in general). We hadn't gone there yet because I wasn't sure what he would be able to eat there.

Pemba said...

I agree! Their burgers are so flavorful and delicious! All of their ingredients are high quality and very tasty, and together, with their concoctions make them incredible!

I also like that they serve great local/regional beers on tap.

Anonymous said...

Wow, they've either done a 180 on virtually everything, or you work for them since I had a pretty bad experience when I went. Bland burger, small portion, expensive, the fries they bragged about were mediocre at best. I love the WNC but I could never see going back to their burger joint after the experience I had.

KandN said...

Anonymous, Maybe they're not your cup of tea or maybe you just had a bad experience. N and I find ourselves going there more and more often and haven't been disappointed yet.
While eating at the hospital yesterday, we overheard a nurse raving over WBC with the rest of her table. It was hard for us not to butt into their conversation when she couldn't give an accurate description of where the restaurant is situated. We passed their table as we left and told them where to go for more info.

B Kinch said...

I only WISH I worked there. Mmmmm, burgers!

Willamette Noodle said...

Thanks B Kinch - I'll post any new openings here on EatSalem - keep your eyes open! Burgers are an important part of our compensation package! :)

And thanks also to KandN! Glad you were there to help with directions.

Anonymous - I really think you must have had an isolated experience... We have improved on lots of things since opening - as we strive to do at both restaurants. Our focus is to always find ways to enhance our customers experience. I'm sorry you won't try the Burger again especially since you are fans of the Noodle. Either way we really appreciate open, direct and respectful feedback from our customers and are always willing to do what we can to make it right.

Again - thanks to everyone for making our first few months so much FUN!

Willamette Noodle said...

Ooops! I totally forgot to clarify one point in the review that was important:
The meat is GROUND here (at the Noodle in our prep kitchen) NOT at Mount Angel Meat Company (which is the meat processing company where we buy our primal cuts). You can rest assured that are not buying ground beef from some one else (since we don't have control over their processes).

Anonymous said...

Love the tots! After having the homemade tots at WBC I am ruined for life! :) I appreciate that they make their own burgers, buns, tots and fries, its nice to know that there is a burger place that's low key with good ingredients and there is always good beer. And for the record- no, i don't work there.

B Kinch said...

Thanks for the clarification!

Anonymous said...

I have heard SO many good things about WBC that my wife and I had to come in and try it. We thought it would be a great place to take our kids ages 3 and 6. When we walked in the guy behind the counter LITERALLY rolled his eyes when he saw us (don't know if it was the kids or his fatigue) and whispered something to his co-worker. Not letting that bother us to much we promptly ordered drinks and our app. We got the onion rings with fry sauce and both were above average! The breading was a real treat on the onion rings, light and crispy. The one problem was the salt, way to much for my taste! Our burgers came shortly after, I got the Old McDonald with my egg done overeasy. I admired the size and heartyness of the burger, as well as the tasty looking bun. Then I bit in, first thing I tasted was SALT.. I also noted that my egg was as hard as a hard boiled egg. I thought the saltyness was just because of the cheese, bacon and egg.. So I took another bite and downed my water. The more I ate it the more I felt like there was a salt lick in my burger. I did not say anything right away to my wife because I wanted all of us to enjoy our meal and family time. She finally set her burger down and said that she could not eat it because it was so salty. I WHOLE heartedly agreed and tried just the meat in both burgers and found that it was the beef that was producing the saltyness. We tried to get our servers attention and finally got it after the guy working bussed our app basket and sent her over. I let her know that the cook oversalted our burgers and her reply was-- "The burgers are pre-seasoned, he has no control over that. We have been very busy with the Bite and Brew and maybe someone was in a hurry when they seasoned it and over measured the salt" No sorry or anything! She walked away without even offering to fill our waters! We asked for our check the next time she walked by us (to another table, still no water for us) and went on our way. With the negatives of the meat and service I have to say the bun, fries and aioli were fantastic! I keep hearing from friends that it was an isolated incident and that we need to go back. If we do go back we will promptly leave if the servers that were working that night are there. Salem NEEDS the WBC to be a great place for a burger, with great owners and a local feel it has all the potential to stay a hit!

Willamette Burger Company said...

Anonymous - First off, I'm so sorry that your experience wasn't a hundred percent enjoyable - I never want a guest to leave unhappy and it breaks my heart every time I hear when one does.
Could you give me some more information about the date/time you were in? The conduct of your server is NOT on par with our standards for our employees and would like to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Furthermore, it would help so that we can pinpoint which batch of meat was oversalted. You can email me, anytime at sarah@willametteburger.com.
Thank you in advance for any further information you can provide me. And thank for you for the kudos on our fries and aioli!

Sarah C.

Anonymous said...

Sarah C,

The above (8/16) post sounds suspiciously familiar. I know you strive to please everyone, but there is the (mercifully rare) patron you're better off without.

Willamette Burger Company said...

2nd Anonymous - Very true. Unforunately, in this fantastic small town that we live in, it's hard to maintain that sort of an attitude without it coming back and biting us. We choose to err on the 'safe' side.

Sarah C.

Jamie said...

I just couldn't stand the idea of fast food again so when my husband suggested yet another incarnation of assembly line burgers "for convenience "sake I told him to meet me at W.B.C.. Had only eaten there once. Loved the garlic aioli on the burger.crunchy lettuce, tomato(when they actually tasted like tomato). The fries.oooh, I am not a fry gal unless.....they are done correctly. These fries are wonderful.They are perfectly salted,crisp,not too fat, and actually taste like potatoes. The server was new, but very competent. The wait time was minimal(despite the fact that I was starving). I waited on people and prepared food for them all day long and I have to say it was such a treat to have a great experience eating out and having someone else cater to me. I can't help but critique everything when I end up eating out. It's really kind of an inevitable negative when you're in the biz. Good job! thank you for a really good experience.