• Oregon Live
  • Cheap Eats: C Burger
  • Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011, 6:55 PM
  • By Special to The Oregonian

Located in Old Town, conveniently close to Voodoo Doughnut and the 24-Hour Church of Elvis, C Burger is a hole in the wall -- not because it's a nasty speck of a place. It is literally a hole in the wall: a rectangular hole, to be precise, made by enterprising people at Couture Ultra Lounge who simply opened the back door to their kitchen and shoved a makeshift counter where the door used to be, leaving a hole just big enough for you to place your take-out order.

The chow: Your options are limited to five burgers, three drinks and two sides, with the best being the chix (restaurant-speak for chicken) burger ($8). It's a perfectly cooked chicken breast served with a generous spoonful of bright tomato jam, thick slices of meaty applewood bacon, a dollop of creamy aioli and two cheeses: Fourme d'Ambert, a French blue mild enough for people who find other blues too sharp, and fontina, a gently nutty cheese known for how beautifully it melts. The wan English muffin cradling it -- and all the burgers -- adds little taste or texture, but the interior of the sandwich is a hearty, satisfying balance of sweet and meaty, creamy and tart, proving the adage the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Real deals: The generous sides ($2 each) are worth your pocket change. The house-cut fries are that wonderful combination of crisp and comfort with their soft interior and crunchy exterior coated with just enough oil to anchor the salt. And the onion rings are fried with a mild buttermilk batter that allows the sweet Walla Walla onions to shine through.

What's half-baked? For everyday consumption, the classic burger ($8), with its slab of Canadian bacon, fried egg, American cheese and hollandaise, is far too drippy and greasy. But, when you need something to sop up that one too many beers you optimistically indulged in, it might hit the spot.

Inside tips: Bring along your non-meat-eating friends because the veggie C-less burger ($8), topped with crispy shallots and served with more sweet tomato jam, is satisfying in a way that meat burgers generally are and veggie burgers generally are not.

Hangout factor: The seating fit us perfectly, the entertainment matched our tastes and the ambience was ideal. Of course, that might be because we took our meal home. Your results may vary.

Liquids: Coke ($2/can), Diet Coke ($2/can) and Crystal Geyser spring water ($2/bottle) make up the entire liquid menu.

The numbers: Northwest Couch, between Third and Fourth; 503-206-8866; cburgerpdx.com; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Wednesday-Friday, 7 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday.

Willamette Week

Burger Love
Everywhere you turn, it’s burger time in Portland.
C Burger

28 NW 4th Ave., 206-8866, cburgerpdx.com.

A burger you can order at 2:30 am does not need to be this tasty. It should be vaguely burger-shaped and easily acquired, absorbent and not too pricey. It doesn’t need to be made of coarsely ground, hand-patted Cascade Natural Beef, nor does it need to come with Applewood bacon, fontina, aioli, shallots and homemade pickles. These adornments are wasted on drunk people. Please, no one ever tell the folks at C Burger how much less they could get away with. Especially do not mention the onion rings ($4), which are about 6,000 times better than any other late-night onion rings in town. They’re thick and buttermilk-battered and huge enough to crawl into, should you lack other options at closing time. Best of all, C Burger means you can have those onion rings and a Couture Burger ($8) without ever slithering into the Couture Ultra Lounge. Just visit the window at the back of the nightclub’s kitchen, facing Couch Street. The Couch Street Burger ($5) is the basic option, a knockout even dead sober. Four other choices include grilled chicken and a veggie burger, plus specials like a turkey burger with Brie and pesto (all $8). Call ahead to avoid a wait.

Pro: Spicy ranch sauce for the onion rings: yes.
Con: Burly appetites might find the burgers a little petite; they’re rich, but they do fit on an English muffin.