Saturday, September 15, 2012

Burgers, Beers, Punctuation Fears

Cattie said what all of us we're thinking when the waiter left the plate, "It's four barnacles." The surely looked that way, inch-wide onion rings from the fullest diameter of heft onions, leaving me wondering what might happen to piles of abundant onion innards. The panko crust gave them a definite crunch, and it stuck: you didn't have that awkward onion ring moment when the veggie slips free of its fried sheath, leaving you with a breaded straw and hot greasy onion down your chin. The spicy ranch, hard to get at since the rings were wider than the container holding the dressing, not only packed a peppery kick but also seemed a bit sour, hinting at buttermilk, perhaps. Overall the rings were fine, but they were four, and were $4.50.

Suffice to say, Eureka! Burger, despite its excited love for exclamation points (see the menu), didn't leave me running naked down the streets of Santa Barbara shouting about the thrill of discovery. (Here's hoping you know your Archimedes, or now I sound odder than I even am.) Eureka! Burger is a place that whelmed, particularly for the price.

What they definitely do best is put tasty craft beer on tap. But even then, beware, as they have a policy to give you less of a beer as its alcohol level goes up;* my 6 ounces of Firestone Double Double Barrel Ale--served as it was in Billy Barty's brandy snifter--certainly was a treat, but for $7, the treat was on me. And the swarming staff--we had a a waiter who took our order and checked in, but then every time something came to the table, a different person brought it--isn't quite up to speed with the definitely wide-ranging beer list, which I always find disappointing. The guy who dropped off that Double DBA said, "Well, it's really strong, it's 14%," when it's really only 12% (I know, I know, why quibble over 10%--it's going to weaken your knees no matter). Later when I asked our server whether the Cismontane Black Dawn, listed under porters & stouts, was a porter or a stout, he said he'd have to ask. I ordered it anyway and really liked the coffee-kicking stout, and later found out the name is actually Blacks Dawn, after the beach. Guess you can sweep some precision under the rug with a few exclamation points.

As for the rest of the food, my Pearl Street Blues burger was ok, a bit less medium rare than I like and asked for, a bit undistinguished--not even the blue seemed zippy enough, and the same was true for the chipotle ketchup, which isn't easy to do, I imagine. Chryss's shrimp po' boy came on ciabatta, and therefore someone had a miraine for no reason in New Orleans. Flavor wasn't that bad, she reported. Cattie's veggie pattie got one of the biggest thumb's up for the evening, something a bit unusual by answering the question "where's the beet?" plus you could order it sans bun, too. (The burger menu is nothing if not adaptable to all sorts of eaters.) The thin and short fries were literally a mixed lot-- some seemed cooked crisp, others were colder and mushier.

Sure, I'll probably go back as that beer list is a temptress I have no resistance for. And maybe the staff will learn as it works, assuming they keep that fully staffed. As for the food, there's more to try, so they've got that going for them. Although I have to admit upfront a starter called Osso Buco Riblets terrifies me in the way deep-fried butter at the county fair does.

*I know numerous other places do this too, but are usually more upfront about it.

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