January 20, 2012

Elevation Burger, South Portland

Elevation Burger, in South Portland, is the newest location of the made-to-order, organic, grass-fed beef burger national chain.  I was treated to dinner and chatted with the franchise owners on Monday night and left feeling good about what was going on both inside and outside of my stomach.

Elevation Burger is part of the new fast-food trend, where your burgers are cooked to order and the quality of the ingredients is touted at every turn. I even spied a Michael Pollan quote on my milkshake cup backing the "grass is greener" theory behind E.Burg's (can I call you that?) grass-fed beef.

However, out of a desire to respect our wallets, apparently, E.Burg also provides the freestyle Coca-Cola machine, with over 100 soda flavors and does not boast organic ingredients across the board.

So, the food. A rather simple menu (until you get into toppings) presents beef burgers, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, and combinations of the two. You can also go vertigo and order up to 10 patties on one burger.

The toppings are all free and include standard lettuce, tomato, onion, but also balsamic mustard, blue cheese dressing (which does cost extra), and Elevation sauce, which is thin, tangy, and tomato-based.

Comparisons to 5 Guys are inevitable.
I ordered my burger 'Oiriginal,' with cheese, which is lettuce, tomato, and Elevation sauce. I figure if that's how the man started, I should check out their Platonic ideal of an Elevation burger.

And I am not one to pretend to know how to distinguish between different kinds of ground beef. The burgers tasted beefy to me and didn't have the crap cooked out of them. I was pleasantly surprised to see bits of pink throughout my burger patty.

The cheddar cheese is a nice taste variation from American (although I do think that on a cheeseburger is one of the only places a Kraft single belongs). And while these pictures don't really show, the burgers are two pattied. 

The fries are fried in olive oil, which after a while, adds up to a pretty rich, distinctive flavor. Coupled with the size of the orders, I didn't come close to finishing my fries, but wasn't overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them either (ahem, 5 Guys).

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the interior of E.Burg is built using energy-efficient lighting and sustainable building materials.  It's also aesthetically pleasing, which always feels nice to eat in.

E.Burg might open themselves to a bit more criticism than the run-of-the-mill fast-food chain, as attempts at moral standards in dining always invites scrutiny.  But if you stop to think about all the waste, both at the restaurant and in the production, generated by chain restaurants, there's no defense of eating at most, regardless of how good/cheap their burgers are.

But Elevation Burger makes good burgers that you can feel good about eating. While I certainly housed a lot of food (probably 1,000 cals. worth- thanks a lot, calorie counts), I didn't come away feeling bad, sad, or greasy.

In fact, I'm already thinking about the next time I can get my Elevation on.