#270: Bruchi’s CheeseSteaks & Subs

1:15PM | 1/22/2022

http://www.bruchis.com/

This is one of those businesses where I can’t quite figure out what they want to call themselves. The sign on the building is “Bruchi’s CheeseSteaks, Salads & Subs”. Google Maps shows “Bruchi’s CheeseSteaks & Salads”, and their website shows “Bruchi’s CheeseSteaks & Subs”. See Kelli’s Cookies for another example of this naming madness. Anyway, I stopped here yesterday for lunch. This is located in the blue-roofed shopping center on Douglas across from Target/Raley’s.

Bruchi’s is a smallish chain almost exclusive to Washington. This and the location in Sacramento seem to be about as far south as they have come so far. A location in Boise is the only other one I see outside of WA.

I came into this one with somewhat lowered expectations. I recall when it first opened years ago I stopped by to see how their cheesesteak stacked up against The Cheese Steak Shop and Cheesesteak Grille. All I know is that it wasn’t memorable enough to come back since.

Out front they’ve put in some artificial turf with a couple tables to sit at. I thought it was a nice little touch. Inside is a medium-to-large dining room, with maybe 1 or 2 tables too many in the main section, leaving it looking slightly cramped. The light fixtures were a bit dusty but otherwise the place felt clean and well kept.

The menu is split up into 5 sections: Cheesesteaks, Salads, Subs, Burgers, Sides/Drinks. I wanted to give their cheesesteak one more try. I decided to check out the 7″ Peppersteak (Lean steak grilled with jalapenos, peperoncini’s, melted white American cheese, mayo & spices)[$7.95]. I made it a combo with fries and a drink for $4.50 extra. I was handed a cup, which I filled at the Coke machine and then grabbed a seat. My food was brought out in just under 10 minutes.

My first impression of the tray of food was “oh no, crinkle fries, the worst kind of fry”. My coworkers and I have had a number of conversations lately about how we all hate this kind of fry and how they are usually incredibly bland. I was therefore thoroughly delighted when these turned out to be pretty damn good! They were cooked great and had just the right amount of crunch and a soft center. They were generously seasoned with salt. I admit that I got up immediately to get ketchup when I saw that they were crinkles, thinking this would be the only way to enjoy them. First off, they were perfectly good on their own. Second, had I not gone for ketchup I wouldn’t have found a condiment next to the ketchup called “fry sauce”, which was very tasty and took them to the next level. I’m guessing based on the color and flavor that it is a ketchup/mayo blend of some kind. The fries were great with both or no sauces.

On to the Peppersteak. Upon first unwrapping this it kind of settled on the tray totally split open, making it look deceptively light on fillings. Once I had it in my hands though it felt decently substantial. My main takeaway with this is the type of jalapenos they use, which are the kind that come packed in a brine and are incredibly potent with that spicy and almost sweet flavor and aroma. I’ve never been much of a fan of these. Give me fresh sliced and grilled/roasted jalapeno any day over this. However, once again, I was kind of won over on these. They jived really well with the pepperoncini’s. The steak itself was average to above average. It provided enough of the savory balance needed against the peppers and the creaminess from the white American cheese and mayo. I will note that this felt light on cheese, and that I love the balance achieved at The Cheese Steak Shoppe.

While Bruchi’s didn’t blow my socks off it didn’t really disappoint either. I left full & satisfied and it felt like a pretty good value to top it off. The service I encountered was minimal but polite and professional. I think it’s worth a return. If ordering a cheesesteak I would probably stick with the less traditional variants like the Peppersteak. For a standard cheesesteak I’ll still go to Cheesesteak Shoppe or Grille. I am curious about the subs and burgers here. Anyone try them? Leave me a comment!

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#268: Eureka!

12:05PM / 1/3/2022

https://eurekarestaurantgroup.com/

Based on my experience here I think it’s a good example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I remember seeing it from the road once it had been built, just west of the Galleria next to Lazy Dog, and thinking it was the most corporate chain looking place I’ve ever set eyes on. I assumed the thousands of these restaurants all looked the same with it’s modern styling of brick, steel and wood colored panels. From there, with no reasoning behind it, I then assumed it was a soup/salad/sandwich type of place that I wouldn’t have much interest in. Fast forward a couple of years to Fall of 2021 when I meet my parents here for lunch while they are in town. I’m surprised to see that not only is their menu dominated by burgers but they have a fantastic beer list and a pretty serious full-bar to boot. I then took a look at their website to see it’s a relatively small chain, mostly along the west coast with a few locations creeping East.

I’ve been here once since, which was actually just last weekend. On both previous visits the weather was a bit nicer than today’s overcast with a chilly breeze. On my first visit we sat out on the nice patio which has a gas-lit fire feature and a number of heaters. The bar sits up against a roll-up type glass door/window that adds outdoor bar seating when opened. Today no one was sitting outside, on account of the weather, but the window was about halfway up allowing some cool air into the dining room. This comes into play later.

I arrived just after 12PM and took a seat at the bar, where I was greeted immediately and given food and drink menus. I glanced over at a blackboard with the current rotating draft beers available and picked out Urban Roots Modest Pleasures IPA (13oz, 6.3%)[$8] which the bartender poured right away. The place was fairly quiet at this point with maybe 4-6 other parties seated around the perimeter of the dining room. The large bar was all mine until just before I left. The place is pretty chill and has some comfy loungy-type seating near the front. Seems like a nice place to sit if you’re just getting drinks and maybe appetizers.

I spent quite a bit of time going over the menu. I had looked online and picked out a very different meal before heading down here. I was going to get the Firecracker Pork Riblets as a starter and pair it with the Salmon Kale Caesar Salad, but unfortunately there were no riblets to be found on today’s menu in the restaurant. Instead I decided to get the craziest sounding burger they have, which grabbed my attention on both prior visits. This is the 28 Day Dry-Aged Bone Marrow burger (Bone marrow shiitake burger, grilled onion, horseradish mustard aioli, roasted Roma tomato)[$20]. I upgraded the standard fries it came with to the Truffle Cheese Fries [+$3].

Click/tap to enlarge menus

The burger took a while to prep and I spent the time listening to a podcast, watching the dining room slowly get busier, but most of all start to get annoyed at the breeze. I think that normally this would not be much of an issue, but the front door is apparently broken and the slightest wind whips it fully open, turning the side of the restaurant I was sitting on into a full blow wind tunnel. To the hosts credit, they would close the door at every opportunity between seating guests, but it was a futile effort. They should have just locked it and directed people to enter through the patio door instead (or closed the roll-up window, which is really the right answer here).

Anyway, my food arrived in about 20 minutes. The patty on this thing was gigantic. The the aioli was oozing down the sides slowly. I did not expect the truffle cheese fries to basically just be plain fries with a side of truffle cheese sauce to dip in. As I do with just about every meal involving fries I started there first, to enjoy them at their hottest. These were already luke-warm upon arrival, and the wind was threatening to remove the heat from my burger so I switched gears and dug into it while it was still hot. I never even set it back down again.

This thing was juicy, messy, flavor-rich, perfectly cooked. Previously I’ve had the truffle mushroom burger (photo of this at the bottom of this post) and the double-stacked bacon burger. Both were fantastic but felt slightly overpriced at $18.50. Gotta be honest – this totally lived up to the $20 price tag. The fries suffered right away with their lacking temp and the wind tunnel didn’t help. They were, however, still pretty decent when I poured all of the truffle cheese sauce over them and ate them with a fork.

All three visits have mostly been filled with good food, solid service and a nice, laid back atmosphere. Today was a bit rough around the edges. Based solely on today’s visit I’d give it a 3.5. If today was like my previous visits it would be 4.5 easily, flirting with 5. Don’t be like me and make wild assumptions – you might just miss out on a great burger ūüėČ

Truffle Mushroom Burger from my first visit back in Oct 2021.
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#253: Old Port Lobster Shack

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Tonight I went to the new Old Port Lobster Shack. ¬†They soft opened about three weeks ago near Mikuni and Century 14 on Eureka. ¬†Soon they will have their full menu, but at the moment they don’t have beer or desserts (possibly a couple other items). ¬†I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while. ¬†I had thought this was actually a much more widespread business, but they only seem to have a few other locations; two in the bay area and one coming to Portland.

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I was joined by some family members a little after 5:15PM and we were one of the first customers for dinner.  The three-person staff were very friendly and greeted us right away.  The menu is on a chalk board to the let when you walk in.

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I have been curious about what the prices would be like. ¬†My only experience with lobster rolls has been from various food trucks, and they tend to charge about $15-$17 for a small roll. ¬†I was a little taken aback when I saw that their rolls were $24.75, but I had to see what it was all about here. ¬†I’ve recently been hankering for some clam chowder, so I also ordered a cup of that [$5.75]. ¬†A bottle of Mexican Coke finished off my order [$2.50], bringing the total with tax to $36.28. ¬†There are lots of less expensive items to choose from. ¬†Pretty much everything with lobster (except the bisque) is going to set you back $25 though.

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We took a seat in the dining room and didn’t wait very long, less than 5 minutes, for our food to start coming out. ¬†For the rolls there were two choices, Naked and Maine. ¬†The Naked was just lobster with butter, served cold or warm with sides of mayo and warm butter. ¬†The Maine was served cold, mixed with Hellmann’s mayo, green onions, salt & pepper. ¬†Both were serve with¬†fries and coleslaw.

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The slaw was fairly sweet and had some¬†raisins mixed in. ¬†I’m not really a coleslaw guy but I’ll usually eat it anyway. ¬†I thought it was fine. ¬†The fries were good, crisp and hot. ¬†They didn’t need any salt or ketchup; a great fry in my book. ¬†The lobster¬†was served on a soft, buttered and toasted roll. ¬†Based on memory, I would say there was about 50% more lobster on these than on the rolls I’ve had from trucks. ¬†The naked roll was pretty straightforward. ¬†I had the Maine roll and it was very good. ¬†The mayo, very light amount of green onions and salt/pepper seasoning helped transform it into something a little more interesting and tasty.

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My cup of chowder came out in a literal cup.  It tasted pretty good, but unfortunately was not very hot.  The clams were small but plentiful, as were the  potatoes, which made it a somewhat smooth chowder.  I think if this were hot it would have been much better.

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The last item we had was a basket of fried shrimp [$13].  This also came with fries and coleslaw.  I think this was the absolute best value of everything we ordered.  It had a ton of giant shrimp that were delicious.  They had a light batter to them and it came with lemon slices which added some nice bright flavor to them.

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Admittedly, lobster is never particularly inexpensive. ¬†Still, I find the price to be a big downside and tough to justify when you can get tons of great food for much less than I spent on my roll & chowder. ¬†I’ll really have to be in the mood for lobster to return. ¬†That said, the food¬†was good (chowder temperature aside), I cannot deny that. ¬†It’s worth a visit, even if it’s not going to be a place I expect to frequent.

Website: http://oplobster.com

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

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