Thursday, June 30, 2011

Over the Top

Over the Top, located at the A la Carts Food Pavilion in SE Portland, sells various wild game burgers. No generic beef burgers here, folks!

They have regular menu items such as buffalo, boar, and elk, but their special on June 24...rabbit!

Rabbit  burger special
Being the curious foodie that I am, I went for the rabbit special with slaw ($9).

Apples, crumbly blue cheese, onions, cabbage, tomato,  and perhaps a bit of lime

Rabbit burger
The lovely cross-section
The slaw was OK, not great. Sorry, just my personal preference on my dislike of blue cheese. I appreciate the combination of flavors the slaw had, from the sweet apple, to the zing of the blue cheese, to the crunchy cabbage. I believe I detected a bit of citrus in there, possibly lime juice, to bring all the flavors together. As a note, I probably would have downed the entire slaw in a minute without the blue cheese.

The rabbit burger (cooked to order) was an interesting experience. The cooks did an excellent job of cooking the ground rabbit, just extremely juicy. The best way I can describe the taste of rabbit: think of ground chicken, but with that gamy taste that could be off-putting to people. Personally, I don't mind the gaminess -- and I even think it is an interesting tangy taste. The burger could have been seasoned a little more to mask that gaminess.

I liked the freshness of the lettuce and tomato, and the caramelized onions provided a silky pleasurable feeling in my mouth. I also thought the sweet chili sauce enhanced the burger by giving it a sweet dimension.

But I had concerns with the burger. First, while the bottom bun was soft and wonderful, the top half of the bun got a bit too firm, to the point where I feared it was going stale. Buns should be soft, yet firm to hold the burger and other stuff inside. The combination of a soft bottom bun and a hard top bun made things messier than it should have been. The rabbit, the cheese, and the vegetables all wanted to escape that starchy capsule.

Second, the menu stated the rabbit special comes with fried jalapenos, sweet chili, sauteed kale and onions, lettuce, and tomato. I saw no fried jalapenos and no sauteed kale in my burger. Cheese was not advertised, but I got some in there (could have been provolone but I'm not sure).

Third, the service was generally good, but the last part of my ordering experience raised a slight red flag. I asked for a plastic knife to cut the burger in half (so I could take that great cross-section burger picture you see above). The guy in the food truck reached for a plastic knife and just tossed it on the counter for me to pick up. What if the counter was dirty? Utensils should always be kept as clean as possible. Handing me the plastic knife would have been a better option.

Over the Top did not impress me very much with their rabbit special, but it still deserves kudos for giving its customers a unique burger experience. There are still other items on the menu that I am willing to try. It's an average place for now, but I do plan to go back. That rating could change for the better if I get a kickass burger on my next visit. 5/10

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