Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Grub Shack Baby!

(NOTE: Grub Shack officially closed in June 2012)

(Second Review -- October 2011)
(Third Review -- February 2012)

The Grub Shack Baby! is one of the few food trucks that can be found in Salem, Oregon. Their normal menu consists of burgers and sandwiches, but they also run different specials on a consistent basis.

They are normally found at Capitol Auto Group on Mission St. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On this day, I found Grub Shack in the Statesman Journal parking lot on Cottage and Chemeketa St. NE.

Regular menu
Specials on July 23, 2011
It should be "Black Butte Porter Chili," however....
I went for a cup of their Black Butte Porter chili ($2) and a Garden burger with spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and avocados ($4).

Cup of Black Butte Porter chili
Garden burger with spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions, and avocado
The chili was good for what it was. I personally liked seeing the white beans in the chili for a nice color contrast. I certainly appreciated the shredded cheese added on top because it melts into the chili to make for an appetizing gooey appearance.

Unfortunately, I didn't really get any flavors that would make me think a porter beer was used in this dish. I personally would have liked a thicker, heartier chili with more spice. I'm not sure if the chili is made the previous day, but it would help if it was. Chilis, stews, soups, and curries are dishes that are better from the second day onward because all the flavors get that much more time to come together. The beans would break down a bit more, releasing the wonderful starchiness that can make a chili thicker and heartier.

Here, the chili had a thin consistency, which tells me that it may have just been made fresh that morning. The flavors were OK, but I prefer big, bold flavors, and this just felt like a run-of-the-mill, freshly made chili to me. Again, to me, a day-old chili with bold flavors is the most ideal chili out there to eat.

As for the garden burger, I thought it was largely successful. The garden patty held together quite well and had good flavors. The creaminess of the avocado acted as a second condiment for the burger -- and those unsaturated/healthy fats make it a guilt-free filling meal! The crunch and bite from the red onions also worked here and added wonderful color to the burger. I didn't get much spice or heat from the"spicy mustard," but it was probably just a Dijon mustard you can find in any supermarket. I would have also liked the bun to be toasted a bit, but that's just me. I'd probably add something like sriracha and serrano peppers to the burger for a nice kick.

But heck man, I got a filling meal for a grand total of $6. I can go to many other food carts in Portland, spend $6, and still be searching for something else. Very reasonable prices here. Mac and Marilyn, the operators of Grub Shack, are very friendly and personable folks. They have rotating specials each time, so you likely won't get bored with eating the same thing. If you're ever in Salem, find The Grub Shack Baby! and sample their food for yourself!

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