It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Skagit Valley. The birds were singing, the flowers were blooming, and in the parking lot of the Corner Pub, a number of vintage muscle cars were eagerly awaiting the return of their owners. We walked into the Pub and found it quite busy. A number of people were out back playing mini golf and horse shoes, and many older folks, mostly sweet old couples, were sitting around the pub area hungrily eating their meals or anxiously awaiting them.
We sat, as we are prone to do, at the bar, squarely in front of the large screen TV and right below an old fashioned bell with a sign on it that read, "Ring this if you are feeling generous." I looked around, and felt an edge to the atmosphere; as if something was about to go horribly wrong, just like in those Jason Bourne movies. I looked back at the TV and watched the horrible footage of the earthquake. As I tried to follow along with the closed captioning, I became more agitated. The person or computer responsible for the words on the screen clearly had no real grasp on the english language, so the awful images on the screen were paired with frustratingly incorrect captions describing the events as they unfolded. I had to look away, lest I lose my mind before I even get to order my cheeseburger.
That was when I noticed that there was only one server for the whole place that day, acting as bartender, waitress and cashier. She was hustling and doing her very best, but it was clear she was in the weeds, so Kurt and I patiently waited, listening to Johnny Cash on the Juke Box and trying to avert our eyes from the woefully inadequate reporting covering the earthquake. Eventually Kurt told me tales of his youth, back when he was a champion yodeler in the great city of Portland Oregon. It was something I had to that point not known about Kurt, and it made me feel grateful for the time we had to wait for service.
When our server/bartender/cashier was able to get to us, she apologized and quickly took our order and Kurt's name in case she couldn't find us when our food was ready. I ordered the hamburger with American cheese ($10. plus $1 for the cheese) and Kurt ordered the Bratwurst sandwich.
The food came out pretty quickly and looked delicious. My burger smelled wonderful and came with a big chunk of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and a length-cut dill pickle, all on a perfectly toasted hamburger bun lovingly cradeled by perfectly cooked french fried potatoes. Kurt's food came out looking a bit like a brown glob, but what do you expect when you put a sausage on sandwich bread? The reason those things are shaped the way they are is because they are intended for a specific type of bun. The sturdiness of the meat and the casing is often too robust for sandwich bread, and often, and in this case, the bread ends up falling apart around the sausage.
The burger was cooked between MR and M, and had a nice flavor to it. The fries, as always, were seasoned with salt and parsley, and it should be noted that these particular fries are Kurt's favorite in the valley. He has a penchant for thinly cut, crispy, well-seasoned fries.
The scores were as follows:
- Flavor: 7
- Juiciness: 7.5
- Vegetables: 8
- Bun: 7
- Source: 6
- Value: 7.5
- Synergy: 8
- Flavor: 8
- Juiciness: 8
- Vegetables: 6.5
- Bun: 6
- Source: 5
- Value: 8
- Synergy: 8
The burger was pretty good. When I asked the server where they got their beef she said it was USDA chuck, but if we had ordered the organic burger, we would have gotten...yes, you guessed it, organic beef. Too bad I missed that on the menu. I would say that the bun was a bit insubstantial for the life of the burger, the iceburg lettuce was rife with complacency, and the tomato, as is the trend these days, had little to no flavor. All were crisp, all fresh, but in the end, the onions and the pickle were the only vegetables adding to the flavor profile.
I bet you are wondering just how, in this instance, life is imitating life. It began with the incredibly long wait for service, got entertaining when the server/bartender cashier rushed our food past us and went out to the back porch in order to yell out Kurt's name so that she could find him to give us our food, and ended when we had to wait an inordinate amount of time for the bill. Much like the closed captioning on the TV, which could clearly not handle the rapid pace at which the news was coming in to accurate tell the tale, the waitress was not on any level able to handle the amount of business at The Corner Pub on this particular sunny Sunday afternoon.
She did the best she could, but I just could not bring myself to reach up and ring the generosity bell. Even out of pity.