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Seattle Burger Review: Elliot Bay’s elk burger leaves longing for beef

(Tom Amato, KTTH)

I’m on a mission to find the best burger in the city of Seattle. I travel to various burger joints within city limits and rate the establishment’s most popular burger on a scale of 1-10. Of all the measures I use, taste is most important. 

Maybe a normal beef burger isn’t your thing. Maybe a veggie burger doesn’t taste enough like beef and a pork burger tastes too much like chicken. You could always go with an elk burger.  

You’ll find one of the more extravagant elk burgers at Elliot Bay Public House and Brewery in Lake City (Note: The item is not listed on the menu of the West Seattle location). It’s called the “Cherry Stout BBQ Elk Burger.” This review is purely based on the taste of one particular menu item and is not reflective of the location or any of the many offerings it has.  

Maybe elk is an acquired taste because there’s many people out there who enjoy it. The health benefits can also be attractive. The meat is more protein-rich than beef and contains far less fat content. But when it comes to taste, I found it too challenging. Let’s face it: Although body builders may find elk desirable, you’re typically not anticipating a healthy meal when you go out for a burger.  

They recommend you order the elk burger medium rare. It’s good idea to do so because elk meat is naturally tough and may be difficult to chow down on should it be cooked further. If you’re like me and used to eating beef, you’ll be surprised that, despite the color, it’s not juicy at all. It was dry and had a tough outer-hide. Maybe ‘gamy’ isn’t the right word, but I could definitely taste the iron content.  

For those expecting a flavor-blasted meal, this dish delivers, but it’s not coming from the elk. The cherry flavor comes from the house BBQ sauce that’s called “No Doubt Stout cherry BBQ sauce.” The burger comes with caramelized onions, arugula, bacon, and Swiss cheese. All those ingredients were necessary for the burger since I found the elk to be difficult. I don’t think the burger as a stand-alone would be as successful, nor would it be without flavorful ingredients. It’s served on a bun baked with spent grain.  

Since it comes on the side, I cut the burger in half and applied more BBQ sauce on one side than the other. The sauce tastes how it sounds, so if you’re a fan of cherries, you’ll be a fan of the sauce. I liked the half with added sauce better, but do be aware, it’s very strong. The onions were great and I was glad they packed them on. I also appreciated Swiss cheese because, frankly, American and Cheddar are becoming tiresome. The bottom bun did soften over time. The fries were delicious. This is a very filling burger and I almost didn’t finish.  

The burger will cost you $15.50. That’s understandable because harvesting elk and getting it to the table obviously costs more than a cow. However, I think you might be better off grabbing a beef burger which costs around $12.00. The price includes the fries.  

I loved the atmosphere of the bar. It gives off more of a ‘lodge’ kind of feel but serves food and drink like a brewery. It looks like a place that would warm you up on a winter day and it has tons of food and drink variety.  

Biggest strength(s): Onions, size, Swiss cheese  

Biggest weakness(s): Elk isn’t for everyone (including me), bun  

A friend of mine raves about this location. I loved the atmosphere, struggled with the elk. I’ll give the “Cherry Stout BBQ Elk Burger” from Elliot Bay Public House and Brewery a 5.5/10.  


What do you think of elk burgers? What do you think about this particular elk burger? Where should I go next? Tweet me @TommAmato on Twitter.  

Past reviews: 8 OZ. Burger (7.5/10), Little Big Burger (8/10), Uneeda Burger (5/10),Li’l Woody’s (7/10), CaliBurger (6/10), ShakeShack (8/10), Red Robin (7/10), BurgerMaster (4/10), Sam’s Tavern (7.5/10), Great State Burger (6.5/10), Zippy’s Giant Burgers (8/10), Red Mill Burgers (7.5,10), Henry’s Tavern in Bellevue (9/10), Blue Moon Burger’s ‘Impossible Burger’ (1/10), Katsu Burger (7.5/10), Rain City Burgers (6/10), BRGR Bar (7/10), Kidd Valley (7/10), Loretta’s Northwesterner (5/10), Scooter’s Burgers (7/10)  


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