Tom Hurley and the $26 Hamburger
The $26 burger is no more at the Triangle Lounge, and its creator, Tom Hurley, is no longer involved with the Fremont bar and restaurant. At the Triangle last week, a server showed little remorse about the tandem departure of Hurley and the burger. Some choice words were deployed about the former, who was apparently not a big hit with the staff; as for the latter, the relief at no longer having to hear "a TWENTY-SIX DOLLAR burger?!" was evident. In the burger's defense, it was meant for two and came with two beers.
Hurley first gained fame for his name-sake French restaurant in Portland, which shut down at the beginning of this year. In an interview with the Oregonian, he blamed the closure on lingering effects of a 2004 protest against foie gras staged at Hurley's. Hurley opened Coupage in Madrona in the fall of 2006; the signature menu item there was a pricey foie-gras burger, which met with lavish praise instead of protests. After a number of staff changes (including the departure of the acclaimed opening chefs, who went on to open Wallingford's Joule), Coupage shut down in August. A year ago, it was reported that Hurley purchased the Triangle, but it seems that the not-so-clear-cut relationship has ended. (Hurley did not return a call for comment.)
The burger at the Triangle now feeds only one person, as a burger is meant to do. It costs $10, with cheese and bacon included, and it tastes completely fine. A sandwich known as The Philly suffers from a lopsided bread-to-meat ratio, its big, squishy roll providing the main flavor. With both: shoestring potatoes that are remarkably similar to the canned variety (and enjoyable depending on one's stance on those). In other Triangle meats: bacon-wrapped meat loaf, described by the menu as "awesome," and while not inspiring awe, meriting credit for its greasy, basic goodness. Its presentation is by far the most haute: a vertical stack of mashed potatoes and meat loaf with a frizzy wig of fried onions on top, all flanked by a parenthetical set of peas.
Weekend nights, the Triangle is known for the spaghetti-strap and ball-cap crowd (which may also be enjoyable depending on one's stance on those). Before they arrive, it's entirely pleasant and relaxed, just a regular bar with a big, comforting red neon "PRESCRIPTIONS" sign above the liquor bottles. Also noteworthy: the waitperson, both for candor on the Hurley/burger topic and for timeliness, politeness, and unannoying good cheer. The barkeep, too, was more than necessarily pleasant, showing a high tolerance for stupid questions like: Is the cherry bomb—a shot of vodka dropped in a pint of Red Bull, $7—always the special? "Well, it is right now." Is it good? "Yeah, it's good, if you like bomb drinks." Well played, sir.