The Baker’s Burger and the First Response Scooter

I was scooting to Jimmy’s apartment, a friend who had not answered his phone nor returned any messages in the last few days. I was approaching Ettore’s European Bakery & Restaurant, a bakery known for its bread and pastries, and for its burger! I pulled into the parking lot deciding to give the burger another shot I would deal with my mysterious friend after I eat. (My stomach works that way.)

In the fall of 2007 Sacramento Bee food and culture writer, Allen Pierlioni chose Ettore’s burger as his personal favorite. A short time before that article was published my brother commented that the bakery made an excellent burger. After these two positive reports my wife and went there. I do not remember why we were disappointed, but I do recall wondering what the big deal was with this burger.

Now, three years later I have an opportunity to evaluate “Ettore’s Award Winning Hamburger on our Cheddar Scallion Bun.” That long-winded title is directly from Ettore’s Lunch menu. Also on the menu is that the burger was “VOTED BEST HAMBURGER IN SACRAMENTO!” (All-caps and exclamation mark are theirs.)

While the Award Winning Hamburger on our Cheddar Scallion Bun is good, I think the title sets up the customer to be disappointed. I can name five burgers better than this one and that is not counting burgers from places considered by many local food critics as serious contenders. (Jamie’s, Jerry’s Tumbleweed Inn, and Nationwide Freezer Meats are known to make excellent burgers.)

If you are a vegetarian and a lover of hype, Ettore’s also makes the “House Made Mushroom Veggie Burger on Wheat Roll, which they call The BEST VEGGIE BURGER EVER! (I am glad I can copy/paste all this hype right off their online menu.)

Okay, enough picking, here the stuff that would make you want to try one of these: the bun for one thing. The Cheddar Scallion is the best hamburger bun I have tasted. You almost do not need the slice of Swiss cheese—that is almost.

The beef is a fresh Niman Ranch patty topped with Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms. The red leaf lettuce is a nice touch with the tomato slice. There is a generous helping of herb mayonnaise on the bun that probably contributes to the bun’s premature disintegration. Still, I prefer the herb mayonnaise to the uninspiring Thousand Island dressing you get with other burgers.

Personally, I miss the onions, whether sautéed or raw. In addition, pickles, even pickle chips would have been nice, but these omissions are intentional and contribute to the distinctive Ettore’s burger taste. Since the burger has a much stronger emphasis on the grilled, savory elements rather than the crisp veggie parts, I would think a couple of strips of bacon would have better completed this approach.

Attire’s burger is good. It goes for a little under $10 and is only on their lunch menu. I could not judge the quality of fries because the burger comes with pasta salad instead. With only a few minor drawbacks, I would return to Ettore’s for this burger I only question all the press’ hoopla and the self-congratulatory verbiage on their menu.

First Response Scooter

With a full belly, I pulled out of Ettore’s parking lot and scooted to my friend Jimmy’s apartment only to find him confused and unable to string together a single sentence. When I suggested I call 911 he objected, and pointed down to the parking lot. My eyes locked on my scooter. This was out of the question. I was not going to ride to the hospital with him on the back of my Vespa—he was out of it and probably would fall off. Besides, together we would max-out the suspension! A split second later I realized he meant his van. I opted for 911.

A few minutes later we were on the sidewalk in front of his apartment complex and the EMTs loading him into the ambulance. They hauled Jimmy to the hospital. The weird thing is six months ago I did not have any wheels. So in reflection, I do not know who would have visited Jimmy if I did not. I am sure someone would have eventually, but thanks to my scooter I was able to respond to this situation. Maybe I’ll get a helmet with a cherry top and siren.

Speaking of burgers and hospitals—I don’t think I will be scooting to Blimpie for their dubious venture into the world of burgers, beef or otherwise.

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