What would you get if Guy Fieri gorged himself infinitely on his own questionable flavor bombs until, in a flash of unholy energy, he went supernova, leaving behind only a cold, bland, super-dense mass?
I don’t know. But I bet it’d be a lot like the Ironworks Grill – where flavor goes to die.
Located at the McMenamins Grand Lodge, Ironworks Grill has the typical McMenamins ambiance. It looks like an Applebees franchise run by someone who sincerely believes the cycles of the moon impacts his mood. Its dark, even in day, and decorated with a mixture of stained glass and the company’s signature whimsical artwork.
The menu is a predictable mishmash of inoffensive but potentially tasty treats. I went for the Dark Star Burger, made of ground bison, with onion, lettuce, and “dark star sauce.” Cajun tots on the side.
Look, this wasn’t my first rodeo at a McMenamins establishment. I was trying to play it safe. It’s a burger. What could go wrong?
I should have asked, “what could go right?” Somehow, Ironworks Grill managed to create a burger that’s flavorless on every level. The onions had no bite, and the sauce served no purpose aside adding moisture to the overcooked, under-seasoned patty.
What about the tots? All I can say is, the buyer at McMenamins is getting ripped off. They think they’re buying Cajun seasoning. In fact, they’re being sold salt with dyed flakes mixed in. Someone should look into that.
The beer, too, seems to have been filtered through a horribly effective anti-flavor filter. My apricot ale had little hint of apricot, or fruit of any kind. It may as well have been a glass of Session Cream Ale, though that’s an insult to Session.
To make matters worse, the meal wasn’t cheap. The burger was $16.50, and the ale $5.50. That’d be average in Portland, but out in Forest Grove, where Ironworks Grill is located, it’s just dumb.
There is a dull glow to this super-dense quasar of mediocrity. The service wasn’t bad. My waiter was pleasant enough, and extremely quick. The food came out in hardly more then ten minutes.
But that meager light struggles to escape the food’s all-consuming blandness. You could do worse than Ironworks Grill. But you could do much, much better.