The Vig Fillmore is here, and it's serviceable

IMG_0762 Patrons of the Vig Fillmore stand in front of the bar on the interior of the restaurant. The Vig Fillmore serves quintessential american cuisine, including burgers, fries, carne asada and other southwest favorites. (Photo by Thomas Hawthorne)

I’ve always wanted to try a donut burger. I hear they have them in Portland. They have all things esoteric in Portland — go figure. A donut burger is quintessentially American. You see, there is something potentially redemptive about eating a donut burger. If you don’t like the burger itself, you at least have the donut.

In the same vein, The Vig Fillmore is exemplary in all aspects but the burger.

I had the burger as the main course, and it tasted like they took it out of the freezer (Wendy is blushing somewhere), placed it on a frying pan (sans seasoning) and served it on a bun with lettuce and tomatoes. It would have been a lot better if I was drinking. I shouldn’t have had expectations when the menu was laminated. You never get anything above standard bar food from a laminated menu.

Apparently there was supposed to be a secret sauce on the burger, but I guess the secret is that it’s tasteless. How innovative.

I would certainly pay $5 for the burger (apparently that’s the price of it on Mondays) but for $11, it's nothing short of a travesty for the pocketbook. I also tried the carne asada with a potato pancake, which looked like someone emptied out the contents of a burrito on the plate. I was reluctant to try it, to say the least.

Oddly enough, it tasted like a burrito with potatoes. However, the potato was soggy as it was placed underneath the meat, guacamole and tomatoes. Again, the chef's secret sauce was present, but the burrito lacked any flavor whatsoever. The guacamole was as depressing as its color suggested, and the carne asada was equally pedestrian.

All that said, everything else about the restaurant was flawless. Well, almost everything. My dinner companion and I were seated outside where there was a full-service bar and yellow Christmas lights streamlined above us. The patio could have been used for private parties, as it was spacious and surrounded by a gate which segregated you from the street. They even had bocce ball, and both kids and adults took turns hurling the black balls across the grass.

Outside on the patio it was very Crescent Ballroom-esque with regards to the clientele.

The sweet potato fries were the highlight of my night. They were served with curry sauce, which I felt like I could drink from the bottle. It was like eating dessert.

Speaking of which, the dessert was phenomenal.

We had a brownie with ice cream, and the presentation was nothing short of abstract art. It was a more beautiful Stonehenge, with the vanilla ice cream resplendently resting on the brownie while the chocolate drizzle was etched in a dizzying pattern.

Why didn’t the dessert guy train whoever was responsible for the carne asada disaster?

However, the service was excellent. The server literally sat down at the table with us and went over the menu, offering detailed descriptions of each item.

For what it is essentially — glorified bar food — The Vig Fillmore succeeds. I would suggest that college students come here to have a few drinks and order some snacks to share, as the appetizers average about $10 a pop.

The burger might have been terrible, but the "donut" was amazing, and that should be enough, right?


Reach the reporter at or follow him on Twitter @dgburns20

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