Versus: Peanut-Butter Burgers [sic]

Is King's the king? Or should McCoy’s be doctored?

The Dish: A hamburger with peanut butter and bacon will make sense as soon as you bite into it: a grilled patty slathered with a buttery spread that takes the role of cheese in a traditional burger. But the savory bacon and hamburger meld with the slightly sweet peanut butter to create a taste that's a clear departure from the burgers you're probably used to eating.Peanut butter and onions are also a great combination, but that shouldn't come as a surprise. Many people use peanut butter in chili, which is basically another combination of meat and onions, so a PB burger is not a totally odd idea. PB-and-bacon burgers may not end up being your favorite, but they make for a nice change of culinary pace when you want to switch up the burger-bar experience. We lost our PB&B virginity by double-teaming two Seattle restaurants that tout the best peanut-butter burgers around.The Rivals: King's Hardware, 5225 Ballard Ave. N.W., 782-0027. BALLARDKing's has had The After-School Special ($9.50) on their menu since they opened in 2006. The burger is piled high with onions, lettuce, and tomato. The Adams natural peanut butter they use gives off a subtle taste; the neutrality almost entirely inherits the smoky flavor of the bacon. It is, unfortunately, a little too runny when heated. The burger also comes with a side of some of the best sweet-potato fries you'll ever taste. An extra 50 cents will buy you a side of ranch dressing, which goes great with the fries. What's extra nice about this burger is that after eating it, believe it or not, you won't feel like your stomach just hit the floor. It's filling without being heavy.McCoy's Firehouse, 173 S. Washington St., 652-5797. PIONEER SQUAREPat's Peanut Butter Bacon Burger ($7.75) has the same toppings as King's, just in lesser quantity. That wouldn't be a problem if there weren't so much peanut butter to deal with. On the plus side: Skippy is the peanut butter of choice at McCoy's, and because of the extra sugar and oil in this brand, the peanut-butter flavor sort of hits you in the face, which is a good thing. The added oil also adds structure to the peanut butter, which keeps it from slipping off the patty and onto your plate. You can really taste the spread throughout the burger; it doesn't get lost in the overpowering flavor of the bacon. It does, however, pour out of the bun, since there's so much of it. We suggest using it instead of ketchup for your fries. The bun is also nicely grilled, giving the burger the comforting familiarity of morning toast. The patty, however, was overcooked. Not even the generous portion of melted peanut butter could save it from Dryville.The Champ: McCoy's burger could have used less time on the grill, while King's bun could have used more. We liked the toasted bun of McCoy's burger; we even liked the cheap peanut butter they used. On the flip side, King's burger was cooked to perfection—a little pink in the middle, but not too pink. It was juicy, and came with enough toppings to create layers of flavors that worked surprisingly well together. We tasted the pickles and onion and tomato—nothing was drowned out by the peanut butter. It's a close call, but we give this Versus challenge to King's for their properly cooked patty and topping generosity. And while we're all for organic and natural ingredients, we would like to suggest using an all-natural peanut butter that has a little sugar and oil added for extra flavor, substance, and texture. Skippy actually makes a natural peanut butter without hydrogenated oils. Sure, it's got a little palm oil, but when you're ordering a bacon-peanut-butter burger, health clearly isn't your #1

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