I love a good hole-in-the-wall as much as the next person. Burger Addict, sandwiched between a biker bar and an old-school convenience store in a crusty corner off of Maple Valley Highway feels more like the punch line of a bad joke than the new “house” of a classically French- trained executive chef like Marcus Olson.
The fact is, when you walk underneath the neon yellow and red “Burger Addict” sign your senses are hit with plain walls holding up aged 1950s architecture, framed in oak trim in a sea of squared white tiles.
Despite this, the word of mouth alone on Burger Addict was enough for me to pull the trigger and find out what all the hype was about: was it true that we have another Iron Chef in Renton?
Well, not quite. Chef Marcus Olson attended Le Cordon Bleu, is former executive chef at Le Meridien in London and Paris as well as The Bull Run Restaurant on Wall Street in New York City and whose resume is much too long to recite here.
Suffice it to say, Chef Olson has been invited to the “Iron Chef” arena more than once, as well as Top Chef, but declined because he said the whole process is counterintuitive to his cooking philosophy: cook the best food you can with great service and you have customers. “These shows have little to do with being a chef. They are edited like a soap opera and I don’t want seven minutes to create an Amuse-bouche out of vending machine food,” he said.
I can say that as a Food Network junkie, I really enjoy seeing the glitzy and acclaimed chefs in my living room, with all the hype and glory of the Roman Colosseum. But instead of chariots and warfare you have a bedazzling wonderland of ovens and rows of high-powered mixers all with the chef at the center of the whirlwind.
So at first blanche, Olson’s critique sounded, well, treasonous. But I was also intrigued. And the burger was really delicious.
Every burger at Burger Addict is made from fresh, hormone-free Washington Angus top sirloin that is ground in-house. The artisanal fries are also made in-house, as are the gelato milkshakes that come in two flavors, vanilla and chocolate. Ghiardelli chocolate, of course.
“If I can’t cook the best burger, we have problems,” Chef Olson said to me as I devoured the lettuce-wrapped creation known as The Natural. If you are expecting a fast burger at Burger Addict, with gooey orange cheese dripping with a gremolata of special sauce, rehydrated onion bits and shredded iceberg you’ve come to the wrong place. The Natural is a straightforward hamburger with BURGER ADDICT CHEESE (Olson is in the process of getting the recipe patented), raw onion, lettuce, pickle, parsley aioli cooked to order with Olson’s own cooking process that uses high-temperature induction French ovens to result in a flavorful burger that is only 280 calories.
Olson returned to Seattle 10 months ago after 18 years away cooking in Europe, D.C. and New York. He hopes Burger Addict will help finance his larger plans of opening a four-star waterfront restaurant. Apparently, the fact that Burger Addict is the only handmade burger place in the world that delivers, coupled with the new marijuana laws have put in motion the ability to print money. The only challenge is trying to take a to-go order with someone who has the munchies. Apparently, pot makes you hungry and also talk really, slowly … which is a challenge when you’re trying to run a restaurant.
“The police love us because since we are delivering were keeping people off the road who might otherwise get behind the wheel … and they love our burgers.”
According to Marcus, the concept of Burger Addict was based on his philosophy as a chef as well as simple math: more than 210,000 people drive on Maple Valley Highway each month and for the last 25 years, Americans’ hunger for burgers has increased 25 percent every year.
Then, simply offer it at a fair price, so families do not have to spend as much as at a national chain.
At Burger Addict, the burgers getting are moderately priced between $5 and $10, depending on the size.
Finally, says Chef Olson, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Burger Addict has been open only about 100 days and has already been wooed by two national chains with starry eyes and open wallets. I was surprised he wasn’t tempted to entertain their offers after hearing about his 90-hour work weeks doing every job in the house.
“I cook, clean the toilet, mop the floors, clean the fryer and I would rather do all these things … than listen to corporate jargon and doing things unethically for the guest and employees,” he said. “I would rather take a place like this, a dilapidated hole in the wall that’s been doomed to failure and turn it around.”
It’s a long way from culinary school and cooking for dignitaries to the Maple Valley Highway, but I have to say, the idea of serving good food, putting customers and employees ahead of shareholders and treating people the way you want to be treated, sounds tasty. About as tasty as a Burger Addict Natural Burger and Fry meal, in fact!
Burger Addict is located at 2435 Maple Valley Hwy.