Orcas Hotel Café – By Howie

I am an American. Those four little words should tell you everything you need to know about how much I love burgers. Okay, not everything, but I hope you get the idea. There’s nothing quite like it: Meat, Toppings, Condiments, Crispy Toasted Bread, mix and match to your liking (yes, I realize I also just described a normal sandwich, but follow me on this one), and chow down! That being said, I do also realize that not all burgers are created equal: a gourmet burger is not a good comparison to a cookout burger, and while I do enjoy both (very much so), when you decide to up the ante and treat yourself to a restaurant, you expect something a bit more on the decadent side. And, I am pleased to report, that (at least) the food given to me by Orcas Hotel Café did not disappoint!

Orcas Hotel has a long history of different chefs and restaurant names gracing its doors, but in the new world of Survive the Pandemic (take that however you will) they have opted for a simpler design: small café, small menu, daily specials, lunch, and dinner; no frills, basically. Their entire ordering process for dinner is online so my esteemed colleague and I had to change up our usual rules, and I took his recommendation for the Cheeseburger with Fries while he went with the Burmese Chicken Curry Special (read Simon’s review of Orcas Hotel Café here). Now, my overly simplified palate may suggest that I got the raw end of the deal (heh-heh), and in most cases you’d be right. Just not this one.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. I do need to talk about the service, even if it was experienced more by my esteemed colleague. From what I could tell, the place felt too much like a cafeteria pickup area for my liking, no doubt to keep costs low in these troubling times. While I will commend Orcas Hotel Café for doing their best, frankly, it was still lacking in certain areas. Food prep was fine, but with no good way for a voice to carry around to the front of the building (the part overlooking the water) orders can get lost in the din of other customers closer to the pickup window. Now, because of ordering ahead and assigning a pickup time, our food was ready when we arrived-maybe two minutes early. This can be a double-edged sword, for while our food was there on time, it may have gotten a bit cold when they put it out too early. Nothing glaring enough to disturb the meal (at least, my meal), but it’s just something to watch out for.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for! The Burger! Served in a simple cardboard food package (no doubt expecting more takeout orders than sit-down customers), so a bit lacking in presentation, but I am happy to report that the actual food was wonderful. The burger was thick, greasy, and oh so hearty, every single bite better than the last one, and melding with the toppings
beautifully. I tend to enjoy my burgers topped traditionally sans pickles, and their lettuce, tomato, onions, mayonnaise, and ketchup worked wonders on this simple concept done so right. Buttered and toasted bun, juices running into the bottom bun making it delectable, this was definitely one of the best burgers I’ve had on this island. Also, when I order or receive French fries with any meals, I tend to have to salt them more, otherwise, I find them a bit bland on my tongue. Fortunately, this was not one of those cases. Thin cut, but not shoestring; not as crispy as I usually would prefer, but good fries all the same. All in all, a wonderful meal on the porch with a glorious view… out of a cardboard box.

In the days of COVID, we must take what we can get from anyone running a business anywhere. Food, retail, specialty, all of these kinds of places require bodies to help them continue in these strange times we are in. Workers, I believe, would help bolster Orcas Hotel Café’s issues with their service, and if any of their menu items are as good as this Cheeseburger was, I think that’s all they will need to continue.

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