I came upon John Howie Steak as I was researching online for the best burgers in the Seattle area in preparation for my trip to the Seattle area last month. The Happy Hour Bacon Burger from John Howie Steak had made it on to several ‘Best Burger’ lists. John Howie Steak is actually an upscale steakhouse located in the ritzy shopping complex, ‘The Shops at The Bravern’ in Bellevue. John Howie Steak actually has quite an extensive food menu for Happy Hour in their Bar. This Happy Hour menu is actually a subset of their regular Bar menu but with Happy Hour prices. Their Bar Happy Hour runs from 3pm to 6pm, daily. As well, they have a ‘Happy Hour After Dark’, which runs from 9pm to 11pm on Mondays through Thursdays, and from 9pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The Happy Hour Bacon Burger is actually available all day.
This was perfect for my friend C and I as we happened to be shopping nearby. We decided to stop in at John Howie Steak for a snack during their Happy Hour. My main goal was to check out their signature bacon burger.
We started off with the signature USDA Prime Beef Bacon Cheeseburger ($9 during Happy Hour; $15 regular), which is otherwise known as their Happy Hour Bacon Burger. The burger consisted of a ½ pound ground prime sirloin patty topped with local Beecher’s cheddar, Kurobuta bacon, drive-in sauce, lettuce, tomato slices, pickles and sliced red onion on a house baked bun. It was served with a side of crispy fries.
The burger was HUGE so it’s a good thing my friend C and I shared it. In fact, I noticed the people at most of the other tables were sharing their burgers as well. On paper, this all had the makings of a great burger so I had high hopes. But unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. The burger was indeed very juicy. In fact, it was so juicy, that the bottom half of the brioche bun got a little soggy from soaking up all the juices. And I loved the smokiness of the Kurobuta bacon, which some foodies would consider to be”the Kobe beef of pork”. However, I was surprised that the ground prime sirloin patty didn’t taste very beef-y at all. I’ve been spoiled with Canadian Prime beef here in Alberta and was expecting that same level of flavour and beefiness in the USDA Prime patty. I did, however, enjoy the fries, which were perfectly crispy. Relative to the price of $9, this was certainly great value for what we actually got and is definitely better quality than what one might be able to find at other burger joints at this price point. However, this wasn’t the most memorable burger that I ever had. I often still think about the burger that I had at Naglee Park Garage in San Jose, California two summers ago.
We also tried the Tempura Fried Kurobuta Bacon ($7 during Happy Hour; $10 regular), which was served with a maple sambal ponzu dipping sauce. I was really intrigued about the Tempura Fried Bacon after reading rave reviews about it. Indeed, it was delicious! After all, what’s there not to like about bacon… The tempura batter was really crispy but I found it to be a bit on the greasy side. Personally, I couldn’t eat more than a piece or two of it because of how greasy it was. Overall, I’m glad we tried it but I’m not sure it’s something we would order again with just the two of us. If I was with a larger group, I would order it as it is definitely a novelty snack item and the Kurobuta Bacon itself is delish! I was thankful for the maple sambal ponzu dipping sauce which helped to cut the grease.
As luck would have it, my friend C and I happened to be in the Bellevue area again the following weekend and decided to go back to John Howie Steak again for Happy Hour to try some of the other menu items.
We started off with an order of the American Wagyu Sirloin Steak Sliders ($9 during Happy Hour; $12 regular), which were topped with mesquite grilled sweet red onions and roasted garlic-peppercorn aioli on house baked buns. The sliders were served with a few cornichons on the side. These sliders were delicious! I was really impressed at how flavourful and beefy the Wagyu patties were. This was a stark contrast to the signature USDA Prime Beef Bacon Cheeseburger that we had the previous week, which really didn’t have much beef flavour at all. To me, these Wagyu sliders were definitely the winner! I actually prefer these over the signature bacon burger that everyone’s been raving about.
Next up was the Crispy Fried Ricotta Gnocchi ($6 during Happy Hour; $9 regular), which were tossed in truffle oil and served with a truffle sweet onion crème for dipping. I really wanted to try this dish because I had read really good reviews about it. Many people had described it as being “rich, yet still light and fluffy”. The outsides were indeed crispy but the insides to us were really doughy and bland. We were expecting more of a flavor punch from the gnocchi themselves and expected to taste more of the ricotta. To me, they basically just tasted like unseasoned beignets as I couldn’t taste much of the cheese. Thank goodness for the truffle sweet onion dipping sauce which helped to give it some flavour. This was actually the least favourite dish out of all the ones we tried at John Howie Steak.
Lastly, my friend C wanted to try the Chicken Liver Mousse ($8 during Happy Hour; $11 regular), which was made with shallots, cream and cognac and topped with a pinot noir grape aspic. The mousse was served with pickled shallots, a huckleberry reduction, and some golden raisin jam. My friend C really enjoyed the Chicken Liver Mousse but for me, the liver flavour in the mousse was too strong for my liking.
Out of all the items were tried on the Happy Hour menu, the American Wagyu Sirloin Steak Sliders were definitely the favourite. We’d definitely stop in for more of those on our next shopping trip to Bellevue.
John Howie Steak
The Shops at The Bravern
11111 NE 8th St, Suite 125
(between N 111th Ave & N 112th Ave)