Dining Out: Peanut butter burger takes cake at Killer Burger

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Why: Gourmet burger enthusiasts take note: Killer Burger has come to town.

July 9 marked the opening of its fourth fast-casual burger bar. Located on Southeast 164th Avenue next to On The Boarder in Fisher's Landing area, Killer Burger offers a menu of 10 burger options, as well as 10 local microbrews. Every burger is made with one-third pound of beef (no "pink slime" included) and bacon, and comes with fries. The beef is never frozen, and all of the sauces are housemade.

Atmosphere: The restaurant, formerly occupied by the short-lived Vancouver location of El Pollo Loco, has been re-created with battleship gray-colored walls, corrugated metal, and amber Italian-glass pendant lights, all tastefully trimmed in black. The menu is written on a wall-to-wall chalkboard above the order counter. Two large-screen televisions offer visual entertainment, and nostalgic rock music adds a beat to the vibe -- though my dining companion and I found the music a bit loud for a conversation of standard volume.

What I tried: I settled on the popular Peanut-Butter-Pickle-Bacon burger, and my dining companion tried the Teemah, which has bleu cheese, Smokey House Sauce, bacon, grilled onions and pickles.

I admit I was skeptical about peanut butter on a burger and even more so when it arrived at the table, and I discovered the sauce oozing down the sides. The burger also contained mayonnaise and grilled onions, in addition to the title elements. With my mission at the forefront, I dove in … and was pleasantly surprised. The peanut butter sauce was not sticky or dry. It gave the burger a flavor that crossed into Thai territory, but the pickles imparted an undeniably classic American taste. I couldn't detect the flavor of the mayonnaise, which is quite docile in flavor compared to peanut butter and pickles. And the grilled onions were sparse; they, too, did not add much to the overall flavor of the burger. The bacon and the beef were lean and juicy, and created a flavorful foundation for the burger.

My dining companion enjoyed her burger and noted that the bleu cheese dominates the Teemah, making it a good choice for bleu cheese lovers.

Killer Burger's coarse-salted fries are deep-fried to a golden crisp that reaches beyond the outer layer. We found them a satisfying side to our burgers.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The rebels among us might be tempted by The Marine Hot! burger that comes with a "don't eat it!" warning; it contains extremely hot ghost peppers. A waiver must be signed before the attempt is made.

The Fun Guy burger sounded delicious. It is made with mushrooms, melted Swiss cheese, Smokey House Sauce, bacon, grilled onion and pickle.

A half-size burger with fries is available for kids.

Other observations: The service was prompt and friendly. Orders are delivered to your table.

Killer Burger met our expectations, earning its spot on my places to go for a gourmet burger. However, crisp, fresh vegetables are at a minimum, so only an occasional visit is likely.

Exterior signage doesn't stand out, so the restaurant is easy to miss on a drive-by; your best bet is to aim for On The Boarder and head next door.

Cost: Burgers start at $5.95 for a "Girlie Size" of any burger selection, and top out at $11.95 for The Marine Hot! burger. A Garden Patty may be substituted on any burger for an additional $1. An additional beef patty is $2.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Telephone: 360-836-5275.

Where: 1525 S.E. 164th Ave., Vancouver.

On the Web:http://killerburger.biz.

Health score: Killer Burger has received a pre-opening inspection and will receive a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.