Versus: A Salad and a Burger Engage in a Fare War at the Airport

The Place: Alaska Lodge, Sea-Tac Airport, Terminal C, SEATAC. Alaska Lodge is in Sea-Tac's main terminal, and lures people inside with neon beer signs and antler chandeliers. In all honesty, we really just wanted to get drunk and pass out immediately upon boarding our flight. But when our server asked what we wanted to order, we asked her for the two most popular dishes. Since the Lodge's menu spans chowders, burgers, and all-day breakfasts, we were surprised that a salad was one of the main attractions. The vibe was pretty welcoming, but how did their food fly? The Rivals: Mediterranean Chicken Caesar vs. Cheddar Bacon Burger. The Cheddar Bacon Burger ($8.50) is a quarter-pound burger with strips of bacon and melted cheddar atop a ciabatta roll with lettuce and sliced tomato. It's served with chips and a pickle spear to help get the taste of the actual burger out of your mouth. The patty tasted like one of those Sysco numbers that are thrown in the microwave before being served. It was rubbery and synthetic-tasting, and had a really foul aftertaste. The bacon was skinny and limp, but ironically supplied this burger with its best quality: super-artificial smoke flavor. The ciabatta bun sounded like a good idea, but was way too spongy for the girth-challenged beef patty. A Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Caesar ($10.95) is not something we expected to see on this pub's menu, but when our server told us how popular it was, we had to order it. The chopped romaine hearts were crisp, if a little too cold from being in the fridge overnight. The grated Parmesan was the same stuff you'd find on any Caesar, and so was the dressing. The strips of grilled chicken, however, were tender, juicy, and refreshing against the tang of the creamy Caesar sauce. The only thing better than the chicken was the lavish cracker that accompanied it. That said, we sure as hell don't know what makes this salad Mediterranean. And at $10.95, it's certainly no value for those looking for a healthy, tasty alternative before heading to the tarmac. The Champ: The Cheddar Bacon Burger, while no better than a burger you'd find on an actual airplane, fell below our expectations (low to begin with). The Caesar, on the other hand, was crisp, fresh, and flavorful. While not Mediterranean by any definition, we did enjoy eating it, which is how it earned its wings in this Versus challenge. jperry@seattleweekly.com

 
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