The Place: McGilvra’s, 4234 E. Madison St., 325-0834, MADISON PARK. Starting this week, we’re putting a new spin on Versus. Instead of comparing two similar dishes from different restaurants, we’re going to walk into a restaurant, order two of their most popular items, and then pick our favorite. This way, we’ll not only have more dishes to choose from, but more restaurants as well.
We headed to McGilvra’s for a leisurely lunch on the water to help us cool off in some uncharacteristically scorching weather. What used to be Sorella’s is now a charming little Irish pub that’s a great escape on a hot summer day. Here you can sit on a patio overlooking Lake Washington while you bathe in a menu filled with draft beers and typical pub fare. McGilvra’s has it all, from pizzas to sandwiches to soups, salads, hot wings, nachos, Guinness beef stew, and shepherd’s pie.
But which items do the best job of whetting customers’ appetites year-round?
The Rivals: Burger vs. Reuben (each $9).
The burger’s hand-formed beef patty is served with cheddar cheese, avocado, bacon, and mayo on a toasted kaiser roll. For an extra buck, you can sub in a chicken or veggie patty. We went for the full beef experience because, well, that’s what most people at McGilvra’s order. We were expecting a whopper of a burger. What we got was a patty slightly overcooked, as were the bacon strips. It wasn’t bad, but the overcooking did detract from a potentially near-perfect burger. A side note: The fries were flipping amazing, cooked and seasoned to perfection. Not a single one was left on our plate.
The Reuben’s a generous helping of house-roasted corned beef, sliced, grilled with sauerkraut, topped with melted Swiss cheese and a zippy sauce, and piled high between toasted slices of rye. This sandwich does not disappoint: It’s full of flavor, with just the right amount of sauce. The corned beef is tender and juicy and not so overwhelming that it spills out of your bread, causing a messy multiple-napkin situation. Our only complaint is that the bread could have been toasted a little more; extra char would have kept the bread from getting soggy on one side as it sat on the plate waiting to be eaten.
The Champ: We enjoyed both entrées tremendously. Sure, it would have been better if our beers had arrived cold and not at room temperature (or had been cheaper than $5.75 for a pint of Harp). But to McGilvra’s credit, it must have been a thousand degrees in the non-air-conditioned restaurant over the weekend. Had the meat on our burger come a little less cooked, this would have been a more difficult call. As it is, the Reuben wins this challenge.