The classic cheeseburger and fries from Black Cow Photo by Jack Allsopp

Picture your perfect burger, that one that set the standard for every burger you’ve had since. Now imagine being able to re-create it. With perfectly cooked patties and a bun that holds in whatever toppings you choose, Black Cow Burgers and Fries probably can.

Black Cow, on Exchange Street in Portland’s Old Port, is currently offering curbside takeout and limited indoor dining. Using its website, the takeout process is easy and allows for a lot of customization. I ordered a cheeseburger with all the classic toppings – American cheese, iceberg lettuce, pickles, onion, mustard and a little mayo – and a side of fries. It only took me about a minute or two to place my order online, and it was ready by the time I got there, around 25 minutes later.

The cheeseburger was priced at a fair $9, and the fries were $5, which I thought was a little steep for a side, but you get a lot of them. The burger was just the right size, not so thick I couldn’t bite into it but not thin like a fast-food patty. The meat was juicy, cooked a little past medium-rare, which is just how I like it, though temperature wasn’t among the customization options.

All the toppings melded well, none overpowering the others, and the brioche bun kept it all together, not letting anything spill out after the first bite, as often happens. The fries, however, were not my style. I prefer them thick, crispy and well dressed in salt, while these were thin, flimsy and lacked seasoning. But I still managed to eat every last one.

Black Cow’s takeout menu covers the basics and more, including a mushroom swiss burger ($12), with sauteed mushrooms and bordelaise sauce; the Slushburger ($9), Black Cow’s version of the sloppy joe; and a veggie burger, made with a mushroom lentil patty. If you’ve got a big appetite, you can double- or triple-stack your patties. After you’ve selected your base, customize your burger by adding or removing any toppings, which also include extra cheese and bacon.

Although burgers are Black Cow’s specialty, the menu does have other sandwiches, including a sausage, egg and cheese ($10), grilled cheese ($5), fried chicken sandwich ($10) and fried fish sandwich ($13). Sides include tomato soup ($8), chicken wings ($10), fried Brussels sprouts ($9) and poutine ($16), among others. You can accompany your meal with a milkshake, handcrafted soda, wine, beer or specialty cocktail.

I was satisfied with my basic order for my first visit to Black Cow, but I figure that adding to it will only make it better. A double-stacked cheeseburger with a side of poutine and a chocolate milkshake sounds right for the second time around.


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