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Big Bird's Burgers

On the plate of Reviewer No. 1


Ken "Big Bird" Solts, who co-owns Big Bird's Burgers in Meridian, got his name from the huge halo of frizzy hair he used to sport--he's bald as a billiard ball now and actually looks more like a big, friendly Snuffleupagus. He opened the burger joint because he needed a change after eight years as a chaplain in a maximum security correctional facility.

Big Bird says flavor is the most important part of any meal, and he isn't afraid to mix tastes not usually paired together. He likes to share that proclivity with visitors to his restaurant.

On my first trip, I braved the peanut butter and bacon burger ($5.19/$7.19 with fries and a drink), a favorite with regular diners, Big Bird said. Though the burger was stacked with ingredients I love--peanut butter, 1,000 island dressing, pickles, cheddar cheese and bacon--I was surprised at how much I disliked the combination. The thick spread on the beef didn't work.

My brother, sister-in-law and their two grade-schoolers joined me for round two and we surveyed our meal: fish and chips for me ($8.99), the blue chipotle burger for my sib ($5.29 plus $2.12 for onion rings) a mushroom, swiss and bacon burger for my sib-in-law ($5.29 plus $2.12 for fries) and kids' meals ($3.99) for the wee ones.

The burnt-umber colored filets were a bit greasy, but the fries held their own, their battered outsides up to the challenge of repeated dippings in a spicy fry sauce (25 cents extra). Sharing with my sister-in-law, I proffered her two filets and then mowed through half of the 'shroom, bacon and swiss stack. While my peanut butter burger was underdone, this one was a shade of cooked-beef brown (I should lobby for a new crayon color). The bite of my bro's burg' was cause for pause: The blend of mild, smoky chipotle and blue cheese was all salty and spicy and tangy. It's a combination I'm all about.

We plunked down a few extra bucks and were soon staring down a pile of gizzards, onion rings, butterflied shrimp and chicken strips. Big Bird buys his onion rings and shrimp pre-battered, but he rolls his own chicken strips and gizzards. Though I generally gack at gizzards, they weren't bad, fried to a dark brown, and crispy and chewy, with nary a drop of extra grease. The long, rectangular white-meat chicken strips were coated in a pale yellow, dotted with dark flecks of spice and were juicy and enjoyable dipped in honey mustard.

Like the PB'n'B, the pervasive Christian theme in the restaurant--"Driven By Faith: In Jesus" T-shirts on the bright yellow walls, stickers for the church they attend in the windows, even the receipts with "May God Bless You, John 3:16" at the bottom--wasn't to my liking. But I'd consider turning the other cheek for another bite of that chipotle burger.

--Amy Atkins says bacon on kittens and warm bacon mittens are a few of her favorite things.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Big Bird's Burgers.