Rusty Moose is a casual dining restaurant in Airway Heights with an extensive menu that has something for everyone. Included on that menu are five burgers, all of which sound delicious. The Free Range Bison Burger in particular caught my eye, but since this project is interested in beef burgers, I had to pass on it this time. Instead, I ordered The Hand-Crafted Classic Burger.
According to the menu, all of the burgers at the Rusty Moose use 100% natural, locally sourced beef. The Hand-Crafted Classic Burger came with a choice of cheese (I chose yellow cheddar), a house sauce, and “all the groceries,” which made me roll my eyes so hard I think I may have pulled something. Because the phrase isn’t especially informative, “all the groceries” were lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle slices. That would have been nice to know before I ordered, since I could have asked them to leave off the pickle slices instead of having to remove them myself.
The lettuce appeared to be a mixture of baby green and red leaf lettuce, and holy moly was there ever a lot of it. Maybe that’s what they meant by “all the groceries.” It really was too much lettuce, and I ended up removing about half of it after the first few bites. It also had a bitter taste I didn’t like, and which definitely detracted from the overall taste of the burger.
Despite the bitterness, the lettuce seemed to be fresh, as was the tomato. The raw onion seemed especially fresh, and I found the bite of the onion to be too much. It was unevenly distributed, and some mouthfuls were overpowered by the sting of raw onion.
That raw onion was especially noticeable during the last few bites, because the sesame brioche bun was a tad too large for the size of the patty. As a result, my last couple of bites were just bread and onion. The bun tasted good on its own, though, despite not being buttered and barely having been toasted.
The special sauce tasted really good, but there wasn’t enough of it. The amount was close, and I definitely wouldn’t want too much, but I did find myself wishing there had been more of it on my burger.
The menu said the Rusty Moose cooks their burgers to medium, and my waiter asked if I was alright with that. I told him I preferred my burger to be well done, but the patty arrived closer to medium-well. The patty tasted alright, but didn’t wow me.
That’s really how I felt about the burger overall: It was good enough, but far from great.
The burgers at Rusty Moose come with your choice of one of three sides, even though it looks like you can pick from seven items. I’ll talk more about that in the next section.
There are two options for fries: Asiago fries and waffle fries. I felt like the Asiago fries weren’t really keeping in the spirit of the project, so I went with the waffle fries. When they arrived, they had a freshly grated cheese on them, which was probably Asiago. The cheese was unexpected, but not unwelcome.
The temperature of the waffle fries was pretty good, and although they could have been hotter, they held what heat they did have pretty well for the duration of the meal. They were nicely crispy and had a great flavor.
They were on the greasy side, but thankfully didn’t taste like grease.
In the fries section, I mentioned the menu made it look like there were seven choices of sides. What wasn’t immediately clear was four of the seven ingredients came with a 99¢ surcharge. The formatting of the menu made it easy to overlook this fact, and I fell prey to it when ordering.
Accidentally spending an extra dollar on the fries isn’t a big deal, and I certainly wasn’t going to complain about it something that was honestly my mistake, but it’s frustrating that the formatting of the menu didn’t make it more clear that over half the sides presented were only available for an additional charge.
The burger itself was $13, and the whole meal came in at $14 before tax. That’s expensive compared to a lot of other burgers I’ve tried, and considering the middling burger, the value feels low to me.
The Rusty Moose has a hunting lodge aesthetic, which includes lots of decorations on the walls and in the rafters. I was seated underneath a large taxidermied moose head, which felt appropriate. The stuff high up was a bit dusty, but overall the decorations were surprisingly clean.
The same can’t be said for other parts of the restaurant, however. I noticed dust in crevices and on easily overlooked surfaces, including the top of the trim above the wainscoting at my booth.
My table and chairs were clean, but due to the arrangement of tables, I couldn’t see how clean other tables were. The floor had some visible crumbs, but overall seemed to be in good shape.
The restaurant was oddly dark for the middle of the day, especially since I had two lights at my table. One was high up on the wall, where you would expect to find a sconce, and the other was down low, just above the table, but still mounted to the wall. Neither one created much light, and made taking photos of my food difficult.
The dining room was kind of cold, and there was a fireplace, but it looked like there wasn’t a fire in it. It never really bothered me, but seemed strange since it was the middle of winter.
The music sounded like it was just a local Top 40 station, and was probably the most out of place thing in the entire restaurant.
The staff were dressed nicely, and my waiter was polite. He answered my questions, and when he didn’t know the answer to something, he made a point to find out for me. The hostess wasn’t especially friendly, and seemed not to have any idea what tables were free at any given moment.
The bathroom was clean enough, but could use more attention to detail. It also smelled strongly of chemical air freshener, which was off putting.
The Rusty Moose may have some good food, and if it does, The Hand-Crafted Classic Burger did a poor job of representing the menu.
A few years ago, the Rusty Moose opened a lounge area that specializes in exotic alcohol, especially Scotch and whisky. I do enjoy good whisky, so maybe I’ll take another trip for that, and while I’m there, see if something else on the menu can capture my interest.
9105 W Highway 2 Spokane, WA 99224
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