Falcon Tavern 

780 W. Idaho St., (208)947-3111

The glorious hamburger is the primary reason I could never be a vegetarian. I was weaned on a french fry and cut my teeth on a cheeseburger. I've often proclaimed that if I were ever a death row inmate, my last meal would include a hamburger. Now I must amend that proclamation—my last meal would include a Falcon Tavern hamburger!

My dining partner, The Rev., and I sauntered into the Falcon for our first visit on a balmy Thursday evening. Immediately we felt comfortable. The atmosphere inside was pub-ish and classy, warmed with rich wood finishings and gentle lighting.

There were several customers enjoying themselves in the Falcon's pleasant interior, and a few partook of the outside seating and the perfect weather. We selected a table near the window and watched bipeds, giddy with sunshine intoxication, stroll the sidewalks.

The waitress took only moments to introduce herself and present menus. The Rev. and I glanced at the menu, then at each other and smiled. It had nothing to do with our affection for each other ... it was purely our delight at the Falcon's culinary temptations.

Nine delectable burgers are offered, including a jalapeno burger (my fire-breathing friends would love this); the Falcon classic featuring Bandon cheddar and smoky mayo; the All-American, the Canadian, the verde burger and a Puyallup Fair burger. What more could a flesh-eater desire?

We entered the tavern and got burger happy but not only does the Falcon feature fine burgers, they have a gallery of the most artistic sandwiches around. Leg of lamb au jus, hot pressed Cubano, Kobe brisket reuben and an impressive assortment of side dishes.

The appetizers were not at all intimidated by the prowess of the burger/sandwich fare with their own exotic appeal. We gave a rose to the coconut crusted prawns, and when we tasted them, we were enthralled. We've sampled a similar dish at other establishments, and all paled in comparison. Each prawn wore a delicate, golden coating that sealed the juices to perfection. The prawns were succulent and tender, not the least chewy or greasy. I'll be surprised if I ever taste better.

The Rev. ordered a verde burger, draped with fire-roasted Anaheim peppers and aged cheddar. He allowed me a few bites then smiled tauntingly as he hoarded the rest. I'd selected the Puyallup Fair burger because I had absolutely no idea what to expect of it. After those heavenly prawns, I felt daring.

The Puyallup includes a heap of bourbon caramelized sweet onions, lettuce, tomato and optional bleu cheese and it is thoroughly delicious. For sides we ordered the hot crisp fries and a cobb salad. It was a great deal of food, even for two people who'd eaten little during the day. We fully expected to take some of it home with us, and yet we finished it all.

The burgers are made with a blend of Kobe and Angus beef. The textures are wonderful, as is the flavor. The Falcon accessorizes their burgers with ingenious little extras: sherried mushrooms, special cheeses and sauces and those bourbon caramelized onions. While the Falcon's specialties stand proudly on their own merit, the added touches make them extraordinary. The Falcon's chef, Corey Bresina, is a Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute graduate. His attention to creative quality without forgetting the demands of appetite is excellently suited to local diners.

The only disappointment the Falcon had for us was our choice of salad. On my next visit (and there will be many more), I may sample another. Then again, I'm thinking that this place makes possibly the finest burgers and sandwiches this carnivore has ever tasted. I'll just stick with the lettuce and tomato on my Angus/Kobe masterpiece. After all, who on Death Row asks for a salad?

—Denise "Jake" Freeman is a serial burger killer.

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