In the summer, The Gourmet Burger Shop is abuzz. A scenic drive along State Route 302 funnels diners to a quirky building with outdoor seating serving some of the best burgers on that side of the Narrows bridge. Chef-owner Travis Hightower turns out towering burgers made with hand-formed patties – built on glossy buns from the nearby 3 Clouds Bakery.
Side dishes are brag worthy: Shoestring garlic-herb fries are absolutely stunning – the kind that you need to grab by the handful and shove into your mouth; wafer thin beet chips are served with a choice of flavor-licked aiolis made in house by Hightower. This restaurant is a surprising find, a tiny burger shack that’s little more than a walk-up counter and a few dining tables. The food reminds me of what Pacific Grill does in its bar; and Crown Bar on Sixth Avenue, too.
Come winter, the scene shifts at the Gourmet Burger Shop. Business is much slower, fewer people happen by as winter sets in; the restaurant also loses seating with fewer diners wanting to suffer the picnic tables outside and the three-table dining room is pretty cramped. The small septic system and the configuration of the building make it impossible for Hightower to expand. So his solution is to move. He’ll continue to operate the Gourmet Burger Shop through the end of this year, then will transition to a new downtown Gig Harbor space by the beginning of February. His new home is in the former space of Le Bistro, which burned in a fire in February 2010.
The space is move-in ready after seeing an extensive remodel post-fire; it will seat 25. Hightower said he’d keep the same casual service with counter ordering, but no table service. A drive-through window will serve espresso, but not food (the line would be too long for made-to-order burgers).
The menu will remain unchanged at the new restaurant – Hightower will continue to serve burgers with different cheeses and toppers. He’ll also offer a turkey burger as an option. Here’s something for vegetarians, Hightower makes a potato-truffle burger with pesto and goat cheese (he said it’s good with bacon, too).
Hightower has applied for a liquor permit and intends to serve beer and wine. He hopes to stock 7 Seas Beer and a small selection of beer in cans and bottles. Read my previous review of the Gourmet Burger Shop from last June here.
The Gourmet Burger Shop
Current location: 11717 State Route 302 N.W, Gig Harbor,
Phone: 253-858-5205 or Facebook
Moving to: 4120 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor
Opening: February 2013