The guy we blame is Mark Hipkiss. According to the embroidery on his white coat, he's executive chef of John Howie Steak, the culinary pride of Bellevue's tony Bravern complex. Chef Hipkiss apparently was not content serving dainty deviled eggs alongside crack-addictive bar snacks like the deep-fried tempura bacon with a maple sambal dipping sauce (and he made sure to use only Kurabota bacon); he was looking for something, well, beefier and piggier. Now, Mr. Howie himself is no dainty waif, so his eyes lit up when Mr. Hipkiss showed off his two latest sandwich creations, and -- bang! -- they're on the lunch menu.
The Three Little Pigs, $14, has something for all pork lovers. First, a base of Kurabota pork loin, pounded flat and tempura battered; a quarter pound of Black Forest ham, and four pieces of that same deep-fried Kurabota bacon that drives mortals insane. Layer on top of that some cheddar cheese and chipotle-flavored ranch dressing, top with two eggs over easy, then encase the sandwich in a house-baked roll. It's a hangover breakfast on a bun, and should be served with a Bloody Mary and a pot of French press, not potato salad.
The Triple Bypass, $16, starts with 12 ounces of prime chuck ground in-house, cheddar cheese, topped with three pieces of tempura bacon. There are also tempura onion rings in there somewhere, and what's described as "drive-in sauce." (Lovers of Dick's will understand.) No bun; it's served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
Both sandwiches avoid the wretched excess of fast-food stunts like KFC's Double Down or BK's ginormous Quad Stacker and its even-more-filling Triple Whopper, all gooey fat and salt. Or even the famous 12-egg omelet at Beth's Cafe on Aurora, which defeated the star of TV's tasteless Man v. Food. The point here is flavor, not calories, says Hipkiss; it's the "Wow!" factor when the plate hits the table and everybody pulls out the cameras.
And be sure you save room for dessert: batter-dipped limoncello pound cake sticks with three dipping sauces (chocolate ganache, Rainier huckleberry jam, lemon mascarpone). Seriously, if you have to count calories, stay home.
If you go: John Howie Steak, 11111 N.E. Eighth St., Bellevue (inside The Bravern), 425-440-0880. Open for lunch 11 am to 2:30 pm Monday-Friday. Open for dinner 5-10 pm Monday-Thursday; 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday; and 5-9 pm Sunday.