Monday, December 29, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
(ordered a double, but was given a single... can't be sure what we were charged for)
Almost as annoying as the current Steakburger trend, is the pervasive "extreme" trend that pops up sporadically across the fast-food landscape. No matter who is serving up "extreme" burger-fare, you can be pretty sure their product is going to be about as extreme as a piano recital. Your average burger-munching fast-food frequenter can't handle outrageous heat, and therefore "spicy" burgers generally end up being rather tame. No body's going to buy your product if it makes them shit blue flame in the morning; they'll think they have e-coli.
The latest "extreme" fast-food burger offering comes from Burger King. Screamin' in at least five heat notches below Wendy's "Spicy Baconator" (I seriously wouldn't be worried about knocking a couple of these back before a date, family gathering, night with an escort, etc.) is the new "Angry Whopper".
Though it's nowhere near what I'd call an accurate culinary representation of anger, the "Angry Burger" is one of the better fast-food specialty burgers I've had in quite a while. The gushing processed flavour of this unit is quite comforting. Every ingredient tastes spectacularly bad for you, in the way that only a truly transcendent assembly-line foodstuff can. A fluffy white bun, sweet jalapenos, and an array of salts and chemicals provide perfect punctuation to any trip through Colwood. Save the glut of ketchup (which does come close to completely ruining this package), the "Angry Burger" is pretty tasty.
VERDICT: Unless it's ketchup and mayo, I have no idea what "Angry Sauce" is supposed to be, and this unit isn't much "angrier" than a regular Whopper. It still tastes about a thousand times better than a regular Whopper though.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Mill Bay! Home of the hottest little teenage fast-food vixens this side of Salmon Arm! But we're not going for fast food today, instead we're going to a glorified Greyhound Bus Stop Cafe.
If you've ever been unfortunate enough to have to take a Greyhound up island, you know there is a nice clean parking lot that Mill Bay-ites get dumped at before the bus moseys it's way on to Nanaimo and parts unknown. Inside the highway-side strip mall is Catrina's Grill, and its Avalanche Burger. If you ordered a burger making kit online; the final product would probably taste like this burger.
Like so many other burgers in the area we've got ourselves a relatively blahzay, pre-formed patty sitting underneath an "avalanche" of mushrooms, bacon, and caramelized onions. The flavour of the sauteed mushrooms gets lost in the mix, and the caramelized onions are pretty damn sweet in this package. If this burger was served at a folksy southern cafe they probably would have thrown in some carrot shavings and called it "The Kitchen Sink Burger".
Not much else to say about this burger. There are a million restaurants out there that copy the Boston Pizza/Kelsey's family fare style, and Catrina's Grill is just slightly better than the rest of the imitators. The Avalanche Burger does have a great bun, but a bun alone is not worth the drive to Mill Bay.
"5-10 centimeters of snow is expected to fall..."-Weather Men.
With the prospect of making snow angels on the horizon, we hopped into my parents SUV and drove up island to avoid another disappointing lack of snow in Victoria. Of course the weather forecast was wrong, and our Snow Day 2008 was a failure. In fact, on the way to a Shawnigan Lake Pub to do a burger review, we noticed candles glowing in all of the houses off of Shawnigan Lake road. Apparently a trace of wet snow and 30 kilometer winds is enough to knock out power for 5,000 households on Vancouver Island.
So we left the darkness and ended up in downtown Mill Bay and stopped at the first pub style restaurant we could find: Catrina's Grill: the burger was average. The cheese and bacon was nice, and it wasn't dry, so it wasn't a failure, but the beef was tasteless and soggy. Making the burger even soggier was the pool of caramelized onions and dripping wet mushrooms. Luckily, the bun was fantastic; probably the best aspect of this burger. It was soft and delicious, holding the wet little package together. But the best part of this burger experience was making eye contact with the severely under aged girl making sandwiches at the Subway next door. I give this burger a C+.
For a "healthy" burger, the Avalanche Burger is not too bad, and bigger than the average chain store version. There is no secret ingredient comprised of sugars and liquid imitation grill taste that is added to this burger, and the fries are tastier since there's a crunch in every bite.
For the burger itself; it does not live up top its namesake. There's no overwhelming mountain of mushrooms, onions, lettuce or tomatoes—and I've consumed designer burgers where I can pile on as many condiments as I want (that is when they once existed in Victoria... remember ?).
While I consumed the burger expecting a flood of flavours to overwhelm my , it was more like a flood of feeling somewhat filled afterwards. This burger is approximately 1.5 times the size of the usual take out places. I average two burgers per sitting, so you get the idea: this "meal" was like lunch for me.
VERDICT: If you're looking for an alternative to playing in the snow... this ain't it.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Historians remember it as a place where Robert Service may, or may not have, scribbled out some poems in-between bank clerk duties. For your average Victorian though, it's just the place they got drunk at last weekend.
You may have to dodge a few ghosts, (including that of a failed Christmas store: OOOOOOoooooOOOOoooo!) but if you're looking to get plotzed—a trip to the Bard and Banker is well worth it. Co-owner Matt MacNeil has made it his life's work to open as many bars as possible (Penny Farthing, Irish Times, and the Barley Mill in Calgary to name a few) and they're all great places to drink.
Now that I've established the stunning fact that an Irishman managed to open a good bar; it's time to critique this burger.
The Bison Burger at the Bard and Banker is kind of like that scene in Girls Just Want to Have Fun when the punks crash the debutante ball: a fancy culinary outing that gets ruined by some dipshit interlopers. In the case of the burger, the head interloper is the bison patty. I'm assuming the patty was pre-frozen, as it is a tad rubbery, lacking in juices, and slightly lacking in flavour as well. The lack of juices can be partially explained away by the fact bison is a lean meat, but the lack of flavour is pretty uncharacteristic for bison.
The patty wouldn't be so disappointing if it weren't for the fact that there are some really primo toppings that adorn this burger. Off cowering in the corner of this unit is a layer of Stilton cheese, and some incredible bacon. While other restaurants are content to use proletariat pig bacon, The Bard uses wild boar bacon. If you've never had wild boar bacon, imagine skinning an angel and making bacon from its back. To put it bluntly: this is some fucking good bacon. As good as this bacon is though, it's really just a front for what is a pretty average burger.
The crispy-edged kaiser bun, the red onion, the plain white mayo: they're all pretty humble ingredients. Personally I think if you're going to go fancy, you better go whole hog (pun intended). I mean Jesus Christ, you're using wild fucking boar bacon—can't you make a fresh-tasting patty and throw some house-mayo on that sucker? Either make a unique, up-scale burger, or pump out some by-the-book pub fare: you're wasting your time when you straddle the line.
VERDICT: Take away the special cheese and bacon, and this is the same as any other average pub fare in Victoria.
Friday, December 5, 2008
(add $1 for bacon)
I am declaring Wednesday unofficial burger day in Victoria. Not just this Wednesday: every Wednesday. After discovering both Gorge Pointe, and Smith's Pub devote a coveted Wednesday dinner special spot to their burger; I think I'm justified. The burger at the Gorge Pointe Pub is definitely worth six bucks on a Wednesday, but for eleven....
This seven ounce, prime rib burger is satisfying—but nothing worth making a special trip past the horrible Douglas/Hillside intersection for.
The patty is a rather salty, char-broiled number with a faint whisper of juices. Tomato lovers (a group that doesn't include myself) will be happy with the hefty slice they'll find resting on top of an onion straw bed. Onion straw lovers aren't as lucky though, as these straws are dry and crunchy—crumbling and cracking like the brittle bones of an Oak Bay grandma who has just suffered a fall outside Pharmasave.
For only a dollar, the bacon is pretty decent, though its flavour is hidden a little by the onion straws. The onion bun is large and flat, offering a good bun:burger ratio with the wide-body patty. Although wider than your average bun, the relative flatness allows it to not overpower the rest of the burger. When it comes right down to it though, the Gorge Pointe Pub looks like a million other pubs, and the burger isn't wildly unique either.
VERDICT: Worth checking out for six bucks on a Wednesday, but too salty and onion-strawy for me to want to pay much more.
Friday, November 28, 2008
(add $2 for sub. Onion Rings)
(add $3 for Bacon)
Is a brave new burger era being ushered into Victoria? With the opening of Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger Joint, and utterings of a high-quality shack-style burger joint being in the works, could burger be the new box?
Pink Bicycle has garnered a lot of attention in the two short weeks it has been open; showing that Victoria is dying for a good burger joint. It's a bit of a reviewers sin to pass judgement on a new restaurant so early in the game, but I had to give this place a try. So far early reviews have been mixed, and the question still remains: will Pink Bicycle be a yuppie curiosity, or a mecca to all burger lovers?
I'm going to break down this review by ingredients:
In a stroke of genius, Pink Bicycle gets their buns from right next door at Bond Bonds Bakery. This ensures a fresh, tasty, sesame seed bun, and probably saves them a bit of money on delivery costs. The bun is cut in a way that makes the bottom a little hefty, which is sort of unnecessary when the burger is lacking in juices. This is a small point though, honestly this is a great bun, and a smart choice.
When I heard tell of a new gourmet burger joint in town, I had visions of patties ground and formed in house, but that isn't the case here. Patties are hand formed, but the beef is not ground in house. Pink Bicycle gets their beef from Neptune (apparently the only local supplier of AAA Certified Angus Beef). The quality of the beef is beyond question, but is lacking in juices, and perhaps over-seasoned.
Whereas other joints like Moderne Burger in Vancouver shun all seasoning, in order to show off their beef, Pink Bicycle has surprisingly gone the other way. The patty (crispy outside, soft inside) tastes rather meatloafy. By no means does the patty taste bad, but it could be tweaked to be more hamburgy, and less sandwichey. The seasoning is quite good, but does end up competing a little with the taste of the beef.
The bacon wasn't worth three dollars, but it wasn't necessarily worth leaving off either. The special mayo was excellent, but in the future I will ask for a little more. Not much else to mention; the cheese and lettuce were fine, but couldn't compete with the intense flavour of the patty.
The onion rings here are easily the best in town, and should never be skipped. The poutine was light on the gravy (possibly because they were running out), but has the potential to be great.
ps. Word on the Yorkshire Burger is that it will probably be a sporadic Friday special.
pps. I know you read this Pink Bicycle (because you noticed us in your restaurant) so please alert us when the Yorkshire Burger is on the menu!
During my eight or so months with the burger blog, no burger has been more anticipated for review than that of the Pink Bicycle (save maybe Aura), and apart from some minor, personal quibbles, the Pink Bike cheeseburger is pretty good. The bun is very interesting. It feels like your eating bun tops, and it's a little crusty, but nice and fluffy on the inside.
The beef itself was seasoned well, as every single bite unleashed a furry of garlic and rosemary into my mouth. The bacon was expensive(3 dollars extra) but it's taste balanced beautifully with the beef. I felt like it could have used some more of that red peppery mayo, because at times the burger as a whole tasted a little dry. Luckily the taste of the rosemary, garlic and bacon made up for this. I was a little confused at times during my meal because It was hard to notice the cheese, but that might have been a good thing.
VERDICT: Early on, it's hard to give a definitive verdict, but it's a noble start for Pink Bicycle. They aren't yet the best in town, but I'd put this burger above the Canoe Club Short Rib/Blue Cheese Burger.
It's nice to finally have an entire restaurant in Victoria devoted to burgers. Hopefully they continue to grow and improve.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Apparently they have been a LOT busier than initially expected, and have been closing early because they run out of supplies early in the day. Expect a review this weekend if they're open on Friday.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The new place is called the Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger Joint, and it's downtown at 1008 Blanshard. Can't wait to give it a try.
Check out this sample menu... the Yorkshire Burger looks promising.
A1. Beef Burger - Hand harmonized grain fed Alberta angus beef tenderly nustled into a rosemary rock salt bun. Clothed in BC butter lettuce, organic BC grown tomatoes and the rest of the pack.
A2. The Inside-out Veggie Burger - The patty is the bun! Organic red and green lentils mingling with organic carrots corn and dates. These miscreants are cozied around an beautiful array of seasonal local vegtables, and a delicious minted yogurt.
A3. Honest House Made Fries - Clandestine procedures done by our own house chemist/cooks to bring you the most exquisite french fry flavor.
A4. The Pork Burger - Organic pork chalked full of green onions and ginger. Nestled into a beautifully toasted bun, and topped with grilled pineapple, house teryaki, and mozarella.
A5. The Yorkshire Burger - ............gravy......yorkshire pudding.......ground sirloin.......Questions?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Fifth Street Bar and Grill is possibly the most overrated restaurant in Victoria. Over the years I've sampled some incredibly mediocre offerings here (pizza, steak, wings, etc.) and have never come to understand Fifth Street's cult status. The Buffalo Burger here is easily the most recommended burger in Victoria (for some unknown reason it has managed to achieve a surreal level of salacious super-stardom that is unmatched in our fair city). I've always viewed this burger as severely flawed, but on my most recent visit I was pleased to find it's not as underwhelming as it used to be.
The biggest change Fifth Street has made to the Buffalo Burger in the last year is the bun: the restaurant used to employ a very dry whole wheat kaiser, but have since changed to a smaller, chewier kaiser. The quality of the new bun is far superior to its predecessor, but unfortunately it throws the burger:bun ratio totally out of whack. The Buffalo Burger patty is approximately 1/3 of a pound, and incredibly loose. Due to the smallish bun, and loose patty, pieces of your burger tend to drop to your plate like flies from a bug zapper.
Despite the structural problems, this is a fairly tasty burger. I hate BBQ sauce on burgers like Achilles hates his heel, but Fifth Street has managed to make the condiment fairly unobtrusive. The portion of BBQ sauce used nowadays is much less than in Buffalo Burger days past, and it is hidden under a layer of melted cheddar. This layering effect allows the BBQ sauce to blend into the burger patty a little more naturally, but I still consider it an unnecessary element. Fifth Street flame-grills their burgers, and it seems more logical to me to spread some sauce on the patty while cooking—thus enhancing the flavour in a more subtle way.
Before finishing this review I need to quickly mention the service I received at Fifth Street: it was horrible. I could go on and on, but I'll keep my criticism focused on the burger, as this was the second time in recent history they've screwed up my order. As you will notice in the picture above (if you can make them out through the blur) I ended up with mushrooms, instead of the bacon I had ordered. I'd normally be willing to ignore this, but this isn't the only time Fifth Street has made an error in my order, and given the fact it takes half-a-fucking-hour to make this burger, you'd think they'd get it right.
Criticisms aside, I have to admit Fifth Street has made great strides toward providing a quality burger. The new bun is much better than the old, and through clever construction, they have allowed for a better flavour balance than in the past (not easy for a burger with both chipotle mayo, and barbecue sauce). I still think this burger doesn't deserve its constant accolades, but it is infinitely better than it used to be, and you'd be hard-pressed to find something better on the menu at Fifth Street.
After thirty minutes I received my piping hot, wood burning stove cooked buffalo burger, with mushrooms instead of bacon. Big let down, but the burger was still decent, which is the important thing. The patty fell apart too easily, but there was a nice injection of garlic inside, and the barbeque sauce was sweet and light.
Ten dollars is also a good price, but the shitty service was not worth the value of the food: Fifth Street is a wolf in sheeps clothing.
VERDICT: Recent changes are pleasantly surprising: structural problems, and fanatical devotion to barbecue sauce hold it back from true excellence though.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Dutch Bakery is probably the last remaining true diner in downtown Victoria. It's been run by the same family for over five decades, the tabletops are formica, and baked goods are proudly displayed in those little plastic pie-houses that have become so iconic (yah I don't know the technical term for those serving dishes, give me a break). This restaurant is the stuff immigrant dreams are made of; the kind of place people make a habit of going to. A burger in a place like this should be different, yet humble. It should stir your emotions ever-so-slightly, and every time you eat one it should make you forget all your miserable shortcomings. I realise that's a tall order, but you should expect nothing less from a semi-iconic family business.
The Dutch Bakery makes a pretty good burger, but it didn't quite fill me with the vim-and-vigor I figured it might. The (supposedly) 1/3 pound patty was juicy and flavourful—the "special blend of seasonings" making it taste a little like a sausage roll. The taste was a tad arresting at first, but after a few bites it got pretty familiar, and the chef balances it well with the other flavours at play. The burger is adorned with your standard condiments (mustard, mayo, ketchup) and a healthy dose of fresh produce. The bun is squishy, and the bacon is thick, crispy, and much tastier than your average cheap diner fare. Overall this burger meets expectations, but don't expect it stir up any post-war style feelings of confidence and serenity.
VERDICT: Good, but not great. Perhaps if the patty was beefier this would be a true gem.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Normally I would apologise for the horrible nature of these cell phone pictures, but given how hideous this burger is, they're completely appropriate. I'm going to keep this review short and sweet, because there really isn't much to say. This is quite possibly the worst burger I have ever had. The patties taste like I-5 road garbage, and no amount of "spice rub" or "sundried tomato mayo" can ever change that. None of the other ingredients matter when your patties are this Karloffian. In the race for worst burger in town, we have our first contender.
Shotty service from a slutty waitress. What more do you want? The Shark Club is Canuck fan territory, every booth equipped with it's own television broadcasting a hockey game on any given night. But among the middle aged alcoholic construction workers and the twenty-something Zellers brand Vancouver Canuck t-shirt wearing assholes lies something even more disturbing: the food.
Everything here was terrible, from the 1/2 price pizza with chicken wing sauce, to the double cheeseburger that I couldn't even finish because it tasted like shit. The terrible service was icing on the cake. Sweetheart, I'm sorry my name isn't Tommy and I don't work for Farmer Construction. Is it O.K if I have a glass of water? Whore. Shark Club, your pub sucks.
VERDICT: Guy has told me horrible things about Cosmo's Pizza, but personally I haven't encountered a worse burger in Victoria yet.
Monday Review of Fifth Street Buffalo Burger:
...my first choice, the massive buffalo burger, which comes with your choice of fries, Caesar or green salad. I added some perfectly sauteed mushrooms—for only a dollar more—to the fattest burger patty I have had in ages. With cheddar, barbecue sauce and chipotle mayo, this was one fine burger and, at 10 bucks, one of the best deals on the menu.
Massive? I don't remember this burger being any more than a 1/4 pound (1/3 at the most). Sure it may be larger than the usual 4oz, but calling this burger massive is incredibly misleading: it's like mistaking a gopher for a grizzly bear. You want to see a massive burger? This is a big burger. THIS is a massive burger. Really anything under a pound doesn't come close to massive.
Size aside, I have to say this burger is incredibly overrated. A large portion of its accolades can likely be attributed to the novelty of having your first bite of buffalo. Buffalo is good, but it can be done much better than 5th Street does it. Putting large dollops of barbecue sauce on a burger is pretty much the dumbest thing you can do to it. I have other problems with this burger, but I'll leave those comments for when I do a full review.
Aside from the burger part, I generally agree with what was said in Monday's review of 5th Street. The reviewer, James Russell, rightfully criticises a lot of their presentation, and seems to find most of the dishes underwhelming. Personally I feel 5th Street is one of the most overrated restaurants in town. Sure they have some cheap options, but a lot of the menu is pretty boring.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I've started to notice a disturbing trend at local Fish and Chip restaurants: deluxe doesn't mean shit. Maybe I just don't understand burger lingo as much as I think I do, but to me deluxe means a major upgrade. I'm talking at least some cheese (and ideally bacon as well). Unfortunately to the menu manipulators at Haultain Fish and Chips (and Brady's as well) a designation of deluxe means you get lettuce and tomato. Is deluxe just a word used to fool yuppies into thinking they're ordering a status symbol? Because there is certainly nothing "deluxe" about lettuce. A slice of lettuce couldn't be deluxe if it wore velvet robes, dipped itself in gold, and got knighted by the queen. That being said, on to the review....
VERDICT: Try the fish and chips, read an old National Geographic (another tell-tale sign you're in a chippery) but don't come here looking for a burger.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I have doubts about him being able to find an island beef farm that is willing and able to supply enough meat for a succesful burger-joint (given the fact that most beef farms in the area seem to be fairly small, and a number don't raise cattle year round)... but it sure would be awesome. There's a decent sized beef farm in Courtenay (and a Bison farm as well) if a person could get them to supply Victoria, it could be do-able.
I want him to be open today.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This is what particularly sparked my interest:
"I want to open a burger place–good burgers seem to be lacking in most places, Victoria is no exception. When a decent burger place opens and word gets around, line ups are the norm. While we agree that ingredients and quality should rule, style is a point of discussion. I’m kind of a burger shack type and C. is more the Moderne Burger type.
We drove out the Saanich Peninsula to check out a burger joint that we heard was for sale –strangely it was closed for the holiday, so we couldn’t sample it’s wares. Looking thru the windows we agreed the place itself is a bit too fussy and kitschy for our taste and the location wasn’t ideal.Still it was a nice drive and not a waste of time at all."
I have no idea what the joint in Saanich is, but pretty exciting to know that someone is considering opening a true burger-joint in the area.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Today I celebrated election day by creating a burger that I found here.
It's a double burger that uses grilled cheese sandwiches as bun layers.
You will need:
1. 3 grilled cheese sandwiches
2. 6 strips of bacon(at least)
3. 2 beef patties
4. Condiments of choice.
First you should cook the bacon fairly well then scrape them off to the side of your frying pan before chucking on a couple of your favorite beef patties. I went with a local company called Glenwood Meats because they were the only frozen patties at my local grocery store, and they ended up being fairly good tasting patties.
Let the frozen beef cook on medium to high heat for a few minutes before removing the bacon that you corralled off to the side of your frying pan. Flip your patties after they cook on one side, then put the uncooked grilled cheese sandwiches on the pan, preferably on-top of the bacon and burger grease; this way you don't need to butter the bread, but you still can if you want.
The grilled cheese sandwiches shouldn't take long to cook, so pull them off before the burgers fully cook. Lay one grilled cheese sandwich onto your plate, add any condiments you like, then lay the first patty down. Lay the second grilled cheese sandwich on top of the patty and then lay another patty down. Finally, lay the final grilled cheese sandwich on top of the second patty and viola.
Go ahead and make yourself a Bacon Hamburger Fatty Melt. They taste great.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Lunch Only (11:30AM-2PM)
I've been craving a date with this burger for over two months. Aura first peaked my curiosity when I discovered they had brought a Food Network muckity-muck, and a bunch of his buddies from Calgary into their fold. As if news a celebrity chef was making burgers in Victoria wasn't enough, the Aura menu also revealed the kitchen was using a house made bun to house its burger. Does anyone else in Victoria use a house made bun? I fucking doubt it. So after months of daydreaming about this burger, does it live up to expectations?
Fucking rights it does. The Point Burger makes the offering down the street at The Pacific look like a McDonald's focus group reject. The pre-formed, premium Alberta beef patty retains a surprisingly bold flavour, and is delightfully juicy as well. The texture and flavour of the mushrooms is magnificently subtle, and the house made bun is —thankfully — light (if a little too small for the patty).
The menu lists bacon as a topping, but I didn't notice it (probably because it was hiding in small chunks under the cheese). The only condiment on the burger was a house mayonnaise, which appeared to have been mixed with a smidgen of Dijon. There was just enough mayo to enhance the overall flavour of the burger, but not overpower the patty.
Despite a glut of toppings, you are never brought too far away from what is a truly wonderful patty. This is beef that tastes like beef, and its flavour is only enhanced by the patty's mayo and mushroom pals. I really wish this burger was offered on a dinner menu, because it pretty much blows away everything else in town. I still have a few lunch burgers to try (including a great sounding number at Blue Crab) but right now Aura sits at the top of the heap.
ps. As if the burger wasn't enough, this place has a fucking incredible hand dryer in the bathroom. When I stuck my hand in it I felt like Bill Paxton in Twister.
GUY ALAIMO CHIMES IN!!!
I think the last time I saw our waiter was four years ago outside 7-11, and we almost got into a drunk fight. Maybe good burgers create friends, because we talked like I had save his family from certain death. This is the best tasting burger I have ever ate in my life. The juices were dripping like crazy, the mayo was expertly mixed with the bacon and mushrooms; it was just fucking incredible.
This is what sixteen dollars should get you. According to places like Moxie's and Earl's, sixteen bucks gets you a dry and tasteless patty with a buttered bun. The Laurel Point Inn does it right. Every new bite was as savoury and delicious as the last: the good times never stopped rolling.
For the last month, every time I saw Donald at school he would mention the Aura burger, and how much we needed to go. I remember one week I couldn't muster up the cash to go, and it was like watching somebody find out they have cancer. Well, Donald is one for building up hype around a burger and having it come through. I think a second visit to Aura is long overdue, and it's only been four days.
VERDICT: I'm having a hard time thinking of a better burger in Victoria.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
(add $0.80 each for cheese and bacon)
If you're going to eat at Shag's, make sure you order to go — because if you don't you'll be stuck in a weird bus-station/family kitchen style atmosphere that isn't exactly enjoyable. Sitting behind me at Shag's was a lonely old woman who felt the need to comment on everything being said at the table across the room (regardless of whether or not anyone was paying attention to her). At the other table was a group that appeared to have some sort of blood-relation to Shag's. Their group was led by an annoying fat-faced child that wouldn't stop talking about hip-hop dancing and how she was probably "really bloody" when she was born.
But anyhooo... on to the burger...
The burger at Shag's is pretty yawn-tastic. Bland, likely pre-frozen patty, thin fast-food style bacon, and a pretty boring condiment mix. On the bottom of the bun you've got your red relish (which is a condiment that really needs to be coupled with others to be affective) and on the top is a whisper of mayo. The bun is a pretty decent D'Italiano style kaiser. It tasted fine, but it was ripping at the seams a little. I hate to think what would have happened to it if this burger was at all greasy. Shag's has obviously added this burger as more of a toss-off menu item than anything else. This is easily the least of the (albeit very few) burgers in the Quadra Village area.
VERDICT: Don't bother with this one — go to Pizza All Nite instead.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
My cousin was hyping the Oscar to me pretty hard about a month ago. Given Pescatores' status as tourist spot, as opposed to local haunt, I was slightly sceptical of the place. I generally trust endorsements given by family, and crab and Bearnaise is a pretty dope combo, but I wasn't going to get too excited about this burger. I've been cheated by lunch burgers before and I wasn't going to get red-riding-hooded again. I came in expecting an average burger, and I think that's about what I got.
The Oscar Burger is not for purists: the crab and Bearnaise sauce pwn the burger pretty hard as far as flavour goes. I like crab, but if I'm eating a burger I want to taste beef. The beef takes an unsettling backseat here, and although I appreciate the moist, flavourful crab Pescatores uses — it ultimately becomes way too dominant.
Pescatores receives the majority of its meat and veggies from North Douglas/Sysco which means you get a pre-made patty with this burger. Not only is the burger pre-made, but given the lack of juices, I have to assume Pescatores orders frozen patties instead of fresh. The decision to go frozen is partly, if not largely, to blame for this burger's lack of flavour balance.
Criticisms aside, there are some things this burger does right. The decision to use Bearnaise as the only condiment (and to tell the veges to fuck off) was definitely the right choice for this burger. It might seem like an obvious decision, but as Floyd's Diner has shown us — it's not uncommon for cooks to treat burgers like Christmas trees and start hanging as much crap as possible on them.
The only other thing to mention is the bun, which was a rather crusty sesame seed kaiser number. Despite the overt crustiness, I actually enjoyed this bun a fair bit. It complimented the rest of the burger nicely, and didn't taste half bad either. Unfortunately for Pescatores though, the overall nature of this burger is very laboratory-esque.
VERDICT: Keep experimenting Pescatores, you don't have it yet.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Floyd's is much too democratic with its condiment selection. There is no way you should be giving chipotle mayo AND barbeque sauce equal billing on a burger. In fact nine times out of ten, you shouldn't even keep barbeque sauce in the same room as your patties. All BBQ sauce ever manages to do is destroy any semblance of flavour hierarchy within your burger unit. Despite my distaste for BBQ sauce, I can understand that sometimes a restaurant will try to be different by using it instead of traditional condiments. I can understand the need to be different, but using special mayo AND barbeque sauce AND mustard on the same burger is total fucking lunacy. It's akin to wearing jeans and a skirt at the same time: it doesn't make you unique, it just makes you look stupid.
In spite of the condiment blunder, the First Kiss Burger manages to be fairly decent. The patty is slightly crispy on the outside, with a supple, juicy centre: it's a hearty bugger with a considerable meatloafy flavour. As for the other essentials — the bacon is good (but could be crispier), the cheese is fine, and the whole-wheat kaiser is surprisingly squishy. I actually can't remember the last time I had a whole-wheat bun that was this squishy.
Despite the vexing nature of its condiments, the First Kiss Burger ain't all that bad. It's definitely reminiscent of Fifth Street Bar and Grill's over-hyped buffalo burger, but something makes this burger more enjoyable. Maybe it's the fact that it's served by a waitress who isn't afraid to tell you she's late taking your order because she was in the kitchen hiding from unhappy customers: there's a certain air of authenticity this burger gains from being brought to the table by a self-deprecating diner waitress. It doesn't change the fact the burger is faux-diner fare, but it sure doesn't hurt.
GUY ALAIMO CHIMES IN!!!!
I remember a day, four or so years ago, when I went to Floyd’s and it took more than an hour and a half for my food to arrive. The service was not very good, probably because the servers were inexperienced and overwhelmed at the amount of costumers coming through the door, but I’m still not really sure why the food took so long to arrive. I’m also not really sure why Floyd’s is so revered in Victoria. I’ve had better breakfasts at ma ‘n’ pa restaurants in rural Ontario; with better service and MUCH better atmosphere. But, I guess that’s what you get for living in Victoria. Every time some young restaurant entrepreneur opens up their own business in Victoria, they tell all their friends to tell their friends, and then some sort of unexplainable allegiance is created. But that’s not to say Floyd’s has not earned their accolades, and it’s not to say Floyd’s owner is under the age of 35. But I do feel there is some sort of yuppie-love mentality attributed to the success of this establishment. I mean the food is not horrible. The menu is fairly original, and the fare tastes better than your ordinary Brannigans experience. But I wouldn’t be shelling out awards in the direction of Floyd’s. It may be one of the best places to eat breakfast in Victoria, but that is not saying much.
The First Kiss burger is good. If I were from, lets say Regina, and I was on a cross-country tour with my family, I wouldn’t be upset with it. Hell, it does the job. You got yourself a whole-wheat bun that is soft and chewy combined with a very interesting and flavorful homemade patty. The BBQ sauce kind of overpowers the taste of everything, but the patty is thick enough that you can still taste the beef. A little more cheese on it would have been better, but nobody’s perfect, especially after watching Hamburger America. I still prefer simpler and greasier burgers compared to the one Floyd’s are serving, but the burger does have an original flavor and the patty is not dry at all. If you’re patty isn’t dry, you’re already ahead of the game.
VERDICT: Floyd's makes a half-decent burger that would be fully decent if not for counter-intuitive condiment practices.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
$3.79 (add $1.59 each for Bacon and Cheese)
The cafe at Camosun's Lansdowne Campus has gone through some major aesthetic and managerial changes, but it still gives the same half-assed effort behind the grill. Aramark may have taken over from Chartwell's as Camosun Food Services Provider, but the kitchen staff at the cafe has barely changed, and food preparation practices still leave something to be desired (the cafe serves baguettes now, but they don't even cut them in fucking half when they serve them to you). Aramark has claimed "quality of food will be improved" at the cafe, and that the cafe is "buying locally". That might be true of the new baked goods, but the quality of the cafe's burger certainly hasn't improved under new management, and I have my doubts as to how local this beef is.
I can't argue that the lettuce and tomato on this burger were fresh, but the patty hit the grill frozen and with hair on it. Now I'm not some lysol-loving light-in-the-loafers germ freak; hair is everywhere, it's bound to fall on food eventually. What does bother me is the fact the grill-cook used his bare hands to remove the hair from the patty. Given the fact the the grill is wide out in the open, this just shows a total lack of interest in presentation and shoots Aramark's rhetoric straight to shit.
As I said this is a frozen, pre-fab patty, but it isn't a terrible one. The flavour certainly won't rock your socks off, but add a dollop of mustard and this will match your average little-league baseball fundraiser burger. What really turns this burger into an insult to your tastebuds is the bacon. Now you'll noticed the picture above doesn't show bacon, that's because I learnt my lesson the first time I ordered this burger. The bacon I was given the first time I ordered the Grade Eh! Burger can only be described as akin to a fossilised scab. It felt and tasted as if it was a remnant of some paleolithic era of burger making at Camosun. Completely unacceptable, especially considering Aramark is trying to push their commitment to "healthy options" and "food quality".
As far as burgers go, absolutely nothing has changed at the Campus Cafe since new management took over. The one burger element that benefits the most from being fresh is frozen, and the bacon is old enough to remember the Red River Rebellion. What we've got here is a Chartwell's in sheep's clothing. Camosun is stuck with Aramark for another eight years, whether they like it or not, hopefully they'll make some changes to the kitchen in that time.
VERDICT: A $1.59 for rest-home bacon and grill-cooks who couldn't care less? That'd be a big fat passola thanks.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Here's a short piece (direct link) that News 1130 did on the "Bun-Official Burger Poll". Great pun Burger Heaven!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Nothing quite like getting drunk at an afternoon festival: crappy folk music being kinetically interpreted by even crappier dancers, free key chains, friendly framboise drinkers — pretty much all the ingredients for fun. My first trip to the Great Canadian Beerfest was a great experience, brought down slightly by a heck of a lacklustre burger.
Maybe I just wasn't drunk enough, but man this burger was unsatisfying. The patty was dry and flavourless, the cheese sweaty, and the bun a tad obtrusive. BBQ Hut is obviously pandering to the lowest common denominator when it comes to hungry masses, but it would have been nice to see a little more effort put into this. I had a pretty good afternoon buzz going when I started pounding this burger back, and it was still painfully obvious I wasn't going to rest easy until my stomach lining was wrapped in a tastier, beefier, grease blanket.
My body's need for a grease-bomb was so completely violated by BBQ Hut that I had to go to Wendy's and eat not only a Baconator, but a JBC and fries too. Wendy's just barely satisfied my needs, but it did sober me up enough to fully appreciate the brush with fame me and Guy had on our way past SOFMA.
Backstreet Boys were in town Friday and Guy totally shook Nick Carter's hand as he was signing autographs outside the arena. Aside from an opportunistic photographer, we were definitely the only dudes there, and of course Guy was the most obnoxious in the crowd. I suppose we have BBQ Hut to thank for that.
VERDICT: Mute metro-sexual Nick Carter beats BBQ Hut by a mile.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Here are a few pictures from the event:
We made mini-burgers, and some more conventional four-ouncers. The burgers ended up being a little lean, but they were great with goop sauce. Taking a cue from one of the grill-cooks mentioned in Hamburger America (I can't remember which one) we cooked the cheese separate from the burgers. This is definitely the way to do it, as you end up wonderfully gooey cheese, as opposed to sweaty cheese.
Our buns were good, if a little small. We used a recipe from epicurious. If you end up trying the recipe, and you like squishy buns, I would recommend steaming your buns ever-so-slightly.
The mini-burgers were a lot of fun, and allowed for some experimentation. My dad's favourite was nutburger spread (salted peanuts and miracle whip) with bacon and blue cheese.
All in all the event was a huge success; even if we didn't entice the vegetarian in the crowd to slam a burg.