Saturday, June 28, 2008

Victoria News announces "Best of the City"

Best of the city? More like best of the shitty!

Every year the Victoria News releases an often vexing look at the best businesses and restaurants in Victoria. If you're the type that thinks Taco-Time is superior mexican cuisine... this is the publication for you!

The editor's note says that Best of the City delivers, "a good dose of community pride" and "allows us to take the pulse of Victoria".

Having not seen the questionaire sent to readers, I can't comment much on BOC's survey style, but the word "questionaire" leads me to believe this was an open forum, rather than a "pick your favourites from a list" type of affair.

Now is not the time to critique the process, however, now is the time to critique the results....

As always, Vic News has compiled a short list of the city's best burgers. The list, with comment from myself, is as follows:

#3 Red Robin

In terms of menu diversification, Red Robin is certainly the best chain restaurant when it comes to burgers — but it's certainly not a top three in the city. Their burgers are tasty enough, but lately they've slipped a little, and the food never makes you forget you're at a chain.

I've given Red Robin favourable reviews in the past, but it simply doesn't belong with the elite of the city.

#2 A&W

Wow, for real? How does a massive fast food empire like A&W end up on this list? We've got the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America, and this is what they come up with for the #2 burger joint in Victoria?

I'm as nostalgic about my trips to the old A&W drive-in as the next guy, but it's an absolute farce to give these guys a silver medal. Even putting A&W this high up on a list of fast-food burgers could be questionable. Does everyone voting in BOC live off the upper end of Douglas Street?

Everyone knows the Teen Burger is the only decent burger at A&W. At least half of their other options don't even come standard with cheese (or toppings).

How the hell does a place that puts mozza on their burgers end up #2? NO ONE LIKES MOZZA ON THEIR BURGERS!!!!!!

#1... Wait for it... White Spot!!????

Surely you jest Victoria News. Local pride can't even explain away this pick (White Spot was started in Vancouver by Nat Bailey).

Victoria's flagship White Spot (at the corner of Caledonia and Douglas) is by far the worst White Spot I've ever ate at. It's the only place in the world where an egg can find its way into a vanilla milkshake.

Is this just a brand recognition contest, or do Victorians seriously consider this the best in the city? Are Victorians honestly so in awe of Triple O sauce that they feel the need to choose White Spot over all other burger joints?

Well allow me free you from the Triple O reins! The sauce is really quite simple — mayo, honey, paprika. Now you can go ahead and make your burger at home (maybe one without a paper-thin, dry patty). The mystery's over.

Wrap Up

So there you have it; these are the places that Victorians deem the "best in the city".

How in the fuck does a list that is compiled of nothing but chain restaurants succeed in "taking the pulse of Victoria"? None of these chains even have local roots. Eating at White Spot, or A&W, might be nostalgic — but it sure as hell doesn't instill a sense of civic pride. This burger list is an absolute joke. Victoria doesn't have a huge burger culture, but we're certainly better than this list indicates.

Here's my current top 3 burgers in Victoria... it's a list that's forever changing...

Canoe Club

Loghouse Pub

Glo Europub

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bimo Burger Stand — Esquimalt — 878 Viewfield Road — 250-360-2955

Bacon Cheeseburger


Bimo Burger Stand, formerly known as JV's, is a bit of an Esquimalt institution (I'm sure many a special family moment has been shared over a Bimo burger).

So is Bimo strictly a family affair, or can a single guy enjoy their digs as well?

The Bimo burger benefits from a classic condiment and toppings mix. Shredded lettuce and mayo on top, mustard and chopped onion on the bottom. The toppings are fresh, the bacon is crisp, and the kaiser bun a fitting match.

Bimo offers up a burger that is on-par with some of your higher quality fast-food offerings, but also suffers from the same shortcomings. Ignoring the lessons learned by Fairfield Fish and Chips, and other formerly freezer happy burger-flippers, Bimo dishes up a pre-frozen patty. The patty is incredibly chewy, and diminishes the nostalgic noshing experience that is felt when visiting a burger stand. A switch to never-frozen could really round this place out, and enshrine it's place in Esquimalt folklore.

VERDICT: They do a good job masking the shortcomings of their patty, but fall short of being a classic burger stand.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


After a VERY long wait, Moderne Burger will be re-opening this Friday at apx 1:00PM.

If anyone in Vancouver can give me re-opening report, it would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Santiago's Cafe — 660 Oswego Street — 250-388-7376

Bacon Cheeseburger

After a slight deviation we are back to red meat here at the blog. Thank you for sticking with us as we experiment!

Now on to the review:

Last night I moseyed on over to Santiago's in James Bay to check out a possible top 5 Victoria burger pick. Santiago's is a small restaurant specializing in South American and Spanish fare (some incredible nachos at this place). Being in such close proximity to tourist traffic, the restaurant has also realized the importance of slipping a couple American menu items into the mix.

The Santiago's burger is certainly not a menu toss-off, but it won't be entering my top 5 either.

The first time I had a Santiago's burger I was touched. Perhaps I was blinded by the sunshine smile of the jalapeno relish, or maybe I was just wet behind the ears. Whatever the case may be, my second soiree just wasn't as sensual.

The home-made, slightly charred patty tastes almost as if it was done on a BBQ: a definite plus. The jalapeno relish is a great personal touch, and they don't skimp on the cheddar jack, but some problems do remain.

Aside from the relish, this burger has almost no condiments. There's a dollop of mayo on the top bun, and absolutely nothing on the bottom (unless you count the butter added before toasting).

The condiment situation does not undo this burger alone though — that job is left to the bun. Santiago's uses a whole-wheat bun that is a horrible match to this burger. The bun is almost like multi-grain toast, and tasted like it would be more at home in a sandwich setting. Santiago's makes a noble effort with this burger, but some obvious tweaks are needed to make it a triumph.

VERDICT: Would be a great burger if it wasn't for the bun and lack of condiments.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Joey's Only Seafood Restaurant, 130-1416 Island Hwy, Campbell River, B.C - - (250) 287-4482

Editor's Note:

Please enjoy what I hope will be the first of many Campbell River reports from regular contributor Guy Alaimo....

And let the argument over what counts as a burger to begin! (Hint: vege-burgers don't count, and chicken is borderline).

Joeys Only "Fish Sandwich"

On May 30th, I arrived in Campbell River to start my summer, and the first place I ended up dining at was Joey's Only Seafood Restaurant in the brand new Discovery Plaza on Pier Street. I ordered the three piece fish and chips meal, which may have been the best fish and chips I have ever eaten in my life, which is amazing considering the type of fish they use is Alaskan pollack. The use of pollack instead of cod or haddock is enough to explain why the price was so cheap, barely eclipsing the ten dollar mark, but the great taste was even more of a surprise. It must be the way they batter and fry the fish that makes it so great.

Anyways I had no idea that I would again be seeing a piece of that great tasting fish in my fish burger, and not on a plate along with an order of chips.

As you can see in the photo above, the "Fish Sandwich" is basically a piece of traditional fried fish on a long french roll with Joey's Only signature tartar sauce, sliced romaine lettuce and tomato. It came with a choice of side ranging from honey bourbon beans and garlic toast, to onion rings and french fries. I ordered onion rings, but they also gave me an order of garlic parsley potatoes by mistake.

The fish itself tasted the way it did before; excellent, and it was even better on a buttery french roll that was dripping with tartar. The crispiness of the batter just compliments the thin fish patty so well, and the tartar gives it a classic taste. I think the only downfall of this burger, or sorry, "fish sandwich", is the narrowness of the fish patty. I know it's just a piece of fish, but I thought this sandwich could have been even better if they used thicker pieces of fish; however, when all is said and done, you cant beat the value. You can get a nice fish sandwich along with a unique side dish thats piping hot for under eight bucks, and when you compare that with other food chains fish burgers, the value is undeniably here at Joey's Only.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Glo Euro-Pub and Grill — 104 - 2940 Jutland Road (Gorge Waterway) — (250) 385-5643 —

Prime Rib Burger

Here's the question you have to ask yourself about Glo: is this a chain restaurant or not? Glo is part of the Glo restaurant group; a group that includes itself and the two Med-Grills in town. All three restaurants have almost carbon copy menus... but Glo has a different name and a slightly different vibe that comes from being on the water.

If Glo is a chain, it's pulled off one hell of a coup. It's somehow created a chain-burger that stomps all over the stand-alone competition.

The Prime Rib Burger is simply incredible. The juicy 10oz patty, coupled with a killer red pepper aioli, stress the bun to just the right level: messy enough to let you know you're having a good time, but never getting to a level where you break through the bun.

Sauteed onions and mushrooms balancing on top of a healthy dose of bacon and cheese make for a topping medley that's as tantalizing as the nubile waitresses.

Glo's Prime Rib burger is the kind of burger that not even a small-stomached senior could bare to share. It's truly unbelievable that the Glo restaurant chain has managed to create such a superior product. This is the burger that Cactus Club's "the burger" wishes it was.

VERDICT: Quite possibly the best burger in Victoria, at a price that's rather reasonable.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Health Canada Bores You With Burger Safety

Health Canada issued a media release today advising Canadians of safe grilling practices.

The release can be viewed here.

Health Canada's also produced a short audio piece on the horrors of hamburger disease.

Total hilarity!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Quality Fast Foods — Microwave Double Cheeseburgers —

Microwave Double Cheeseburger
(available at fine Mac's Convenience Stores everywhere)

This was not my first foray into the world of microwavable burgers. On a warm James Bay night some years ago I remember my first plunge into true dirtball cuisine. I'd had my fair share of convenience store eats, but I felt a little like I was crossing a line when I mange-d my first micro-burg.

What was so dirtball about eating microwavable meat? Aren't the taquito and energy drink dinners I've enjoyed in many a 7/11 parking lot just as greasy?

The short answer is no: taquitos are served in their natural state, a micro-burg is not. But far be it from me to shy away from a second rendezvous with the burger Quality Fast Foods calls "The Winner!"

Years ago when I took my first bite of a microwavable burger, I was struck by the chewiness of the bun — it was like if Hubba Bubba started making hamburger buns. This time, however, my bun was only mildly chewy.

My first few bites of the burger were au naturel (no condiments, just the cheese that comes with the burger). The chemical cheese is mighty tasty, but the meat is incredibly bland (you don't even taste salt).

It's possible to eat a microwavable burger as is, but I highly recommend adding condiments; throw some mayo and mustard on this baby and it rivals some of the more pedestrian fast-food offerings out there.

Guy Alaimo chimes in!

So you’re drunk on a Tuesday night and you decide to go out and get something to eat. Usually you don’t have a problem finding meals when it’s this late and you’re this drunk, but on a Tuesday the options are limited. So you pass on trying McDonalds because the drive thru is the only thing open and you don’t want to get your third 24 hour suspension in as many months.

You think pizza, but then realize Athena’s is the only joint open in town. Not wanting to go very far, you remember that Mac’s is always open and hope to grab some Doritos, only thing is, when you get there you notice something that resembles a hamburger sitting on the top shelf of the cooler by the microwave. You take the hamburger looking thing out of its wrapper and pop it in the microwave.

What ends up coming out is a warm and comforting meal that is unique, unlike any other burger experience. The warmth of the bun, along with the warm meat and cheese, combine forces that can only be enhanced with a nice plop of mayo or whatever custom toppings you choose. The end result is an addicting burger that will have you going back for seconds.

VERDICT: Nothing's better than parking lot taquitos.... but don't rule out micro-cheesburgs as a second option.