Friday, August 15, 2008

Swans Brewpub — 506 Pandora Avenue — 250-361-3310 —

Swans Burger
(add $1.50 each for Bacon and Cheese)

Swans is generally not a place you go to eat: it's a place to go and get shit-faced. Not a night goes by when the dance floor isn't filled with middle-aged men who look like zombie walk participants doing the twist. While the old folks pile in to hear whatever band-for-hire is playing, and have a few award winning brews, local hipsters crowd the corners and down cheap pitchers (12 bucks on Wednesdays!).

Swans has long been one of Canada's top brewpubs, but the kitchen has never received the same accolades. Even in local circles, it seems people are pretty indifferent to the pub fare at Swans. Locals will praise the Canoe Club, and slam Spinnaker's, but it's hard to find a strong opinion on the food at Swans.

So with no hearsay or hype to tamper with my taste buds, I ventured into Pandora Street's most popular pub...

The Swans Burger is not quite excellent, but it does have some excellent components. The lettuce and red onion are fresh, the bacon is crisp, and the patty is wonderful. Swan's could easily cop-out and offer up a pre-fab patty, but instead their kitchen has crafted a superb homemade number. The patty is approximately a quarter pound, well seasoned, and cooked just barely past medium-rare. This is easily one of the juicier, and tastier homemade patties I've had in Victoria.

There are only a couple of things that stop this tight little package from achieving true star status: Swans is pretty stingy with its chipotle mayo, and the bun is kind of cheap. Too much mayo would mask the star power of the patty, but I would have appreciated more than a dusting. As for the bun, it just doesn't quite stand up to the beauty of the beef. Imagine Mozart giving a concert at the Blanshard Courts; somehow it doesn't fit. In short — this bun is dating out of its league.

You need all your burger soldiers working together to achieve excellence, and Swans isn't quite there yet.

Excellent patty, but still a step away from being an excellent burger.

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